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Covid: Pizza worker’s ‘lie’ forced South Australia lockdown

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South Australia decided to enter a state-wide lockdown based on a lie told by a man with Covid-19 about his link to a pizza shop, police say.

The strict lockdown began on Wednesday after the state detected 36 infections, including its first locally acquired cases since April.

But this would have been avoided if the man had told the truth, that he worked shifts at the shop, officials said.

He said he only went there to buy a pizza.

This misinformation prompted health officials to assume the man had caught the virus during a very brief exposure and that the strain must be a highly contagious one.

“To say I am fuming is an understatement,” state Premier Steven Marshall told reporters on Friday.

Australia has relied on lockdowns, widespread testing and aggressive contact tracing to push daily infections close to zero.

“We are absolutely livid with the actions of this individual and we will be looking very carefully at what consequences there [are] going to be,” Mr Marshall added.

South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens initially said the man was unlikely to face charges because there was “no penalty associated with telling lies”.

But he later announced a special task force would be set up to look at the circumstances surrounding the incident and investigate whether any laws were broken.
State officials said they would lift the lockdown on Saturday – three days earlier than planned – after recording only three new cases on Friday.

Police did not identify the man, but said he worked at the Woodville Pizza Bar in Adelaide.

Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that he worked with a security guard who contracted the virus at a quarantine hotel at the centre of the outbreak, which prompted South Australia to go on high alert on Monday.

When asked by reporters if the shop may need extra security because of public anger, Mr Stevens said: “There are all sorts of things we are considering at this point.”

The state’s outbreak follows neighbouring Victoria’s success in crushing a second wave of coronavirus which caused about 800 deaths.

Victoria has recorded 21 consecutive days of no cases or deaths after its capital, Melbourne, emerged from a strict four-month lockdown.

Australia has recorded about 900 deaths and 28,000 infections in total.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55011790

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Australian softball squad leaves for Tokyo Olympics, among first athletes to travel to Japan for Games

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The Aussie Spirit, the Australian women’s softball team, will be among the first athletes to arrive in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics after leaving Sydney on Monday.

The squad of 23 will arrive in Ota City for a training camp before facing Japan on July 21, a game that marks the start of official Olympic competition two days before the opening ceremony.
Having not faced an international opponent since February last year, the Aussie Spirit, which has won a medal in each of its past Olympic appearances, will also play against professional softball clubs in Japan, as well as two games against the Japanese national team, before the Olympics get underway.
“We’ve done so much training over the last year, we’ve had intra-squad camps against one another, now we finally get to play some really tough competition against Japanese clubs,” said squad member Jade Wall.
Earlier this month, Australia started to vaccinate its Olympic and Paralympic athletes with the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 shot.
Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said at the time that getting a vaccine was not compulsory but “highly, highly recommended.”
Softball is returning to the Olympics having been removed from the program after the 2008 Games.
It’s one of a number of sports added to the Olympics ahead of Tokyo, alongside sport climbing, surfing, skateboarding and karate.
“All staff and players heading to Japan today are fully vaccinated thanks to the Australian Olympic Committee,” said Softball Australia CEO David Pryles.
“They’ll also be undergoing stringent testing and checks as soon as they land at the airport and throughout their camp and Olympic fixtures.
“Movements in Japan are restricted to the one level of the team hotel in Ota where they will complete gym work, meetings, meals and, of course, relaxing amongst themselves.”
In the past few weeks, there has been mounting pressure in Japan for the Games to be canceled amid the pandemic, although International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound recently told CNN that a cancellation is “essentially off the table.”

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Australia resists calls for tougher climate targets

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Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has resisted pressure to set more ambitious carbon emission targets while other major nations vowed deeper reductions to tackle climate change.

Addressing a global climate summit, Mr Morrison said Australia was on a path to net zero emissions.

But he stopped short of setting a timeline, saying the country would get there “as soon as possible”.

It came as the US, Canada and Japan set new commitments for steeper cuts.

US President Joe Biden, who chaired the virtual summit, pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. This new target essentially doubles the previous US promise.

By contrast, Australia will stick with its existing pledge of cutting carbon emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels, by 2030. That’s in line with the Paris climate agreement, though Mr Morrison said Australia was on a pathway to net zero emissions.

“Our goal is to get there as soon as we possibly can, through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create,” he told the summit.

“Future generations… will thank us not for what we have promised, but what we deliver.”

Australia is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters on a per capita basis. Mr Morrison, who has faced sustained criticism over climate policy, said action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would focus on technology.

The prime minister said Australia is deploying renewable energy 10 times faster than the global average per person, and has the highest uptake of rooftop solar panels in the world.

Mr Morrison added Australia would invest $20bn ($15.4bn; 11.1bn) “to achieve ambitious goals that will bring the cost of clean hydrogen, green steel, energy storage and carbon capture to commercial parity”.

“You can always be sure that the commitments Australia makes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are bankable.”

Australia has seen growing international pressure to step up its efforts to cut emissions and tackle global warming. The country has warmed on average by 1.4 degrees C since national records began in 1910, according to its science and weather agencies. That’s led to an increase in the number of extreme heat events, as well as increased fire danger days.

Ahead of the summit, President Biden’s team urged countries that have been slow to embrace action on climate change to raise their ambition. While many nations heeded the call, big emitters China and India also made no new commitments.

“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” President Biden said at the summit’s opening address.

Referring to America’s new carbon-cutting pledge, President Biden added: “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting.”

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56854558

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Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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