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What we know today, Thursday October 7

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NSW is accelerating its lockdown reopening plan after reaching the 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone, as the state records another 587 local COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.

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City to Bay Fun Run cancelled for 2021

The City to Bay Fun Run has been cancelled for a second year running (Photo: Lumary City-Bay Fun Run/Facebook)

The City to Bay Fun Run has been cancelled for a second year running after a plan for the event was rejected by SA Health.

City to Bay Race Director Joe Stevens said organisers had “no option” but to advise the more than 7000 runners who signed up for this year’s November 7 event that it could not go ahead, following a ruling from SA Health’s COVID Management Committee.

“We have spent a lot of resources this year planning a modified event and responding to COVID Committee requests in the hope that we would tick all the boxes required for protecting community safety,” Stevens said.

“We are extremely disappointed that our modified event structure has been declined but we also have a responsibility to the whole community to accept what has been decided by the State Government and SA Health.”

Stevens said the reasons SA Health cited were the “high risk of transmission from increased exhaustion, uncontrolled outbreaks in neighbouring eastern states [and] significant impact on the state’s resources – testing capacity, contact tracing, hospital beds etc. in case of an outbreak”.

The event was also cancelled in 2020.

It comes only a week after organisers of the Tour Down Under announced that the state’s premier cycling event could not go ahead due to complications associated with international quarantine requirements.

Other events to fall victim to COVID restrictions this year include the Bay to Birdwood motor festival and “The Ultimate Event” concert, scheduled to be held at Adelaide Oval on October 23.

NSW premier announces revised lockdown roadmap

Caps on indoor and outdoor gatherings, weddings and funerals in NSW will be revised upwards from Monday as part of a revised roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions announced by Premier Dominic Perrottet.

It comes as NSW records 587 new local COVID-19 cases and eight deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday.

The deaths include a man in his 20s as well as one person in their 50s, two in their 60s, two in their 70s and two in their 80s.

It takes the toll for the outbreak to 403.

Perrottet met with the crisis cabinet late on Wednesday to tweak the roadmap as the state prepares to emerge from months of lockdown on Monday.

The state on Wednesday reached the 70 per cent double-dose vaccination milestone.

As part of the new plans, indoor gatherings will from Monday be capped at 10 people, not counting children aged under 12. Outdoor gatherings will now be lifted to 30 people.

For weddings and funerals, 100 people can attend.

NSW indoor swimming pools will also be able to open for swimming lessons, training and rehabilitation activities.

From the 80 per cent vaccination milestone, expected around October 25, restrictions will ease further.

This includes a cap of 3000 people for controlled and ticketed outdoor events and the reopening of nightclubs.

Mandatory mask use will also be ditched in office buildings in an attempt to encourage workers back to the Sydney CBD.

These freedoms will only be restored for the fully vaccinated until December 1, when freedoms are restored for the unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, all school students will return to on-site learning by October 25, a week sooner than the prior plan. Kindergarten, Year One and Year 12 students return on October 18.

Vic records 1638, two deaths

Victoria has reported 1638 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

The health department on Thursday confirmed the latest cases and deaths, taking the toll from the current outbreak to 70.

It is the eighth straight day the state has reported more than 1100 cases, with active infections rising past 15,000.

More than 77,000 Victorians were tested for the virus in the 24 hours to Thursday morning, while 36,672 vaccinations were administered at state-run sites.

The latest figures come as a Melbourne principal temporarily lost his registration after allowing students to attend his school in breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

More than 30 COVID-19 cases were linked to the outbreak last month at Fitzroy Community School, which spread to students, teachers and household contacts.

The independent primary school of 60 students had been inviting all parents to send their kids to class, a move it publicly defended.

ACT records 41 new cases

The ACT has recorded 41 new cases of COVID-19, with a second baby infected with the virus at a Canberra hospital.

There are now five cases associated with a cluster at the Centenary Hospital special care nursery, after the first baby was identified as having the virus on Tuesday night.

Health authorities have said the cluster includes two babies and a Canberra Hospital team members, along with two carers who had been visiting the ward.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said work was ongoing to identify the source of the outbreak.

“There are 28 team members who are unable to work as a result of this exposure,” Stephen-Smith said.

“I’d like to reassure Canberrans that this is being expertly handled.”

Of the 41 new cases, 14 of them were linked with known cases and 24 are under investigation.

There were five cases that were infectious in the community and seven who were quarantining for their entire infectious period.

Union raises alarm about retail workers checking vax history

The shop assistants’ union in South Australia says making retail workers conduct mandatory COVID-19 vaccine checks will lead to abuse towards staff.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association says if retail workers are made responsible for conducting checks they will cop abuse from unwilling customers.

“Putting retail workers in charge of checking vaccine passports is like waving a red rag in front of a bull,” union state secretary Josh Peak said.

“Most South Australians are willing to do the right thing, but we know there are the Covidiots out there that will seek to intentionally engage with or antagonise workers on this issue.”

Peak said he had written to Police Commissioner Grant Stevens this week to caution against any such direction in the retail sector without a plan.

He said any vaccine checks in the retail sector should be the responsibility of police or trained public health officials.

“Retail workers are not trained security guards. Many retail workers are young and vulnerable teenagers and shouldn’t be held responsible for checking vaccine passports,” Peak said.

“It’s important we do everything we can to lift vaccination rates, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of workers’ safety.”

SA to consider lifting South East restrictions

Tough restrictions imposed on South Australia’s South East could be lifted as soon as tomorrow, with SA Health finding no new coronavirus cases or exposure sites since a woman tested positive in Mount Gambier over the weekend.

Premier Steven Marshall told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that the state’s transition committee would meet tomorrow morning to consider lifting a series of “punishing” restrictions imposed on the local government areas of Mount Gambier, Grant and Wattle Range on Monday afternoon.

He said SA Health had identified no new cases or exposure sites since a Mount Gambier woman in her 40s tested positive for COVID-19 after she visited Casterton in Victoria under the border bubble arrangement.

“We’ve had some anxious days,” Marshall said.

“We’re very pleased with the people in Mount Gambier because they have turned up in very large numbers to be tested and the great news is that all of those tests have come back negative.

“We still don’t know the origin of this infection, which is always a little bit worrying, but hopefully we can get some more information on that today.”

The restrictions currently in place in the South East include one person per four-square-metre density rules, a home gathering cap of two visitors, a maximum of 10 people at weddings and funerals, and bans on private functions and sport.

In a statement yesterday, SA Health said it was in the “final stages” of investigating the source of the woman’s infection and information would only be shared “where reasonable required to prevent a public health risk”.

“There is no benefit from a public health perspective in the personal vilification of any individual,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, South Australia has moved to impose tighter restrictions on truck drivers and other freight workers coming into the state after a spate of COVID-19 cases linked to drivers.

Close to a dozen infections reported in SA in recent weeks have involved truckies who have passed through the state.

From today, any such essential workers entering SA from NSW, Victoria or the ACT must show proof of having at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The documentation will only need to be provided once with each person’s status to be updated on their cross-border permit.

Marshall said yesterday that the change was necessary following the number of recent cases linked to freight operators.

“We’ve had, I think, seven, eight, maybe nine truck drivers bring the delta variant into South Australia just in the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“So this is a major, major priority. We hope that all drivers comply with that direction.”

From next week, the new rules will also apply to other categories of essential travellers including emergency service workers, remote and specialist workers and diplomatic and consular staff.

Meantime, new directions that came into force yesterday afternoon, private functions held outside no longer have to be capped at 150 people, but a density requirement of one person per two-square-metres still applies.

The rule does not apply for the local government areas of Mount Gambier, Grant and Wattle Range.

Australian company recalls 200k COVID tests

Australian diagnostic test maker Ellume has recalled some batches of its COVID-19 home test, saying they may show false-positive results due to a recently identified manufacturing issue.

The company said of the 427,000 tests that were affected, it had recalled about 195,000 tests as they were unused.

“Ellume has investigated the issue, identified the root cause and implemented additional controls,” the company told Reuters on Wednesday.

Ellume, whose at-home antigen test received Emergency Use Authorisation by the US health regulator in December 2020, has so far shipped 3.5 million tests to the United States.

The US Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that it was working with the company to assess its additional manufacturing checks and take corrective steps.

The company said it had restarted manufacturing of its updated test kits and would soon resume their distribution.

Police investigate Rundle Street stabbing

Two men have been taken to hospital following a stabbing incident on Rundle Street yesterday afternoon.

SA Police was called to respond to an altercation between two men on the city street at about 5.45 yesterday afternoon.

The victim, a 30-year-old Seaton man, sustained a minor stab wound to the leg, while the alleged perpetrator, a 42-year-old Adelaide man, was left with minor injuries to his head and face.

He was arrested at the scene, before both men were taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The arrested man was charged with aggravated assault causing harm, carrying an offensive weapon and possessing a prohibited weapon.

He did not apply for bail and will appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.

Meanwhile, police were called to respond to a fatal crash at Mypolonga near Murray Bridge late last night, after a car driving along South Bokara Road crashed into a tree and burst into flames. 

The driver is believed to be a 78-year-old local man.

Major Crash Investigators attended the scene and are examining the cause of the crash.

France sends ambassador back to Australia

French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault at Sydney Airport. Photo: David Gray/AP

France will send its ambassador back to Australia after withdrawing the envoy in a row over a submarine supply deal, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says.

“I have now asked our ambassador to return to Canberra with two missions, to help redefine the terms of our relationship with Australia in the future … and to defend our interests in the concrete implementation of the Australian decision to end the program for future submarines,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French MPs on Wednesday.

“Starting afresh in our bilateral relations will not have any impact on our determination to remain engaged in the Pacific.”

Paris had pulled ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault out of Canberra in protest at a defence pact negotiated between the United States, Australia and Britain. Known as AUKUS, the pact is intended to counter Chinese military power.

Under the pact, Australia committed to buy US-designed submarines, and pulled out of an existing supply deal with a French manufacturer.

Paris was incensed, saying the deal had been done behind its back.

French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Paris on Tuesday to explore ways to overcome the rift over the deal.

In a French television interview after the meeting, Blinken accepted a US share of responsibility for the disagreement.

“We could and we should have communicated better,” Blinken said, speaking in French.

“We sometimes tend to take for granted a relationship as important and deep as the one that links France and the United States.”

Indigenous Australian health gap narrows

The health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is narrowing as fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are losing years of their lives to premature death or illness.

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that while Indigenous Australians continue to experience higher rates of “disease burden”, the gap is narrowing.

“Disease burden” measures an illness or injury’s impact in terms of the number of years of healthy life lost through living with the ailment.

Overall, Indigenous Australians experience 2.3 times more disease burden than non-Indigenous.

The report, which used statistics from 2018, found Indigenous Australians born after that year can expect to live around 80 per cent of their lives in full health.

The absolute gap in disease burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous dropped by 16 per cent between 2003 and 2018.

This was largely driven by a narrowing of the gap in “fatal burden”, which decreased by 28 per cent.

Almost half, or 49 per cent, of disease burden among Indigenous Australians could have been prevented by avoiding risk factors like smoking and an unhealthy diet.

Mental and substance use disorders accounted for 23 per cent of disease burden, followed by injuries at 12 per cent, cardiovascular disease at 10 per cent, cancer at 9.9 per cent and musculoskeletal conditions at eight per cent.

Indigenous men experienced a fatal burden rate 1.4 times higher than Indigenous women, and men were three times more likely to carry burden due to alcohol use, suicide or self-inflicted injuries.

Indigenous women experienced more burden from anxiety and depressive disorders.

Crows, Port get active in trade period

The Crows have picked up an extra first-round draft pick in a four-club mega-trade but appear no closer to a deal for sought-after Swan Jordan Dawson, while the Power yesterday snared a bargain forward from GWS as the AFL trade period continued.

Giants forward Jeremy Finlayson will join Port Adelaide on a three-year deal, citing family reasons for his trade.

The Power gave up a future third-round draft pick for the 25-year-old, who was recruited through the Giants’ academy and has played 66 senior games since his 2017 debut.

Finlayson was contracted to GWS until the end of 2023, but requested a move to South Australia for family reasons.

“Jeremy has impressed us during his time at the Giants as a dangerous tall forward due to his athleticism and ability to impact the scoreboard,” Power list manager Jason Cripps said.

“He was very influential as a forward for GWS in their (2019) grand final year and we believe he offers us great flexibility as a tall forward, second ruck option.”

Meanwhile, the Crows and Sydney continue to haggle over a trade for Dawson, who has asked to move to Adelaide after rejecting a new Swans contract offer.

Sydney had rejected a deal involving pick 17, which the Crows were looking to prise from the Western Bulldogs – but that option was yesterday removed from the table after Melbourne, Adelaide, St Kilda and the Dogs completed a complicated exchange of draft picks.

The deal could open up avenues for further player movement during the trade period, following a slow start this week.

It gave the Crows rights to Melbourne’s future first-round pick, which shapes as a potential key factor in their plans to settle the stand-off with Sydney.

The Bulldogs gave up their first-round selection (No.17 overall) to the Demons, who thrashed the Dogs in last month’s grand final.

In return, the Bulldogs received enough picks to improve their draft value index points tally as they seek to match an expected early bid for father-son prospect Sam Darcy at November’s national draft.

The Dogs will also likely gain more draft selections – and ultimately enough points to land Darcy – through deals to send fringe players Patrick Lipinski (Collingwood) and Lewis Young (Carlton) to rival clubs.
Also yesterday, legendary former Crows and Carlton small forward Eddie Betts joined Geelong’s coaching staff after recently calling time on his glittering 350-game AFL career.

The Cats also confirmed they are one of several clubs interested in recruiting dumped Adelaide goalsneak Tyson Stengle, with the presence of his former mentor Betts likely to give their pitch impetus.

-With AAP and Reuters

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