gladys berejiklian speaking to the media
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media (Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

Confirmed cases in New South Wales include two in the border town of Albury. Victoria deals with the difficult flow-on effects of the Melbourne surge in cases. And a new study links COVID-19 to brain damage.

NSW not immune from Victoria’s outbreak

This morning NSW confirmed 13 new cases — 11 from returned travellers in hotel quarantine and two in the border town of Albury, one of whom recently travelled to Melbourne.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had earlier warned the likelihood of the contagion spreading north was “extremely high“. 

Since the Victoria-NSW border closed, NSW has issued 125,000 exemption permits.

After passengers from Melbourne disembarked from a Jetstar flight in Sydney on Tuesday without NSW Health screening, flights will no longer be allowed to land in NSW if health teams aren’t available.

Berejiklian has also slammed businesses flouting COVID-19 rules, saying that only 10% of businesses had registered with the government’s COVID safety plan. And although fewer than 10 had been fined for shoddy practices, she was aware of restaurants cramming in patrons and sharing salt and pepper shakers between tables.

Businesses can be fined up to $55,000 for breaching COVID-19 safety regulations. 

The flow-on effects

Victorian health projects put in place to deal with the pandemic are ill-equipped to deal with Melbourne’s surge in cases, with orders for ventilators, defibrillators and intensive care monitors cancelled or renegotiated

Two proposals to convert major buildings into intensive care facilities have been shelved, and a lack of contact tracers has been blamed for the outbreak’s acceleration. 

The Victorian government is pushing for international flights to continue being redirected from Melbourne. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) will examine whether there are adequate quarantine safeguards across all states and territories. 

Flights into Australia may also be cut back, with Western Australia and NSW announcing caps on weekly arrivals earlier this week.

The federal government is preparing to extend the $70 billion JobKeeper program amid fears Melbourne’s outbreaks could set back the country’s economic recovery.

Childcare providers are not so lucky — hundreds have been told by the tax office they are ineligible for the payments and may have to pay back what they received. 

And the Australian Council of Trade Unions is again pushing for paid pandemic leave for all workers to encourage workers to stick to self-isolation rules.

COVID effects more dangerous than thought

COVID-19 may cause brain damage, a new study suggests, with the virus leading in some people to severe neurological complications, including inflammation, psychosis and delirium. 

In London, 43 patients suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects. Researchers say long-term studies are needed to assess permanent consequences. 

Florida is at it again

A church in Florida has been accused of selling a “miracle mineral solution” marketed as a treatment to COVID-19. The concoction is industrial bleach, with nearly 190 litres of muriatic acid, and 83 litres of the finished solution found on-site. 

The church had previously had an injunction issued by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Florida is one of the worst-hit states in the US at the moment, with hospitals at full capacity.

Peter Fray

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