Australia

LIVE UPDATES: Nurse’s plea after virus tests refused

Sarah McPhee

Ski lift operations at Victoria's Falls Creek and Mount Hotham ski resorts have been suspended for the next six weeks.

The shutdown coincides with the lockdown in all of metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire until August 19.

Vail Resorts said the decision was made "after careful consideration" and is "consistent with the current stay at home directions".

“We did not make this decision lightly as we know our employees, guests and the communities where we operate have already endured so much hardship this year,” Vail Resorts Australia senior vice president Pete Brulisauer said in a statement on Thursday night.

“However, we are focused first and foremost on health and safety, following local health guidelines and doing our part to support efforts across Victoria to address the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

"We recognise this is incredibly disappointing to our guests and pass holders, including those who have made reservations at Hotham and Falls Creek this season. We thank them for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this incredibly challenging time.”

Falls Creek. Picture: Supplied

All reservations for lift tickets, ski and ride lessons, and rental bookings at the two resorts will be cancelled and fully refunded.

Customers are being asked to wait to be provided with information on processing refunds rather than contacting the centres at this time.

"Guests who purchased a 2020 Epic Australia Pass, who have not used the pass and who do not wish to proceed with their pass purchase, may obtain a refund by making a request here no later than Sunday 12 July," Vail Resorts said.

"After the 12 July refund deadline, the 2020 Epic Australia Pass is non-refundable except as provided for under Epic Coverage and under Australian Consumer Law."

Perisher ski resort in the NSW Snowy Mountains will stay open.

Last month, tens of thousands of people were forced to wait in online queues for hours to nab their annual pass to Thredbo's 2020 season.

Victoria Craw

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have been announced as joint leaders of a World Health Organisation (WHO) panel into the source and response of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response will conduct the much-publicised review into the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world.

The WHO agreed to conduct an inquiry in May after the move was initially proposed by Australia, tabled by the European Union and overwhelmingly backed by member states, including China at the World Health Assembly.

Read the full story here.

Sarah McPhee

Federal health minister Greg Hunt says it is not "realistic or responsible" to pretend COVID-19 can be wished away.

He was asked by ABC 7.30 host Virginia Trioli on Thursday night whether Australia should have taken an "elimination" approach to COVID-19 over suppression.

"To pretend we can wish the disease away is not a – in my view – realistic or responsible statement," Mr Hunt said.

"With a global pandemic, a disease which travels silently, a disease which cannot be seen and in many cases is asymptomatic, we have to be honest and upfront with the Australian people and prepare for the long term."

Federal health minister Greg Hunt. Picture: ABC 7.30

"Are you starting to think that he's right?" she asked.

"No," Mr Hunt replied.

"The particular person you quoted said in March that we would run out of ventilators in three weeks and that was a wildly incorrect and irresponsible and dangerous statement, so I'm a little surprised that of all the people, you choose that person."

Trioli interjected: "Stephen Duckett is one of the leading health bureaucrats in the country, he headed the Commonwealth department (of health and ageing), as you know well."

"So I guess if you reject that, you're prepared to take the risk of 18 months of possible rolling outbreaks and rolling outbreaks like this, that's the risk you take," she said.

Mr Hunt said "with great respect" the accuracy of recent predictions by a particular source should be checked against the outcome.

"But more significantly than that, we've been very realistic in a global pandemic, where there are over 12 million cases and growing, where over 550,000 lives (lost).

"We've achieved extraordinary things but we've been honest with the Australian people that there would be outbreaks.

"We saw other countries that have made predictions and then had to walk back because there have been cases after there had been claims of elimination."

Sarah McPhee

A nurse in one of Melbourne's quarantine hotels believes a fear of previously "invasive and painful" COVID-19 testing methods is "contributing to people refusing to be tested". 

In a message to Medical Journal Australia editor-in-chief professor Nick Talley, the nurse asked what could be done to “communicate the message that the swab tests are no longer invasive and painful as they were at the beginning”.

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“We just swab the back of the throat & then twirl swab in each nostril but only going in a few centimetres – it’s definitely no longer what used to feel like a brain scrape!” she said, according to a post made by Professor Talley on Twitter. 

"I’ve been swabbed with both techniques and this new technique mildly and briefly uncomfortable not painful.

"I find that people are so anxious about the test they are crying before we even knock on their door! It’s such an ordeal for them but afterwards they say ‘oh, actually that wasn’t too bad!’ I really feel fear this is contributing to people refusing to be tested."

Earlier this month, federal deputy chief health officer Paul Kelly confirmed one in 10 Melburnians in COVID-19 hot spot suburbs had refused to be tested for the coronavirus.

The day before, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews revealed 928 people had refused to be tested across Broadmeadows and Keilor Downs.

Friday marks the first day of a six-week lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire after a surge in cases. 

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