- Second day of record virus deaths for NSW
- Two virus deaths in Vic, 34,808 new cases
- SA vaccine rollout opens to kids
- Premier tests negative to COVID-19
- Djokovic faces crucial court hearing
- Nine children among 19 dead in New York apartment fire
- Investigation into homophobic abuse directed at Josh Cavallo
- Cummins supports changes to frustrating rain delays
Second day of record virus deaths for NSW
NSW has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic with a young child among 18 new deaths as the number of people hospitalised and seriously ill with COVID-19 continues to climb.
A record of 16 deaths was reported on Sunday, but that number was surpassed 24 hours later when another 18 fatalities were recorded on Monday.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the child was aged under five, had “significant underlying health conditions” and died at their south-western Sydney home.
Six women and eleven men also died with the virus.
Chant urged people who are unvaccinated, pregnant or have underlying medical conditions not to delay getting a COVID diagnosis and asked everyone to monitor for breathlessness.
“We don’t expect young people to get breathless or dizzy and that’s a sign you really need to escalate your care,” she said.
The number of people hospitalised with the virus in NSW has increased by 103, to 2030.
Of those, 158 are in intensive care – eight more than the day before.
There were also 20,293 new infections reported from 84,333 conventional PCR lab tests. No data is available yet from rapid antigen tests.
There is no way to report rapid test results in NSW yet, with the system due to come online mid-week, at which point case numbers are expected to surge again.
Two virus deaths in Vic, 34,808 new cases
Victoria has recorded 34,808 new COVID-19 cases and two people have died from the virus. .
The new infections included 17,190 from rapid antigen tests and 17,618 from PCR tests, with the state now managing 161,065 active cases, according to the Health Department.
There are 818 patients in hospital, 66 more than the previous day, including 118 in ICU and 28 requiring ventilators.
About 17 per cent of Victorians aged over 18 have received their third dose of a vaccine, while 93 per cent of those aged over 12 are double-dose vaccinated.
SA vaccine rollout opens to kids
South Australia’s vaccination rollout for children aged five to 11 begins today although just over a third of the state’s kids are booked in for a jab, according to government figures.
As the nation’s vaccine rollout opens to 2.3 million children today, the State Government has announced it will be adding a further 2000 appointments at the Wayville vaccination clinic this week for those in the five to 11 age bracket.
The State Government also says it will supply an extra 10,000 paediatric vaccine doses to GPs and pharmacists across the state, amid frustration from parents about being unable to secure their child an appointment due to supply.
There are an estimated 148,253 children aged between five and 11 in South Australia, according to government figures, although only around 52,000 – roughly 35 per cent – are booked in for two vaccine appointments.
Premier Steven Marshall said vaccinating children was a “key focus for my government”.
“From this week, we are opening an extra 2000 appointments for children per week at Wayville and will be reaching out to GPs and pharmacists to offer an extra 10,000 doses for them to administer at their sites,” Marshall said.
“On Friday, our first delivery of the initial 30,000 childhood vaccine doses from the Commonwealth were received, which have begun to be distributed to more than 30 dedicated vaccination clinics across metropolitan and regional South Australia.
“It is great to see so many families have already booked their children in for a COVID-19 vaccine, with approximately 52,000 children’s vaccines appointments booked so far for first and second dose.”
The latest stage in the vaccine rollout comes amid ongoing uncertainty over the scheduled return of school on January 31.
The State Government is expected to make an announcement on Friday as to whether the state’s schools will return for on-site learning and under what guidelines.
Victoria and New South Wales have opted to go ahead with the reopening of school as scheduled, but the Queensland Government has delayed the start of term one by two weeks.
Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas over the weekend called for the State Government to open dedicated vaccination clinics in schools over the holidays.
“Our schools are sitting empty during the school holidays, so why not use some of them as vaccination clinics for children?” he said.
“Steven Marshall says there’s no shortage of vaccine supply, so why are parents being told they may have to wait up to a month to get their child’s first dose?”
As of Saturday, 88.9 per cent of children aged over 12 in South Australia are fully vaccinated.
Just over 68 per cent of children aged between 12 and 15 have had two jabs.
Premier tests negative to COVID-19
Premier Steven Marshall says he has tested negative to COVID-19 after his daughter contracted the virus.
Marshall has been isolating at home since finding out about his adult daughter’s positive result on Saturday. The Premier dined with her on Thursday.
“I had my PCR test, it’s come back negative,” Marshall said in a video address from home on Sunday.
“But I will continue to work from home from the seven days from my contact.”
Marshall’s isolation period comes after police commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens tested positive to COVID-19 last week along with opposition leader Peter Malinauskas.
South Australia recorded 4506 new cases and one death on Sunday, on top of 4274 new cases on Saturday and 3707 on Friday.
176 people in SA are currently in hospital with the virus, with 18 in intensive care and two on ventilators.
Djokovic faces crucial court hearing
Tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic’s court fight to remain in the country and defend his Australian Open title is set to go ahead today after a late bid by federal government lawyers to delay the case was knocked back.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly on Saturday rejected the application to adjourn the virtual hearing until Wednesday, directing that Djokovic’s submissions be presented at 10am on Monday.
Submissions on behalf of Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews will follow at 3pm, subject to any further adjournment application.
The 34-year-old Serb has been in immigration detention in Melbourne since Thursday morning after having his visa cancelled by the federal government.
Documents released by the Federal Court on Saturday show Djokovic contracted COVID-19 on December 16 and was free from symptoms before he arrived in Australia.
His lawyers will argue that he met the criteria for a temporary exemption under Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines and that he was denied procedural fairness during the decision to revoke his visa.
Documents cite the ATAGI advice, including: “COVID-19 vaccination in people who have had PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection can be deferred for a maximum of six months after the acute illness, as a temporary exemption due to acute major medical illness”.
Djokovic provided evidence that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on December 16.
After his arrival on Wednesday evening, court papers show Djokovic had a sleepless night as he was questioned by authorities at times including 4am, before the visa revocation at 7.42am.
A partial transcript of that interview included “you have stated you are not vaccinated against COVID-19”.
Djokovic has previously declined to confirm his vaccination status.
An outline of his case says Djokovic had received a letter from Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer on December 30 recording that he had been provided with a “medical exemption from COVID vaccination” on the ground that he had recently recovered from COVID.
In a letter leaked to media, Tennis Australia rejected that players were knowingly misled, insisting organisers had followed “instructions”.
The parties have agreed that oral submissions should not exceed two hours in court.
Nine children among 19 dead in New York apartment fire
Nineteen people, including nine children, have been killed in an apartment fire in New York City, in what the city’s fire commissioner called one of the worst blazes in recent memory.
A fire official who was not authorised to speak publicly confirmed the death toll Sunday to The Associated Press, while a city official who was not authorised to speak publicly confirmed the number of children dead.
Dozens of people were injured in the Bronx fire, and at least 32 people were hospitalised.
According to the FDNY, approximately 200 firefighters responded to the scene Sunday at the Twin Park apartments, a 19-story building on East 181st Street.
Photos posted online showed a rescue ladder extended up to an eighth-floor window.
Thirty-two people were transported to five hospitals, with the majority of the victims suffering from severe smoke inhalation, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Firefighters “found victims on every floor and were taking them out in cardiac and respiratory arrest,” he said. “That is unprecedented in our city. We expect there to be numerous fatalities.”
Nigro compared the severity of the fire to the Happy Land social club fire, which killed 87 people in 1990 when man set fire to the building after getting into an argument with his former girlfriend and being thrown out of the club.
According to Nigro, Sunday’s fire originated in a duplex apartment spanning the second and third floors. Firefighters found the door to the apartment open, he said, which apparently allowed the fire to accelerate and spread smoke upward quickly.
The fire is not believed to be suspicious in origin but the cause is under investigation.
Investigation into homophobic abuse directed at Josh Cavallo
A-League club Melbourne Victory has launched a joint investigation into the homophobic abuse directed at Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo over the weekend.
Cavallo, currently the only out gay player in a top-tier men’s football league worldwide, came on as a substitute in the 54th minute at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
He said he had “no words” to describe his disappointment at receiving abuse from the crowd and on Instagram, but also noted he appreciated hearing from other fans who’d made contact after “making a stand at the game” against it.
The abuse came just over two months after the 22-year-old made international headlines and received worldwide support when he came out via social media and Adelaide United’s online channels on October 27.
“I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night,” Cavallo said on Instagram on Sunday.
“There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was. As a society this shows we still face these problems in 2022.
“This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold this (sic) people accountable. Hate never will win.
“I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.”
Cavallo said in addition to abuse at the game, he’d also received “hateful and hurtful messages” on Instagram.
“To @instagram I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received,” he said.
“I knew truly being who I am that I was going to come across this.
“It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”
The abuse was roundly condemned on Sunday and Victory said they were working with Australian Professional Leagues, AAMI Park and Adelaide on an investigation.
“Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches,” the club said in a statement.
APL chief executive Danny Townsend said the league would “issue sanctions to any people found to be involved”.
Adelaide chief executive Nathan Kosmina said the Reds were “appalled” by the abuse.
“Adelaide United is proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club, and to see one of our players subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and upsetting,” he said.
“Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in calling out abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our club.
“We will continue to work with the Australian Professional Leagues and Melbourne Victory to identify perpetrators and prosecute them accordingly.”
Cummins supports changes to frustrating rain delays
Aussie captain Pat Cummins says he would support any changes to Test cricket’s archaic rules to get play between rain delays after the Aussies found themselves short on time on the last day of their Ashes draw at the SCG.
Around 60 overs were lost to rain across the match, during an on-again-off-again five days where all but one day had stoppages.
There were times over the wet opening few days where the sun was out for periods that often coincided with players being off the field for lunch or tea breaks.
Australia could dearly have done with that time back, after they fell just one wicket short of taking a 4-0 lead in the Ashes as England held on in Sydney.
“It’s always spoken about,” Cummins said.
“It’s kind of the traditions of Test cricket.
“Even on day one we gave a bit of an allowance for the anthems and opening ceremony, which was when there was sunlight there for a little while.
“I don’t know the answers, but I think if it’s not raining and we’ve been sitting down all morning, let’s try and play as much cricket as we can.
“It’s one of the traditions. I’d be happy if we found some more overs somewhere.”
Players and fans were also partly to blame, with slow overrates again an issue at the SCG not helped by constant stoppages close to the sightscreens.
Meanwhile, Cummins felt his team had taken a step forward in their final-day efforts, despite failing to close out a match for the third time in two summers.
Australia also failed to bowl out India at the SCG and Gabba on the last day last summer, costing them both the series and a spot in the World Test Championship final.
They had similar issues against England in the 2019 Ashes at Headingley, while they have also been forced to fight for final-day wins against the same team at Old Trafford and Adelaide in recent years.
“Two of them have been here at the SCG (where) a day five wicket doesn’t play like a day traditional broken-up day five wicket,” Cummins said.
“This year, compared to last year, I think we’ve made some improvements.”
-With AAP and Reuters
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