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What we know today, Sunday February 7

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Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

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Break-in at bubble tea shop linked to wage theft allegations

A bubble tea shop at the centre of wage theft claims in Adelaide’s Chinatown district was broken into overnight.

Just after midnight on Sunday, the security roller shutter of the Fun Tea shop on Gouger Street was forced open.

Officers were called to the business but did not find anyone there, and it was unclear if anything had been stolen.

Police have urged anyone with information about the break-in to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Protests were held in the area on Saturday after video surfaced of a woman being assaulted after allegedly confronting her manager about wage theft.

The 39-year-old Glen Osmond man was arrested on Tuesday, February 2 and charged with assault. He will appear in court in May.

Images taken before the break-in show abusive messages written on the facade of the bubble tea establishment.

SA to consider extra coronavirus test

South Australia will consider adding an extra COVID-19 test for Australians returning from overseas to bolster the security of the hotel quarantine system.

Under current arrangements, anyone forced into quarantine in SA is tested on days one, five and 12.

But NSW has now introduced a test on day 16, which while not mandatory is highly recommended.

It’s designed to pick up cases that might have developed at the tail end of the 14-day period.

From Monday, SA authorities will take charge of the new Tom’s Court hotel complex in the centre of Adelaide which will become a dedicated facility to house people with confirmed coronavirus infections.

The facility has had ventilation systems upgraded to make it as safe as possible and has upgraded CCTV coverage.

The 72-bed site includes four apartment-style rooms to accommodate families and two purpose-built disability suites.

Staff will move in from Monday with a view to taking guests from February 15.

SA reported no new virus cases on Sunday and currently has just two active cases, both returned travellers in quarantine.

No new SA cases as Victoria reviews quarantine

Victoria recorded no new local COVID-19 cases for the third straight day, as authorities admit they may never get to the bottom of exactly how a hotel quarantine worker picked up the virus.

A ventilation review of all Victorian quarantine hotels has been initiated and face shields made mandatory among workers.

Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the government would not “leave any stone unturned” in its quest for answers.

Other implemented changes include establishing “buffers” between family groups and other guests, and staggering food deliveries.

If advised by health authorities, Ms Neville also said she would install CCTV on all floors of every quarantine hotel.

Vouchers provide SA tourism boost

A second round of accommodation vouchers designed to help the tourism sector during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a $19 million boost to the South Australian economy.

Premier Steven Marshall says the vouchers generated 36,000 bookings, bringing cash to the state’s regions and the Adelaide CBD.

“Across round one and two of the vouchers, we’ve created more than 60,000 bookings, worth more than $31 million, getting people booking up the CBD and regions, and spending in our restaurants, cafes, bars and experiences around them,” Mr Marshall said on Sunday.

“We will now take away any lessons we have learnt from the second round of the Great State Vouchers, talk to the industry and gear up for round three.”

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said the voucher scheme had resulted in some regional venues breaking occupancy records.

He said there had been a particularly strong interest in vouchers for CBD accommodation in the second round.

Australian advisor to Suu Kyi ‘being detained’

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has confirmed Australians are being detained in Myanmar, amid reports Sean Turnell – an economics advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi – has been arrested.

“We have called in the Myanmar Ambassador and registered the Australian government’s deep concern about these events,” Ms Payne said in a statement on Saturday.

Ms Payne’s statement did not mention Sean Turnell specifically, though it follows news that Mr Turnell, an Australian citizen and personal advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi, has been detained days after democratically elected Ms Suu Kyi was overthrown in a coup.

“I guess you will soon hear of it, but I am being detained,” Mr Turnell said in a message to Reuters.

“Being charged with something, but not sure what. I am fine and strong, and not guilty of anything.”

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Myanmar’s cities to denounce this week’s coup.

In an upwelling of anger in the country’s largest city, Yangon, protesters on Saturday chanted, “Military dictator, fail, fail; Democracy, win, win” and held banners reading “Against military dictatorship”.

Many in the crowds wore red, the colour of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) which won November 8 elections in a landslide, a result the generals have refused to recognise, claiming fraud.

By evening, the protesters had mostly dispersed.

But for a fifth night, a cacophony rose in the darkness as people banged on pots, pans and drums in a show of resistance even as power cuts affected many districts of the city.

The protests built despite a blockade of the internet imposed after demonstrators first began to gather.

All day, the state-run broadcaster MRTV showed scenes praising the military.

Monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory reported a “national-scale internet blackout,” saying on Twitter that connectivity had fallen to 16 per cent of usual levels.

The junta announced a one-year state of emergency and has promised to hand over power after new elections, without giving a timeframe.

Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, 75, has been charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkies while ousted President Win Myint is accused of flouting COVID-19 restrictions.

Neither has been seen since the coup.

Wage theft protests at Adelaide’s Chinatown district

Roughly 100 protesters gathered at the Chinatown area of Adelaide to call for better protections for migrant workers, following an assault on a worker sparked by alleged wage theft.

In the second rally in the space of week on the issue, protesters braved rainy conditions in the wake of a video showing a woman at Chinatown business Fun Tea getting struck by a man after complaining about wage theft.

The man has since been arrested and charged with assault.

Speakers at the rally claimed they had received thousands of reports from migrants working for less than the minimum wage.

The SA Labour Information Hub and Fair Go South Australia organised the rally.

Labor spokeswoman Irene Pnevmatikos called for a legislative solution.

“It’s abundantly clear we need better laws, we need tougher regulations that will protect workers,” she said.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink claimed SafeWork SA and the Fair Work Commission were already equipped to deal with wage theft.

Intruder assaults woman at Aldinga Beach

A man has been arrested after he broke into an Aldinga Beach home overnight and assaulted a woman, according to South Australia Police.

Just before 9pm on Saturday 6 February, a man allegedly entered the home via an unlocked rear door.

When approached by the 35-year-old female homeowner, the man allegedly punched her in the head and bit her on the cheek and arm.  She fought the male intruder off and he left.

The victim’s three children were inside the home at the time and locked themselves in the bathroom.

The 21-year-old man from Aldinga Beach was found by police, arrested and charged with aggravated serious criminal trespass and aggravated assault to cause harm.

He has been refused police bail and will appear in the Christies Beach Magistrates Court on  Monday.

The injured woman was treated at the scene by paramedics and then conveyed to the Flinders Medical Centre for treatment to her facial injuries.

‘All-pervasive’ mice blighting rural Australia

Farmers and communities across large swathes of inland eastern Australia are being hit by the worst mouse plague in almost a decade, threatening to undermine post-drought recovery efforts.

Mouse populations have spiked over the past 12 months as crop-growing conditions have improved across rural Australia and provided the rodents with favourable conditions for eating and breeding.

Elevated mouse populations have been recorded from Central Queensland down to northern and central west NSW and into western Victoria.

In some areas, problems with mice have reached plague-level proportions.

CSIRO mouse researcher Steve Henry told AAP mice feast on the stubble of crops and reproduce roughly every three weeks once they reach six weeks old, making population control a near-impossible task.

“The mice have continued to breed through the spring, into the summer and now the real concern is that they’ll continue to breed into the autumn and cause a lot of trouble for the sowing of winter crops (in March/April),” Mr Henry said.

“You can force a farmer to do something about rabbits or foxes but because they’re all-pervasive when in high numbers, everywhere you turn there’s a mouse … it’s just impossible to get on top of them.”

Mr Henry recommended farmers allow their sheep to graze at crop stubbles to reduce the mice’s food source, spraying germinating plants and baiting at least six weeks before sowing crops.

Should that fail, farmers should drop bait straight off the back of their seeders as they sow.

The last big mouse outbreak in Australia occurred around 2011.

The central west NSW town of Coonamble has battled booming mouse numbers in both farm paddocks and homes.

“One supermarket said they were catching 200 a night, there have been people catching a couple hundred in their pool filters every night,” Coonamble Chamber of Commerce president Lee O’Connor told AAP.

“They’re in beds, people getting nibbled on at night … it’s everywhere.”

Zero local cases as stranded Aussies prepare for return

Australia has marked another day with no locally acquired cases of COVID-19 as more stranded Aussies prepare to return home when international arrival caps return to higher levels.

NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia all on Saturday announced zero local COVID-19 cases in their respective 24-hour reporting windows.

Western Australia, which on Saturday exited its five-day lockdown after a hotel quarantine worker picked up the virus, also recorded no local cases.

Some 57,000 people in WA have been tested for the virus since Sunday.

The Victorian government on Saturday also announced it had changed mask policies for hotel quarantine staff and would review hotel air flow, seeking to avoid a repeat of this week’s two suspected COVID-19 leaks.

Hotel quarantine staff in Victoria have since Thursday been required to wear a face shield and surgical mask while on the job.

Staff were previously wearing only an N-95 mask.

Hotel quarantine organisers from Wednesday also established “buffers” between family groups and other guests, resulting in 140 rooms being taken out of the system, and staggered food delivery times.

The moves follow a case of suspected COVID-19 transmission among two separate groups of guests at Melbourne’s Park Royal Hotel, and a worker at the Grand Hyatt testing positive to the coronavirus.

Victoria will increase its weekly hotel quarantine capacity to 1310 from February 15 as a month-long national “slowdown” on arrivals concludes.

NSW will from February 15 return to a cap of about 3000 people a week, while Queensland is reverting to 1000 and SA to 530.

WA will retain its halved cap of 500 until the end of the month.

Iran urges Biden to return to nuclear deal

Iran has urged Washington to act fast to return to the 2015 nuclear accord, pointing out legislation passed by parliament forces it to harden its nuclear stance if US sanctions are not eased by February 21.

Foreign MInister Mohammad Javad Zarif also on Saturday referred to elections in Iran in June. If a hardline president is elected, this could further jeopardise the deal.

“Time is running out for the Americans, both because of the parliament bill and the election atmosphere that will follow the Iranian New Year,” he told Hamshahri newspaper.

Iran’s new year begins on March 21.

President Joe Biden’s administration is exploring ways to restore the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers but was abandoned in 2018 by former president Donald Trump, who restored sanctions.

Iran retaliated by breaching the terms of the accord in a step-by-step response. Last month, it resumed enriching uranium to 20 per cent – a level achieved before the accord.

Biden has said if Tehran returned to strict compliance with the pact, Washington would follow suit and use that as a springboard to broader agreement that might restrict Iran’s missile development and regional activities.

Tehran has said Washington must ease sanctions before it resumes compliance and ruled out negotiations on wider security issues such as Iran’s missile program.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Iran on Friday in a virtual meeting with his British, French and German counterparts as the group weighed how to revive the deal.

Egypt releases reporter after four years

Egyptian authorities have released Mahmoud Hussein, an Egyptian journalist working for Qatar’s al-Jazeera television network who had been held in pre-trial detention for more than four years, his brother and lawyer say.

Hussein, who was detained in December 2016 after arriving in Cairo from Doha for a holiday, was being held on charges of spreading false news, joining a banned group and receiving foreign funds.

He was released several weeks after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January to restore diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar severed in 2017 over allegations that Qatar supported terrorism, a charge that officials in Doha deny.

A Cairo court ordered Hussein’s release with “precautionary measures” pending investigations on February 1, his brother Nageh Hussein and lawyer Taher Abou al-Nasr told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear what the release conditions were but Nageh Hussein said his brother may be required to spend several hours every Saturday and Tuesday in a police station.

Al-Jazeera Media Network welcomed the news, saying “…no journalist should ever be subjected to what Mahmoud has suffered for the past four years for merely carrying out his profession”.

Egypt freed three al-Jazeera journalists, including Australian Peter Greste, in 2015 after more than one year in detention pending trial.

Sydney Kings smash Adelaide 36ers

Casper Ware put on a second-half masterclass to revive the Sydney Kings’ NBL campaign and propel them to a comprehensive 94-75 victory over the Adelaide 36ers.

After losing to the Sixers a week ago, the Kings were never troubled on Saturday night, extending their lead at every change and exacting swift revenge in front of 7371 fans, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre’s biggest attendance this season.

After being held scoreless in the opening term, Ware wound back the clock to scorch the 36ers, smoking 14 of his game-high 27 points (which included six-of-10 three-pointers) in a blistering fourth quarter.

Fellow import Jarell Martin (23 points) did the early damage for the Kings who led 21-18 after a tight opening term.

It was all Sydney from that point on, the Kings flexing their muscle impressively, snapping their three-game losing skid and ending the Sixers’ three-match winning run.

“I don’t think we were quite ready as we should have been to start the game,” Adelaide coach Conner Henry said.

“They sat in deep on our bigs and took our post game away, then they blew up our pick-and-roll coverage.”

The Sydney Sixers celebrate after winning the Big Bash League Grand Final against the Perth Scorchers at the SCG in Sydney. Image: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Sixers win Big Bash League final

James Vince’s masterful 95 and magnificent catch have delivered defending champions Sydney Sixers a 27-run win over Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League final.

Vince’s unbeaten 98 helped the Sixers crush Perth in last week’s qualifying final at Manuka Oval, where AJ Tye’s wide ended the match and denied the right-hander a shot at a ton.

The Englishman, after his side asked to bat first in front of a sold-out SCG on Saturday night, picked up where he left off while marching the Sixers to a total of 6-188.

Momentum ebbed and flowed during a drama-laden chase that finished with the Scorchers at 9-161.

Vince delivered a pivotal turning point while patrolling the covers in the 15th over of Perth’s innings, moving sharply to his right and clutching the ball after it was belted at him by Mitch Marsh.

Jackson Bird starred with the ball, delivering eight dot balls and dismissing openers Cameron Bancroft (30) and Liam Livingstone (45) after Perth raced to 0-43 in four overs.

– with AAP and Reuters

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