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What we know today, Thursday January 13

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Adelaide United’s A-League Women head coach Adrian Stenta and men’s team assistant coach Ross Aloisi have contracted COVID-19 but the club says its double-header at Hindmarsh Stadium will go ahead as scheduled on the weekend.

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Adelaide United struck by virus

Adelaide United’s A-League Women head coach Adrian Stenta and the assistant mentor of the club’s A-League Men team, Ross Aloisi, have both contracted COVID-19.

The pair, who are both fully vaccinated, will be absent from this Saturday’s double-header at Hindmarsh Stadium against the Melbourne Victory.

Adelaide said on Thursday no players from either the men’s or women’s teams had tested positive with both fixtures expected to go ahead as scheduled.

Aloisi had been standing in for head coach Carl Veart, who has now recovered from COVID-19 and will return to the dugout on Saturday.

Joe Mullen will take charge of the women’s team.

Infections over the last month have forced a raft of postponements across both competitions, with just three of six A-League Men games given the go-ahead to proceed this weekend.

Under the competition’s rules, five positive cases among players is the threshold for a postponement.

Perth Glory’s women’s team, who are currently based in NSW, recorded three cases on Wednesday while two members of the football staff also received positive results.

Perth expects Sunday’s fixture with the Newcastle Jets to go ahead as planned.

Woman dies after Kilburn stabbing

A woman has died from stab wounds and another woman is facing charges over an incident in Adelaide’s north.

Police and paramedics were called to a block of units in the northern suburb of Kilburn just after 1am this morning after reports a woman had been stabbed.

They found a 45-year-old with a wound to her leg. She was treated at the scene before being taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital where she later died.

A 26-year-old woman, known to the victim, was arrested and police say she is expected to be charged later today.

Victoria to further ease iso rules for workers

Victoria will ease isolation rules for more workers, including those in transport and education sectors, as COVID-19 continues to impact businesses and services.

The state recorded 37,169 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday with health authorities managing 221,726 total active cases.

Twenty-five deaths were reported, while there are 953 patients in hospital, including 111 in intensive care of whom 29 require ventilation.

New isolation rules came into effect today for supermarket retail workers and those who work in the manufacturing, distribution or packaging of food.

Ahead of national cabinet today, Premier Daniel Andrews announced Victoria will ease close contact isolation rules for workers in more industries from midnight on Tuesday.

“We can also add emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport and freight,” he told reporters in Melbourne this morning.

“Exempting them from isolation requirements is a commonsense way in which we can keep those services, those important parts of our society, as close to normal as possible.”

Construction workers on critical state government projects are also included in the exemption.

Workers must first notify their employer when they become a close contact and both parties must consent to the worker returning to the workplace.

They can then only return to work if “it is necessary for continuity of operations” and will not be allowed to go out and socialise outside work.

“You cannot go to the pub afterwards or go visit other people, it’s about being able to get back to work to perform a critical function,” Andrews said.

Exempt workers must wear a face mask at all times and undertake daily rapid antigen tests for five days, returning a negative test before attending work.

Andrews said employers will be expected to provide workers with RATs and test availability would be discussed at national cabinet.

Victoria is expected to receive about two and a half million RATs from the national stockpile and has ordered another 44 million.

SA testing rules change as first RAT ‘supersite’ opens

COVID-positive South Australians now face fines of up to $1000 for failing to report positive rapid antigen tests, as the State Government opens up its first free test collection site in Adelaide’s southwestern park lands.

Those who return positive rapid antigen tests (RATs) are no longer required to seek a confirmation PCR test, but they must notify SA Health or risk a $1000 fine, after the government yesterday backflipped on its previous position and mandated the reporting of positive RAT results to ensure accurate record-keeping.

State emergency coordinator and SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens signed off on the new mandatory reporting rule in a series of directions changes overnight.

The move towards mandatory RAT reporting comes just one day after Marshall said South Australians would not be compelled to tell SA Health if their home test came back positive.

But the Premier told reporters yesterday following pressure from the state opposition and a meeting of the state’s COVID-Ready committee that the government was now “keen to track every single one of those results”.

It comes as the State Government opened up its first free RAT “supersite” at Josie Agius/Wikaparntu Wirra Park (Park 22) on the north-western side of the Greenhill and Goodwood Roads intersection at 7am this morning.

A further 12 collection sites are planned to open across metropolitan and regional South Australia in the coming weeks.

Only asymptomatic people who identified as close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases since Wednesday this week are eligible to receive two free rapid antigen tests (RATs) from the southwestern park lands site, which is accessible via a left-hand turn from Greenhill Road.

It has the capacity to hand out tests to about 13,000 people and will close at 9pm.

ABC Radio Adelaide reported this morning that there were “hundreds” of cars queued at the site soon after it opened with wait-times of up to an hour, but the line was travelling smoothly.

Traffic is reportedly banked up along Goodwood Road due to the flood of demand.

Marshall said yesterday that close contacts could still get tested at PCR testing sites if they preferred the older and more reliable method, with the opening of RAT distribution points offering an alternative to reduce testing site queues.

He admitted there would likely be teething issues over the coming days as the changes come into force.

“We are asking people to be patient, especially in the early days,” he said.

“We expect there will be a large number of people that want to go and get these free rapid antigen tests if they are close contacts – that’s why we’re limiting it to people that we’ve identified today as close contacts and moving forward, rather than going backwards in time.

“If you’ve already had your PCR test (on day one of isolation), we’re asking you to continue with that.”

The state opposition has criticised the government for so far only opening one distribution site, saying it signifies a “lack of preparation”.

“While it would be better if more people could access free RATs, at least this is a start,” Shadow Treasurer Stephen Mullighan said.

To receive free RAT tests from the park lands site, eligible people need to visit the SA Health website and register themselves and any other close contacts living at their house.

They will then be sent a receipt to their mobile phone, which they need to show to the staff at the distribution site.

The opening of the distribution site comes after state emergency coordinator and SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens last night signed off on a new direction ordering people to only seek PCR testing if they have COVID-19 symptoms, have been directed to by SA Health, or are required to under emergency management directions.

People who require testing for interstate or overseas travel, or who have returned a positive RAT test are also allowed to receive a PCR test under the new rules.

South Australia yesterday reported seven more COVID-19 deaths and 3715 new cases – 737 of which were detected by RATs. 

New data released by the government this morning shows South Australia has slowed its infection rate quicker than Queensland and Tasmania.

The latest data, recorded on January 9, shows South Australia’s virus reproduction rate was 8.2 days, compared to Queensland and Tasmania’s four days.

National cabinet to discuss school return

Photo: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

A plan on how students can safely return to schools amid rising COVID-19 cases will be thrashed out by leaders when national cabinet meets today.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with state and territory counterparts to discuss a uniform approach for when schools start returning and to hear from Treasury officials on the economic reasons to keep schools open.

Term 1 in South Australia is scheduled to start on January 31, but that date is subject to change due to the flood of COVID-19 cases across the state and concerns about staffing if teachers are forced to isolate if they are infectious or identified as close contacts.

SA Premier Steven Marshall told reporters yesterday that his government was on track to finalise its position and inform the public about its plans for the reopening of classrooms by Friday.

He said officials were still waiting on further advice from the national cabinet meeting before finalising plans.

“We’re looking at various options,” he said.

“Obviously, our preferred option is to get students back to face-to-face learning as soon as possible.

“We know that they get much better outcomes, we know that having children staying away from school disproportionately affects the vulnerable in South Australia.

“Our first choice is to get as many people back to school as possible on day one, but… there’s still a little bit of extra work to do before we’re in a position to let parents know of what’s going to happen by the end of this week.”

InDaily reported yesterday that a survey of Australian Education Union members in South Australia showed the majority wanted the return of school to be pushed back by two weeks to give teachers time to prepare lessons and ensure sites were COVID-ready.

The Queensland Government announced last week that it would delay the start of the school year by two weeks to protect children, staff and families amid a wave of Omicron cases in that state.

But Marshall has previously said that SA would reach its COVID-19 caseload peak ahead of Queensland – likely in the third or fourth week of this month.

Morrison sends urgent request for RATs

The Federal Government has placed an urgent tender for more than $60 million worth of rapid antigen tests as shortages across the country continue.

Five separate tenders for the rapid tests were placed by the federal health department on Monday.

The tenders were sent out due to “extreme urgency or events unforeseen”, according to the tender listings.

It’s not clear if the tenders for new rapid tests would form part of the 200 million the prime minister said would arrive in the country in coming weeks, or if they were additional RATs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said procuring rapid tests was a state responsibility.

Labor senator Katy Gallagher said the move demonstrated a lack of preparedness for the amount of rapid tests needed.

“Despite knowing that rapid tests were a critical part of opening up, as far back as September, the Morrison government did nothing to secure supplies until there was a national COVID testing crisis,” Gallagher told AAP.

“How Scott Morrison could have left it until this week to order the rapid antigen tests needed beggars belief.”

Nationally, more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday.

Djokovic visa decision delayed once again

Novak Djokovic training in Melbourne. Photo: Kommersant Photo Agency

One week after Novak Djokovic landed in Australia, only to be detained by border officials, uncertainty still remains about whether the tennis star will still be allowed to stay in the country.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has again delayed a decision on whether to use discretionary powers to cancel the world No.1’s visa, as he considers evidence provided by Djokovic’s lawyers on the matter.

It comes after Australian Border Force officials cancelled Djokovic’s visa last week for entering the country while unvaccinated, only for the cancellation to be later quashed by a federal court.

“Mr Djokovic’s lawyers have recently provided lengthy further submissions and supporting documentation said to be relevant to the possible cancellation of Mr Djokovic’s visa,” a spokesman for Hawke said.

“Naturally, this will affect the timeframe for a decision.”

Officials are looking into potential discrepancies on Djokovic’s declaration form, which stated the tennis star did not travel out of the country in the two weeks before his flight to Australia.

Djokovic was filmed playing tennis in Serbia on Christmas Day and was later seen training in Spain on December 31, both in the two-week window.

However, Djokovic has denied he was trying to mislead the government on the form, stating an agent had made an “administrative mistake” while filling out the form.

In a statement posted to social media, the Serbian player also admitted to attending a media interview in Belgrade when he knew he had COVID.

After carrying out a PCR test on December 16, Djokovic attended the interview two days later.

“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down, but did ensure I socially distanced and wore a mask except when my photograph was being taken,” Djokovic wrote.

“While I went home after the interview to isolate for the required period, upon reflection, this was an error of judgement and I accept that I should have rescheduled this commitment.”

The controversy surrounding the decision over whether Djokovic could still be deported comes just four days before the start of the Australian Open.

Since he was freed from immigration detention on Monday, Djokovic has been training at Melbourne Park.

UK PM apologises for lockdown party

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised for attending a “bring your own booze” gathering at his official residence during the first coronavirus lockdown, as a senior figure in his party and opponents say he should resign.

Johnson admitted for the first time he had attended the party at Downing Street on May 20, 2020 when social gatherings were limited to a bare minimum and said he understood the anger that the revelations had caused.

“I know the rage they feel with me over the government I lead when they think that in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules,” an ashen-faced Johnson told parliament.

“I offer my heartfelt apologies,” he said.

Johnson said he regretted his action and had thought the gathering was a work event – drawing jeers and laughter from opposition MPs.

“I went into that garden just after six on the 20th of May 2020 to thank groups of staff before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working,” Johnson said.

“With hindsight, I should have sent everyone back inside.”

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said the public – who handed Johnson a landslide election victory in December 2019 after he promised to secure the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union – thought him a liar.

“The party’s over, prime minister,” Starmer told him.

“After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road. His defence that he didn’t realise he was at a party is so ridiculous that it is actually offensive to the British public.”

Anger has grown since ITV News reported Johnson and partner Carrie mingled with about 40 staff in the Downing Street garden after his Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds sent an invitation asking attendees to “bring your own booze”.

Johnson’s press secretary said the prime minister had not seen that email.

Numerous people have described how the rules kept them from the bedsides of dying loved ones last May in contrast to the events in Downing Street.

Some of Johnson’s own Conservative MPs had said his response on Wednesday to the growing furore would determine his future.

“He’s taken on a lot of water and is listing but not quite sunk yet,” one of them told Reuters.

Kokkinakis stuns Isner, Monfils retires in Adelaide

South Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis has won a thrilling three-sets victory over tennis giant John Isner at the Adelaide International, while No.1 seed Gael Monfils has retired hurt. 

Frenchman Monfils was locked at one-set apiece against world No.83 Thiago Monteiro when he pulled the pin after losing the opening game of the third set.

The 35-year-old looked bothered by a neck or shoulder complaint and now has just five days to recover before the start of the Australian Open.

Before Wednesday’s withdrawal, Monfils had been building nicely towards the season-opening major after winning the Adelaide International 1 last week.

Meanwhile, local favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis came from a set down against American John Isner on Wednesday to secure a 6-7 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) victory in two hours and 42 minutes.

The win sets up a quarter-final showdown against fellow Australian Aleksandar Vukic, who beat world No.84 American Steve Johnson 6-4 7-5 earlier in the day.

Kokkinakis, who beat 20-time major winner Roger Federer in 2018 but has battled a raft of injuries throughout his career, has enjoyed an ideal lead-in to next week’s Australian Open.

-With AAP and Reuters

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