PM backs NSW response in COVID border wars
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has lambasted Daniel Andrews' road map for getting Victorians out of their COVID-19 lockdown hell, calling out the state for lacklustre contact tracing.
In a scathing rebuke of the Labor government, Mr Morrison said they must improve their ability to trace the source of COVID-19 cases and track down close contacts to allow "a more confident" return to normal as he warned of the nationwide economic fallout of keeping millions of Victorians under lockdown.
After describing Victoria's recovery road map as "crushing", Mr Morrison said on Monday he hoped that it represents the "worst-case scenario".
"I hope it's a starting point. I hope we can move more quickly than that," he said.
He declared his government would look into the plan and provide "constructive feedback" on the plan as the ongoing lockdown in Victoria strangles the national economy.
"It's actually going to impact on employment and on incomes, on revenues … there will be ripple effects of this announcement yesterday that will impact other parts of the country."
Mr Morrison also publicly took aim at the cases-per-day basis of the road map and compared it to NSW which he said had the gold standard for contact tracing in Australia.
Under the road map released on Sunday, Victoria's strict lockdown - that is keeping millions under house arrest - will only ease if the state records less than five cases per day for two weeks.
A frustrated Mr Morrison pointed out that if this matrix was applied in NSW then "Sydney would be under curfew now".
"Sydney doesn't need to be under curfew now. They have a tracing capability that can deal with outbreaks," he said.
He also publicly called for an explanation about "assumptions" underpinning the plan, including those about "the efficacy of contact tracing" and "whether improvements in contact tracing would enable that plan to be bettered".
In a ringing endorsement of the NSW government's ability to trace positive cases and close contacts, Mr Morrison said our contact tracing capabilities are the "standard" other states should strive for.
"What NSW is doing is working better than other places because they have the biggest threats to their system and have had the best results in response to those threats," he said.
In contrast, he said capacity in Victoria needs to increase to "get it at a level that enables (Victoria) to move in a more confident way," Mr Morrison said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Monday used public comments of leading epidemiologists to declare "there has been progress" in Victoria's contact tracing "but there's more to go".
WE HAVE TOO MANY INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, UNIS SAY
University chiefs have told a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the Future of Tertiary Education their world class research was at risk because of a revenue shortfall caused by the exodus of international students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have been excessively reliant on international student fees as a system to keep our research infrastructure going," University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said.
Dr Spence told the inquiry yesterday the university had done what it could to continue COVID-19 research and wanted to continue other research despite the reduction in revenue from international students.
"If we have seen anything during the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of having locally done work addressed to local problems," he said.
He said the revenue shortfall from the loss of international student enrolments could not simply be replaced with more domestic students because most universities lost money on educating Australian students.
University of NSW Vice Chancellor Dr Ian Jacobs told the inquiry the ongoing financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had put a number of research projects in financial jeopardy.
"The real issue facing our universities … is the risk to our outstanding high quality large scale research activity posed by the fact we are for the moment we are having a decrease in international students," he said.
"That will compromise our ability to deliver research."
RUBY PRINCESS PUT SAFETY BEFORE PROFITS
The operators of the ill-fated Ruby Princess put corporate profits before passenger safety after ignoring "extreme dangers" posed by coronavirus, a lawsuit alleges.
More than 900 passengers or their relatives from across Australia, Britain and the US, have joined a Federal Court class action against Bermuda-based Carnival Plc and Australian subsidiary Princess Cruise Lines Ltd.
Despite known outbreaks in two of their ships weeks before, court documents accuse company officials of ignoring "extreme dangers" to allow 2700 passengers, and 1100 crew, to board the vessel on March 8.
But after passengers disembarked into the community - rather than quarantine - when the trip was cut short on March 19, more than 700 patients then fell ill and 28 people died, including two South Australians.
Almost 40 per cent of Australians - the majority of whom were aged over 60 - contracted COVID-19, it alleges.
"(The companies) each had knowledge of an extreme danger, being a real danger of death or serious injury to any passenger who boarded," the 87-page claim alleges.
The company has yet to file a defence. A spokesman declined to comment ahead of a first hearing on Wednesday.
COVID EDUCATION REPORT WANTS MORE PARENT ENGAGEMENT
Teachers should "leverage" parents who homeschooled their children during the pandemic to improve student outcomes, a Department of Education review has found.
The Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic report urges teachers to "consider how to embed proactive relationships with parents to make them partners in learning".
"Many parents contributed significantly to the learning of children during this period, continued parent engagement should be leveraged to continue to support student outcomes," the report said.
It also recommended at least one device should be issued to every student to remove inequity if schools have to return to online learning.
It noted while cleaning contracts awarded to large providers offered the ability to increase the cleaning of schools by 25 per cent, they were considering reinstating traditional janitors in schools.
"To enable the continuation of the additional day cleaning in schools, options currently under consideration include … the reintroduction of a janitor role," it said.
School janitors used to take part in meetings about school health and safety in NSW public schools but their roles were outsourced to private companies in 1994.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she would consider the report's findings.
COVID WILL NOT RUIN MY WEEKEND, SAY VICTORIANS
Concerns about missing work and even the weekend are causing Victorians who fear they've got coronavirus to put off getting tested for so long some are going straight from hospital emergency departments to intensive care.
In some instances people delayed getting tested on a Friday because they didn't want to ruin their weekend by having to isolate.
Others felt embarrassed, wrongly believed they were too healthy or young to become infected or didn't want to miss work.
Austin Health nurse Kym Wade, unit manager of the hospital's COVID screening services, told The Daily Telegraph people showing symptoms had waited up to four days to get tested.
The delay was crucial because coronavirus often improved or worsened at the five day mark.
Symptoms also typically didn't present until two days after infection.
"They can be going along for a couple of days quite well and then four or five days down the track they can either go down the pathway of getting better or getting worse,'' Ms Wade said.
"If we don't know that they're positive there's no one monitoring these people so therefore they're delaying their treatment.
People showing symptoms who delayed getting a test also risked spreading the virus.
"There is also a component of embarrassment and they think it won't happen to them. Ignorance is bliss. But unfortunately this virus doesn't differentiate."
Originally published as PM backs NSW response in COVID border wars