- SA COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations rise
- Police probe 23 election-related harassment cases
- Labor pledge $400m Flinders Medical Centre upgrade
- Leaders clash in heated TV debate as early voting begins
- Students set for NAPLAN as test moves online
- Cancer breakthrough for SA researchers
- Russia bombs school as leaders rally on V-Day
- Reds book home A-League final after 2-1 win over Western United
- BBC reveals new Doctor Who
SA COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations rise
South Australia has recorded 2984 new COVID-19 cases and an increase in hospitalisations.
Today’s case numbers are up from the 2788 cases reported yesterday and come despite PCR testing decreasing 14.4 per cent over the last 24 hours.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 has also risen from 214 to 228. There are 10 people in ICU and one on a ventilator.
SA Health reported no COVID-19 deaths today. Five were recorded on Sunday.
There are more than 21,000 active cases across the state.
SA Health says the latest genome sampling shows 94.4 per cent of virus samples are the BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.
Police probe 23 election-related harassment cases
A police task force set up to ensure politicians’ and candidates’ safety and freedom from harassment has received and assessed 47 complaints.
Operation Wilmot was launched at the start of the election campaign involving a team of Australian Federal Police officers and specialists.
An AFP spokesman told AAP on Wednesday of the 47 complaints received, there were 23 ongoing investigations.
So far, one charge has been laid, relating to a man who allegedly threatened to assault an officer in Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s security detail.
The AFP is also investigating a Liberal National Party candidate over suspicions he has not been living at his registered address.
Vivian Lobo is contesting the north Brisbane seat of Lilley.
The Australian Electoral Commission said there was a concern as to whether the information provided by Mr Lobo regarding his residential address on these forms is false.
Lobo said he will cooperate with the investigation.
Labor pledge $400m Flinders Medical Centre upgrade
Federal Labor says it will co-fund a $400 million upgrade of the Flinders Medical Centre if it wins this month’s federal election.
The upgrade of the Bedford Park hospital in Adelaide’s south will be split equally between the state and federal governments and provide a “major boost” to the 46-year-old facility’s bed capacity, Labor says.
It comes on top of a 24-bed FMC expansion promised by SA Labor during the state election campaign.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese and Premier Peter Malinauskas will announce further details about the expansion today.
“Over a decade in office, Scott Morrison has failed to invest in the future of Flinders Medical Centre or help South Australia fix its unprecedented ramping crisis,” Albanese said in a statement.
“I want to partner with Peter Malinauskas to give people in southern Adelaide the medical care they deserve.
“It’s a choice between more of the same, and a better future.”
Malinauskas said the investment would “dramatically” reduce pressure on the state’s overall hospital network.
The FMC emergency department was well above capacity overnight, with SA Health’s ambulance service dashboard showing 95 patients waiting for treatment in the ED, which has capacity for only 69 patients.
Leaders clash in heated TV debate as early voting begins
Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have clashed in a fiery live leaders’ debate, with cost-of-living pressures continuing to dominate as early voting centres open today.
Optimism for a better future was a theme of the opening statements by both leaders before they squared off in the second leaders’ debate televised by the Nine Network on Sunday night.
The prime minister also admitted he made a mistake by saying getting COVID-19 vaccines into the people’s arms was “not a race”.
“It was a race … and we shouldn’t have described it in those terms,” he said during the live debate.
Albanese said the government was “too little, too late” in its response to the pandemic.
“That is something that has defined this prime minister,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is the bushfires or the floods or the vaccine rollout, or the rapid antigen tests.”
Viewers were evenly split on which leader won the debate, Nine News said of more than 30,000 verdicts counted shortly after the debate.
Morrison and the opposition leader were grilled by a panel of journalists on cost-of-living pressures, interest rates, climate policies, affordable housing and the economy.
When asked whether he had seen corruption in the Liberal party, Morrison replied: “No I haven’t.”
Albanese said “there is a stench around Canberra at the moment” and repeated his promise to legislate a national anti-corruption watchdog this year if he wins the election.
When the questioning turned to the independent candidates, the panel asked the prime minister if he would resign to allow the coalition to form government. He said: “No”.
Albanese said he would not negotiate on any of the policies Labor took to the election in the event of a hung parliament.
“I am campaigning very hard to form government in my own right,” he said.
The two leaders ruled out extending the fuel excise cut, which has seen the levy slashed by half for six months.
Early voting booths open across the country today, with around 550 centres to be operational in the lead up to May 21.
Students set for NAPLAN as test moves online
More than one million students will this week take part in the latest round of annual NAPLAN testing and for the first time, all the assessments will be conducted online.
Students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9 will sit the national literacy and numeracy test across 9500 schools and campuses across Australia, and the move to online testing will benefit pupils, according to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.
Around 84,000 South Australian students are eligible to sit this year’s tests, according to figures provided by the State Government.
“NAPLAN online is a better, more precise assessment that is more engaging for students,” authority CEO David de Carvalho said.
“The tailored testing means students are given questions that are better suited to their abilities, so they can show what they know and can do.
“NAPLAN online also has a variety of accessibility adjustments, so that students with diverse capabilities, learning needs and functional abilities are able to participate.”
The test helps to determine whether young Australians are reaching important literacy and numeracy benchmarks using a national, objective scale.
It will move from May to March in 2023, giving education authorities access to results earlier in the year.
“This year’s test is particularly important so that we can add to a national data set and continue getting insight into the impact the (COVID-19) has had after two years of disruptions to schooling,” de Carvalho said.
Cancer breakthrough for SA researchers
South Australian scientists say they have made a significant advance in overcoming drug resistance among patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, a rare blood cancer that kills most sufferers within a few years.
Researchers from the University of South Australia and SA Pathology’s Centre for Cancer Biology have discovered a way to suppress a specific protein that promotes resistance to drugs commonly used to treat AML patients.
One of the lead authors, Stuart Pitson, said the finding could revolutionise the treatment of AML, a disease that recently claimed the lives of SA football great Russell Ebert and professional golfer Jarrod Lyle.
“Each year in Australia, around 900 people are diagnosed with AML, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow characterised by an overproduction of cancerous white blood cells called leukaemic blasts,” Pitson said.
“These cells crowd out normal white blood cells, which then can’t do their usual infection-fighting work, thereby increasing the risk of infections, low oxygen levels and bleeding.”
SA Pathology haematologist David Ross said many AML patients initially responded to Venetoclax, a new therapy recently listed on the PBS, but over time AML cells became resistant.
Using a large biobank of patient-donated AML biopsies and advanced pre-clinical models, the researchers demonstrated that by regulating lipid metabolism in the body, a protein called Mcl-1, the protein that facilitates drug resistance, was inhibited in AML cells.
“This process makes AML cells exquisitely sensitive to Venetoclax while leaving the normal white blood cells unaffected,” SA Pathology researcher Jason Powell said.
The team is now working to optimise drugs targeting this pathway to take into clinical trials for AML patients.
Ross said for most people with AML, the chances of long-term survival were no better now than they were last century.
“Now, we have a chance to remedy that,” he said.
“New treatments that prevent Venetoclax resistance have the potential to prolong survival, or even increase the chances of a cure in a disease for which improved outcomes are desperately needed.”
Russia bombs school as leaders rally on V-Day
As many as 60 people are feared to have been killed in the Russian bombing of a village school in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, the regional governor says.
Governor Serhiy Gaidai on Sunday said Russian forces dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the school in Bilohorivka where about 90 people were sheltering, causing a fire that engulfed the building.
“The fire was extinguished after nearly four hours, then the rubble was cleared, and, unfortunately, the bodies of two people were found,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
“Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, seven of whom were injured. Sixty people were likely to have died under the rubble of buildings.”
Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russian forces of targeting civilians in the war, which Moscow denies.
In the ruined southeastern port city of Mariupol, scores of civilians have been evacuated from a sprawling steel plant in a week-long operation brokered by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address late on Saturday that more than 300 civilians had been rescued from the Azovstal steelworks and authorities would now focus on trying to evacuate the wounded and medics. Other Ukrainian sources have cited different figures.
In an emotional address on Sunday for Victory Day, when Europe commemorates the formal surrender of Germany to the Allies in World War II, Zelenskyy said that evil had returned to Ukraine with the Russian invasion, but his country would prevail.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Victory Day messages to separatist leaders in Luhansk and Donetsk, saying Russia was fighting shoulder to shoulder with them and likening their joint efforts to the war against Nazi Germany. “Victory will be ours,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin press release on Sunday.
Reds book home A-League final after 2-1 win over Western United
Adelaide United coach Carl Veart has applauded his team’s grit after they came from a goal down to win 2-1 against Western United and secure a home final next Sunday.
The visitors struck first in the sixth minute of Sunday night’s match at Coopers Stadium through Dylan Wenzel Halls but Adelaide regrouped and hit back 10 minutes later via Javi Lopez before Ryan Kitto scored the winner on 51 minutes.
“They stuck at it and that’s five wins in a row,” said Veart after his team locked in fourth spot on the A-League Men ladder.
“Western are a good side and they really challenged us tonight so it made it very difficult for us.
“Full credit to the boys, they dug in because it’s important to get that home final.”
United are set to face Central Coast Mariners who sit in fifth spot, three points above sixth-ranked Wellington Phoenix who take on Melbourne City today, and with a far superior goal difference.
Like Adelaide, Central Coast has recorded five consecutive wins on its way to the finals and Veart is anticipating a thrilling encounter.
The Reds coach admitted he’ll likely face a selection headache next week with young gun Kusini Yengi starting and getting through 60 minutes in his first game back since mid-December.
Veart also welcomed back Zac Clough, who came off the bench and looked likely after a few weeks’ absence while Michael Jakobsen is fit and was also named in the match-day squad but didn’t feature.
“It’s going to be a great game next week – I suppose us, Central Coast and Melbourne Victory are the teams that have a little bit of form at the moment going into the finals,” he said.
“It’s important that you go into the finals with a full squad, a fit squad and we’re fortunate enough that we’ve got all of our players back and they’re all battling for that starting position in the eleven.”
BBC reveals new Doctor Who
Ncuti Gatwa will take the mantle from Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who, the BBC has announced, ending speculation over the iconic Time Lord’s next regeneration.
Gatwa, whose first name is pronounced SHOO-tee, currently stars in Netflix’s high school comedy-drama “Sex Education” as the effervescent Eric Effiong, who is openly gay but from a highly religious family.
The Rwanda-born, Scotland-raised Gatwa, 29, will be the first Black actor to helm the quintessential British sci-fi show, but he won’t be the first Black Doctor — Jo Martin has played “Fugitive Doctor” in several episodes.
“Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars,” returning showrunner Russell T Davies said in the broadcaster’s release.
“Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds.”
He takes over from Whittaker who became the 13th Doctor — and the first woman to play the central galaxy-hopping, extraterrestrial Time Lord who regenerates into new bodies — in 2017.
She took over from Scottish actor Peter Capaldi. Whittaker’s last episode of “Doctor Who” is expected to air later this year.
The original run of “Doctor Who” spanned 1963 to 1989. Since the show was revived in 2005, the Doctor has been played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, in addition to Capaldi and Whittaker.
Gatwa said in a statement that the role and show “means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care”.
“I will endeavour my utmost to do the same.”
– With AAP and Reuters
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