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COVID-19 in Australia

Melbourne doctors under review for promoting discredited Covid treatment

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The drug regulator says a group of doctors is being investigated for promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus, against all scientific evidence.

These are the questions raised by the existence of the Covid Medical Network – a company run by three Melbourne doctors that has been promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 in defiance of the public health authorities, the World Health Organization and most expert medical opinion.

 

 

The CMN also casts doubt on the reliability of tests for Covid – because they only tell you whether you are positive or negative for the presence of the virus, not whether you are infectious – as well as the need for and efficacy of the vaccines, and says wearing masks can be harmful to your health.

Australia’s medical goods regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has said that the doctors are “under review” for possible breaches of consumer laws and the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code that prohibit misleading advertising and advertising of prescription medicines. This is because the CMN promotes a cocktail of prescription drugs – including hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin – that are not approved for use to treat Covid-19 . The penalties can be severe.

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COVID-19 in Australia

Weekly COVID news at a glance

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1  Make it back on track

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has signalled that Australia will move to using mass COVID vaccination clinics to distribute the vaccine. This move is expected later in the year in a bid to get the vaccine rollout back on track.

Mr Morrison had previously opposed the idea of the mass hubs but changed his position on Wednesday, saying the country needs to go to mass vaccination options and that it will be done in partnership with states and territories.

The federal government is still attempting to complete vaccinations for the most vulnerable people by the mid-year. Mr Morrison also confirmed that the national cabinet would meet twice a week until issues with the rollout are solved and “the program is back on track”.

 

2  Aged care homes low vaccination rates

COVID-19 vaccination rates in aged care homes across the country have been moving at slower rates than planned. But, as the ABC reported, one private aged care provider in Melbourne has managed to vaccinate almost all its staff and residents after taking matters into its own hands.

TLC Aged Care might become the first aged care provider to complete their vaccinations. As they had the capability to do so, they asked the government for permission to administer their own vaccine doses. But most aged care providers don’t have the facilities or expertise to take on the same job.

So far across the country, around one quarter of aged care home residents have been vaccinated, but many places have not even begun immunisations.

 

3  Sports grants to multicultural young people

The Victorian State Government has announced new grants to support multicultural young people in developing leadership skills by coming together through sport.

Minister for Youth Ros Spence announced 450 thousand dollars for sporting organisations that deliver mentoring and skill building activities for African and Muslim young people.

This includes 150 thousand dollars each for the Bachar Houli Foundation, Western Bulldogs Community Foundation and The Huddle, all organisations which run programs supporting and encouraging Muslim and African youth.

Minister Spence stated that “sport is a fantastic way to engage young people with their communities, build confidence and grow leadership skills”.

 

4  Skilled migrants impacts to AUS

Economists say skilled migrants are the answer to Australia’s economic recovery, as national job vacancies across the country remain high. 

The ABC reported that SEEK’s new report showed jobs posted on their website in March were the highest in their history. But applications for those jobs were at the lowest level since 2012. Economist Angela Jackson says one reason for the low level of applications is that the roles advertised require the skills migrants normally provide.

Due to Australia’s closed international borders, the number of migrants able to fill such roles has been dwindling. Dr Jackson says as long as low migrant numbers impact tourism and tertiary education, the jobs market and Australia’s economy will also suffer.

 

 

 

 

5  Face masks do matter

New research shows that mandatory masks during Victoria’s second wave of COVID in 2020 helped to “save thousands”. The study was conducted by epidemiologists and experts from both Monash and James Cook universities.

The researchers developed modelling that looked at the measures taken during Victoria’s second wave and found that mandatory mask wearing was the single biggest factor in driving down case numbers. The modelling found face coverings to have reduced transmission and infection risk by between 31 and 46 per cent and that the measures prevented Victoria’s hospitals from being overrun.

 

 

 

 

6  Ramadan on 2021

Muslims across the world began marking Ramadan with socially distanced communal prayers on 13th April Tuesday. This was a contrast to the empty mosques of a year ago when Islam’s holiest month coincided with the start of the pandemic.

Although Ramadan is an occasion marked by fasting, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body said Muslims eligible for vaccinations were not only allowed but “required” to get them during Ramadan.

While Muslims abstain from all food and drink in daylight hours during Ramadan, the vaccine enters muscle rather than the bloodstream and is not nutrition, so it does not invalidate fasting, according to the head of fatwas for the Indonesian Ulema Council.

 

 

 

 

 

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COVID-19 in Australia

Thousands of cases will spike if international borders reopen

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Australians have been warned to prepare for rising coronavirus case numbers of up to 1000 a week when international borders open.

The news comes as authorities investigate the death of a 48-year-old woman in NSW who reportedly received a COVID vaccination before developing blood clots.

The warning added to delays in Australia’s vaccine rollout and made airlines’ preparation for an October restart for overseas travel look optimistic.

The federal government’s dumped timetable means Australia’s border is unlikely to reopen until 2022. Senior government minister Simon Birmingham said experts were still looking at how reopening could work in line with the vaccine rollout.

There is no clear plan to open borders let alone a group established to realise it. It’s vital everyone respect medical advice. Mr Morrison said states and territories would need to get on the same page about acceptable virus levels when travel restarts.

 

/  Prime Minister Scott Morrison

 

He continues to defend the vaccine rollout, rejecting comparisons with less developed nations at more advanced stages. While mass vaccination centres are likely to administer the Pfizer and Novavax jabs later in the year, the prime minister rejected using major hubs to give doses of AstraZeneca to over-50s.

Despite doctors raising concerns about vaccine supply, Mr Morrison is adamant those issues have been largely solved.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese continues to criticise the government for its slow vaccine rollout, saying Australians stranded overseas should be home by now.

More than 1.3 million people have been vaccinated since the program started in February, with the government missing its own targets.

Mr Morrison said states and territories would need to get on the same page about acceptable virus levels when travel restarts. It comes after he revealed his “first goal” in reopening international borders would be allowing vaccinated Australians to go overseas “for important purposes”, such as work, medical reasons or funerals.

 

 

/  Labor leader Anthony Albanese

 

 

“ The first goal I think is to enable Australians who are vaccinated to be able to move and travel, particularly for important purposes. And secondly, for Australian residents and citizens from overseas who have been properly vaccinated, they will be able to come back in that way ”

Mr Morrison told the Community Vaccine Forum at the Stirling Community Centre in Perth on Thursday.

 

 

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COVID-19 in Australia

Weekly covid news at a glance

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1   International flights resumed in VIC

Victoria has again started receiving international arrivals, with over 100 travellers entering hotel quarantine from 4.30am on 8th April Thursday. 

Some officials have expressed concern that the updated quarantine program is not risk-free enough to restart operations. But Victoria’s acting Police Minister Danny Pearson says his team has done a thorough check of each hotel room.

International arrivals into the state were stopped in mid-February after a new strain of COVID-19 leaked into the community from the hotel quarantine system. The government shut down the program as the state entered a five-day snap lockdown.

Six hotels are now accepting travellers, with the first arrivals heading to the Holiday Inn near Melbourne Airport and the Intercontinental on Collins Street in the CBD. All hotel quarantine workers have received first doses of the vaccine with almost half also receiving their second dose.

Victorian COVID-19 Quarantine Commissioner Emma Cassar says extra safety measures are in place, including regular health checks and the vaccinations for all staff.

 

2  Targets info to CALD communities

The ABC has found that as cultural and language barriers make it harder to find accurate information, some families have found themselves divided over the safety of vaccines.

Responses from an audience callout found that misinformation problems can be intensified for family members who don’t speak English or are using social media and international sources for their information. Many also said the subject of COVID-19 at family gatherings is not discussed to avoid disagreements which could be culturally challenging.

Last week, multicultural affairs ministers from across Australia held a forum to discuss how to involve Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities in the vaccine information process.

In a statement, the ministers said they had been working with multicultural community members and faith leaders to counter pandemic misinformation and distribute accurate, and targeted health information to CALD communities.

 

 

3  Vaccination hubs plan

 

 

Mass vaccination hubs at sites such as stadiums and parks could be used when Australia moves to later stages in the vaccination rollout-out plan. The idea has been floated by experts who say using mass centres will help ramp up vaccination numbers, and the federal government is considering it.

Australia’s vaccination delivery is currently slower than other countries where mass vaccination centres are allowing a faster process. Most people currently eligible for vaccinations in Australia are reporting long booking delays, while local doctors are reporting vaccine supply problems.

Victoria has one mass vaccination hub at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, but it is only available for frontline workers. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says huge centres are not currently part of the plan, but they could make up future vaccination stages.

 

 

4  2021 Victorian Refugee Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Victorian Refugee Awards which will take place during Refugee Week in mid-June.

Each year, the awards recognise the achievements of Victorians from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. People, businesses and organisations receive awards for achievements in areas such as study, work and volunteering.

 

 

 

 

Refugee Week runs from 20 to 26 June, with this year’s theme focusing on ‘Unity’ following post-pandemic isolations. The week raises awareness around issues impacting refugees, while celebrating their contribution to the Australian community. Nominations for the awards must be submitted online before April 25 through the Multicultural Commission’s ‘Victorian Refugee Awards’ webpage.

 

5  Travel bubble of NZ and AUS

 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a two-way travel bubble with Australia. Ms Ardern announced that the trans-Tasman travel will commence from midnight New Zealand time on April 19.

The trans-Tasman bubble will allow people to travel between New Zealand and Australia without having to quarantine at either end. The plan has been proposed since early in the pandemic but has been put on pause on multiple occasions due to COVID-19 outbreaks in both New Zealand and Australia.

Tourism Australia has already scheduled a $3million advertising campaign due to begin in New Zealand on 8th April Thursday.

 

 

6  The welcome boost

Victorian farmers have received a welcome boost to their seasonal workforce with more than 200 Pacific workers starting on farms across the state. The workers are part of an agreement with the Tasmanian and Victorian state governments.

 

 

 

Up to 1500 workers will quarantine in Tasmania and arrive in Victoria between now and June. In return for the workers quarantining in Tasmania, over three hundred Tasmanians will stay in Victorian hotel quarantine as they return from overseas.

Employers will pay for airfares and approximately two thousand dollars towards each worker’s quarantine and the Victorian government will spend 7.8 million dollars to cover the rest.

 

 

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