Australia

‘NO EVIDENCE THAT IT WORKS’: Premier’s harsh rule savaged by expert

Alexis Carey

It has been one of the most detested restrictions imposed on Victorians – and now, a health expert has cast fresh doubt on the Andrews' Government's curfew rule.

Associate professor Michelle Giles, who is a senior medical adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Supreme Court yesterday there was "no evidence" the curfew was effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

She also disputed the Premier's argument that the rule was brought in to help police enforce coronavirus restrictions.

According to The Australian, Prof Giles said there was "no evidence the curfew in isolation is effective" and openly contradicted Mr Andrews' claim it was designed to help police fulfil their duties.

The curfew is being challenged by cafe owner and Liberal party member Michelle Loielo, who wants it deemed unlawful after claiming it violated her human rights and affected her business.

Prof Giles said there was "no evidence" the curfew was effective in controlling the virus.

Alexis Carey

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been named as the most powerful individual in the country, according to AFR Magazine's 20th annual top 10 ranking.

Mr Morrison took out the number one position due to his handling of the coronavirus crisis and his call to involve business and medical experts in government decision-making.

"Having united the fractious Coalition through a shock 2019 election win, Morrison’s stewardship of the health and economic crisis has improved faith in government, won international praise and sidelined the Labor opposition ahead of an election expected as soon as next year," the magazine wrote, noting his biggest upcoming challenge was to keep his "extraordinary popularity as he attempts to suppress the virus, strengthen a shattered economy and win a fourth term".

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg took out second place thanks to roll out of the government's coronavirus stimulus measures, including JobKeeper.

Scott Morrison is Australia's most powerful person.

Natalie Wolfe

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated large parts of the economy, not least the aviation and automobile sectors, but also the retail, energy and leisure industries.

The pandemic has also left a multitude of small companies in difficulty and destroyed insecure jobs.

After Disney and Royal Dutch Shell announced new job losses, here is a recap of some major casualties:

CRASH LANDING

Among the carriers in crisis in the air transport sector are two Latin American airlines, including the region’s biggest LATAM, and Colombia’s Avianca, both of which have filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States.

Virgin Australia also collapsed and is being bought by a US company. Among the smaller airlines to have filed for bankruptcy are South Africa’s Comair and South African Airways, and Flybe of Britain.

Others are surviving but with layoffs: more than 41,000 job losses have been announced at American Airlines, up to 36,000 at United Airlines, 22,000 at Germany’s Lufthansa, at least 19,000 at Air Canada, 12,000 at British Airways, 40,000 at American Delta Air Lines, 6000 at Australia’s Qantas, 7500 at Air France, 5000 at Scandinavia’s SAS, and 4500 at Britain’s EasyJet.

Several others have also shed thousands of jobs, including Britain’s Virgin Atlantic (3150), Ireland’s Ryanair (3250) and Icelandair 2000.

American Airlines and United Airlines have warned that unless they get more aid they could eliminate another 19,000 and 13,000 jobs respectively from October 1.

Among the plane manufacturers, Boeing has announced 16,000 layoffs, Airbus 15,000 and Canada’s Bombardier 2500.

Many airports, including in Paris, Copenhagen, Gatwick and Frankfurt, have also announced job cuts.

In ground handling services, Swissport will slash more than 4,000 jobs in Britain.

In the engine sector, General Electric and Britain’s Rolls-Royce have also shed 12,600 and 9000 jobs respectively.

Some governments have stepped in to limit the damage: Germany has flown to the rescue of Lufthansa and Condor, France and the Netherlands have done the same for Air France-KLM. Italy and Portugal have decided to nationalise Alitalia and TAP.

The world’s tourism giant TUI will scrap 8000 jobs, and the parent company of Premier Inn 6000 jobs.

BUMPY RIDE

The automobile industry has also taken a massive hit from the pandemic. Renault is to axe 15,000 jobs, and car rental giant Hertz has filed for bankruptcy.

BMW will cut 6000 jobs, while Nissan plans to shut a factory in Barcelona that employs 3000.

Sweden’s Volvo Group, which makes heavy trucks, will slash 4100 jobs worldwide, and in Britain more than 6000 jobs will go at Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, Bentley and McLaren.

BATTERED BRANDS

The pandemic has been fatal for many brands meanwhile, as they had to close shops amid lockdowns.

Countless clothing stores across Australia have gone into administration.

In Britain, shopping centre owner Intu has gone into administration, as has clothing chain Laura Ashley, rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse and outlets for the department store chain Debenhams, which has also axed 2500 jobs.

Other casualties include Marks and Spencer, the retail chain selling clothes and food, which will cut around 7000 jobs.

In the catering sector Germany’s Vapiano chain and Britain’s The Restaurant Group have gone under, the latter closing 125 outlets and losing 3000 jobs.

OTHER HARD-HIT SECTORS

In the leisure sector, Disney has announced that it is getting rid of 28,000 jobs in the United States and the American casino giant MGM had shed 18,000 posts.

The energy sector is also suffering. Houston-based oil services giant Schlumberger is planning to get rid of 21,000 jobs, a quarter of its workforce.

British giant BP has announced plans to axe nearly 10,000 jobs, while Royal Dutch Shell will lose up to 9000 staff, or 10 percent of its workforce.

With AFP

Natalie Brown

The Northern Territory Government could facing a more than $3 million shortfall for running the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

As many as 3500 people underwent quarantine at the spot between July and September.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has previously said people who stay at the facility, a disused workers camp about 25km south of the Darwin CBD, are paying almost $800 less than the actual cost.

A concession rate of 50 per cent ($1250) has also been given to almost 500 low-income earners, with the figures leaving a shortfall of $3.4 million.

Picture: News Regional Media

Travellers who have completed their mandatory 14 day quarantine at the facility have described their experiences as "like a holiday".

"You can go out for walks for 20 minutes a day, just have to keep your mask on and keep 1.5 metres from all the people around you," Melbourne film student Lexi Spurr told the ABC.

"And when we had our meals and stuff, (we) were able to sit outside on our balconies and talk to our neighbours.

"It was better than my lockdown experience in Melbourne."

Another woman, who'd also experienced hotel quarantine in Sydney, said she "couldn't ask for anything better than this".

Natalie Brown

As community transmissions dwindle, Australians flying back from Pakistan, the US, Britain, India and cruise ship passengers make up the bulk of NSW's COVID-19 cases in hotel quarantine, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

For six days straight, the only new coronavirus infections in NSW have been returned travellers in hotel quarantine, with two of today's three new cases detected in Sydney hotels.

The third case was a man in the capital's southwest that authorities believe is an old infection.

Picture: David Gray/AFP

The majority of travellers (125 people or 16 per cent) have been cruise ship passengers and crew, while just under 14 per cent (109 people) are returned travellers from Pakistan.

The US accounted for 11 per cent (87 infections), while 8.8 per cent came from Britain (69 people) and 8.5 per cent (67 people) from India.

Overall, more than half of NSW's 4038 coronavirus cases have come from overseas, with the majority who are diagnosed in hotel quarantine Australian nationals, a NSW Health spokesperson told the SMH.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant has said multiple times that NSW's COVID-19 caseload shows the state's hotel quarantine program is effectively detecting and isolating infectious cases.

Natalie Brown

Victoria Police have been sent in to patrol a hotel quarantine site, following the sudden axing of private security guards.

Workers from cleaning agency, Spotless, were stood down in the middle of their shifts yesterday amid fears over infection control.

Officers and Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) staff have since replaced the workers – but there are concerns over the safety of police and whether suitable measures have been taken.

RELATED: Victoria's astonishing 'hotel hotel' admission

Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire

"Are we looking at a third wave, has anything been learnt from this entire thing?" one police source told the Herald Sun.

A DJCS spokeswoman said the Spotless staff had been brought in "during the reset of the health hotels" and "carried out additional non-clinical support duties, which have now been taken over by DJCS staff and Victoria Police".

"These duties included grocery, care package and identification checks and floor monitoring roles which involved reporting any incidents to Victoria Police to action as the security provider.

"Floor monitors wore full PPE and were trained in PPE use and infection control with oversight from DJCS and Alfred Health.

"Victoria Police have had a 24/6 hour presence at health hotels since Friday 17 July, including a presence at Novotel South Wharf since it became operational on Monday, 28 September, and now also undertake all floor monitoring responsibilities at the health hotel."

The "health hotels" are only used for COVID-19 patients, not international travellers, after Melbourne's own scheme was shut down in July and international planes were diverted to other states.

Natalie Brown

A West Australian healthcare worker is now in quarantine after she didn't wear PPE while meeting crew members of the coronavirus-infected Patricia Oldendorff ship.

The woman approached crew as they disembarked the ship, which has been linked to at least 22 infections, on Friday.

Premier Mark McGowan told reporters he was disappointed by the woman's "silly" behaviour.

While she's tested negative to COVID-19, she has been put in quarantine today as a precaution.

"It's not a good situation, we were very very unhappy when we learnt about this but we put her in quarantine," Mr McGowan said.

"I expect there will be further tests done as well, but she is negative as a result of a test done today."

Natalie Wolfe

Singapore will allow Australians – excluding Victorians – to holiday and visit the popular city-state from next week but, the announcement comes with a catch.

Singapore's transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced the exciting development on Facebook, describing the move as a way to "resuscitate Changi Airport".

Picture: Supplied

However, it's unclear how many Aussies will be able to jump at the development considering anyone who wants to leave the country right now needs to be granted a government exemption to travel.

Read the full story here.

Natalie Brown

The aged care royal commission has found the Federal Government's measures to prepare the sector for COVID-19 were "insufficient".

The royal commission's special report was released this afternoon, and said Australia's chief health and medical officers knew the threat coronavirus posed to our elderly population.

"It is now clear that the measures implemented by the Australian government on advice from the AHPPC were in some respects insufficient to ensure preparedness of the aged care sector," the report said.

Picture: Andrew Henshaw

"Confused and inconsistent messaging from providers, the Australian Government, and State and Territory Governments emerged as themes in the submissions we have received on COVID-19.

"All too often, providers, care recipients and their families, and health workers did not have an answer to the critical question: who is in charge?

"At a time of crisis, such as this pandemic, clear leadership, direction and lines of communication are essential."

Aged care expert Professor John Ibrahim told the ABC just before that government's response is "not sufficient", following Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck saying the government will accept all of the royal commission's recommendations.

"What is clear from the royal commission report is the federal government is clearly responsible for the aged care response, that is beyond doubt now," Prof Ibrahim, who testified before the commission, said.

"They still don't have a national plan. Recommendation 4 from the royal commission asks again for a national plan, this was not established until around the time of the royal commission hearings. I had called for these to be done in March.

"The fact that the government has accepted all of these recommendations is good and constructive but does not absolve them of their responsibility previously."

Phoebe Loomes

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been slammed on social media after he shared a happy snap with two tradies to promote the government's education policy.

The tradies have since revealed they've both lost their jobs due to Melbourne's lockdowns.

Picture: David Crosling/NCA NewsWire

Mr Andrews posted the "pre COVID" photo on his Facebook page on Tuesday, saying the Victorian government was committed to supporting students who'd struggled throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story here.

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