(Image: AAP/Darren England)

Children in solitary

A potential COVID-19 outbreak in the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre has forced 127 young offenders into solitary confinement

The children, some as young as 13, have been isolated in their cells since Wednesday after a prison worker in her 70s tested positive to COVID-19.

Plans are also being made to send the kids to a facility in Townsville. 

It’s likely the 110 boys and 17 girls will be in confinement for 14 days. The 525 staff at the centre are undergoing COVID-19 testing, with contract tracing underway for those who visited the prison. 

Hotel quarantine inquiry

Two NSW hotel quarantine security companies are being investigated for illegally subcontracting security guards for the program. One company has been fined $2200, and the guards have been fired.

Authorities found the the breach during an audit, and police are investigating.

This morning NSW recorded one new COVID-19 case in the past 24 hours. 

The inquiry into Victoria’s hotel quarantine program continues, with nurses saying they had limited personal protective equipment. Guests were also allowed to leave quarantine just days after testing positive for COVID-19 (provided they didn’t have symptoms). 

This morning Victoria recorded 179 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths. It’s the first time the state has recorded less than 200 new daily cases in more than a month, since July 13. 

University staff asked to dig their own graves

University of Sydney staff have been asked to think of ways full-time staff can be cut by 30% following a $470 million shortfall from COVID-19. Academics from the school of education and social work were emailed by the head of the school requesting staff consider taking a day’s leave without pay every week. 

The university denied it was planning job cuts to The Sydney Morning Herald, saying it was modelling worst-case scenarios. 

It comes as international students, struggling with online classes and high living costs, cut their losses and return home. Graduation ceremonies at the University of Melbourne, RMIT and Australian Catholic University have also been cancelled due to the pandemic. 

Consultancy firm KPMG forecasted Australia would lose $117 billion annually due to the population decline. There’s expected to be a million fewer people than previously predicted in Australia by the end of the decade. The firm said international students may be a solution to rebuilding migration and growth. 

Preemptive immunity

New evidence is emerging around the globe that a huge chunk of the population has cells which can recognise and react to COVID-19, despite never having been exposed to the virus previously. 

Between 30 and 50% of the global population who haven’t been exposed to the virus may have cross-reactive T cells which might help fight off the virus. The cells could also, however, hinder the body’s immune reaction, making the disease worse. 

The science could explain why some people get much sicker than others when infected.

Peter Fray

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