Squiz Today / 21 December 2020
Squiz Today – Monday, 21 December
“Santa Claus is good to go.”
And that’s because US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci says he’s been to the North Pole, vaccinated Santa, and given him clearance to go to work later this week. Let’s just hope his reindeers have herd immunity…
NSW'S CHRISTMAS COVID NIGHTMARE
There are now 68 cases of COVID-19 linked to an outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches after 30 new cases were reported yesterday. And as the mystery of how it started is put under the microscope, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced new restrictions. The Northern Beaches area is in lockdown until Wednesday. As for Greater Sydney and the surrounding regions, there are crowd restrictions on gatherings at home, hospitality venues and places of worship. Visits to aged care homes are off, and the advice is to wear a mask when away from home. And forget going out for a Christmas boogie (unless you’re at a wedding where the bridal party is allowed to get down...).
AND THE REST OF AUSTRALIA HAS RESPONDED?
Big time… And there are a few variations on the theme:
• Victoria has declared Greater Sydney and the Central Coast a 'red zone' and non-Victorians who have been there since 11 December can't enter the state as of last night. Returning Victorians who have been there have until 11:59pm tonight to return home for 14 days quarantine at home instead of a hotel. Other NSW residents now need a permit to enter Victoria.
• South Oz is blocking anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches area from entering the state. Travellers from Greater Sydney will need to quarantine for 2 weeks, and anyone coming from regional New South Wales must have a test, but they don't need to isolate.
• Western Australia - forget about it, NSW. No one from the eastern state has been allowed in since midnight on Saturday.
• The Northern Territory has declared Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra and Central Coast a hotspot. From last night, anybody arriving from those areas will do a 14-day stint in quarantine.
• Since this morning, Queensland has declared Greater Sydney a hotspot, and residents are banned from entering the state unless they have an exemption. Queenslanders currently in Greater Sydney will have until 1am tomorrow to return if they want to isolate at home rather than a hotel.
• And the national capital - since last night, travellers coming from Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Illawarra and Blue Mountains will be required to quarantine.
It sure is. And while there's been praise from PM Scott Morrison and acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly for NSW’s actions, WA Premier Mark McGowan was critical of the state’s arrangements for flight crew. There's no evidence crew members are linked to the cluster, but it's been described as a vulnerability, and the NSW Government will require crew members to isolate in one of two hotels supervised by police and NSW Health from tomorrow. Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the state/territory responses point to a "lack of trust between our states and their contact tracing and testing systems". And families' Christmas plans across the country have been ruined. But officials had little choice, epidemiologist Raina MacIntyre writes, with Christmas and New Year a ‘super-spreading’ disaster waiting to happen.
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MEANWHILE, IN CORONAVIRUS NEWS FROM FURTHER AFIELD…
Several European nations are taking steps to ban flights and other arrivals from the UK as a new rapidly-spreading strain of the coronavirus ended the Christmas plans of residents of southeast England, including London. They will not be allowed to invite people to their homes for at least 2 weeks. Elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales, the rules will be relaxed on Christmas Day, down from an anticipated 5-day lockdown-breather. UK PM Boris Johnson said it was an "unquestionably a difficult moment", but promised that things would be "radically different" by Easter with the vaccination program making a dent in infections. Meanwhile, France has become the 7th nation with a death toll of more than 60,000 people as the number of cases heads towards 2.5 million. As for global numbers - infections have passed the 75 million mark with 18.65 million new cases added in the past month alone.
FIJI SMASHED BY CYCLONE YASA
At least 4 people, including a 3-month-old baby, died after the massive cyclone hit Fiji from Thursday night, the Red Cross confirmed yesterday. Reports say all the infrastructure and dwellings on the small island of Kia were destroyed while Vanua Levu, which is the nation's second-largest island, suffered 70% damage. The largest and most populated island of Viti Levu was spared the worst, but the main river has flooded, and the capital Suva was hit by heavy rain. With winds of up to 345km/hour when it struck the northern islands, communications are still cut off in parts. Ranadi Rauluna, who has lived through at least 15 cyclones, told the ABC that Yasa was a monster. "It's really, really, really a bad hit by the hurricane," she said. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said an Aussie Air Force aircraft will help with surveillance of the storm-affected areas and we will help Fiji with additional emergency supplies as required.
SHUFFLING THE MORRISON MINISTRY
It’s like doing the table settings for a wedding - one person pulls out, and it requires several shifts to rebalance the energy… That's what PM Scott Morrison has sought to achieve after former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann ditched federal politics for an Aussie Government plane and a tilt at leading the OECD. Filling his well-worn Finance shoes is Simon Birmingham, but we already knew that… Which means that Dan Tehan, who leaves Education, will take on Birmingham’s portfolio of Trade. Fingers crossed his number isn't blocked by China… Alan Tudge, formerly of acting Immigration/Four Corners fame, takes on Education. And Alex Hawke gets a promotion to a cabinet spot with Immigration. The other notable shift - Health Minister Greg Hunt takes on Aged Care at the Cabinet-level while the under-pressure Richard Colbeck retains Aged Care Services. Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Colbeck should have been shown the door after 685 Aussies died in aged care from the coronavirus this year. As for travelling to Canberra this week to be sworn in - #itscomplicated…
VALE DOUG ANTHONY
He died yesterday in his hometown of Murwillumbah at 90yo. If you asked those who grew up in the 80s and 90s, his name is forever linked to an irreverent group of musical comedians. But to those of an older generation, he was one of the most powerful politicians of his generation. Doug Anthony was the Deputy PM and leader of what’s now the Nationals for most of the 70s up until Labor’s Bob Hawke won government in 1983. For those more au fait with more recent Nats leaders, let’s just say Anthony’s era was different… He formed a block with party power brokers Peter Nixon and Ian Sinclair, and the 3 men wielded significant power in the Fraser Government. And throughout those summers, the country knew it was time to relax as Anthony ran the country from a caravan by the beach. Three generations of Anthonys represented the same electorate of Richmond in Far North NSW, with Doug's son Larry now the Nationals' federal president. "He was never judgmental, he was always humble, but he had an inner strength I haven't seen in many characters in my life," Larry said of his father yesterday.
APROPOS OF NOTHING - THAT'S AMAZING
Australian men's Test cricket side skittled India for 36 runs in 21.2 overs in their second innings on Saturday to take the match. It was India's lowest Test score ever. “It really hurts,” said captain Virat Kohli.
Would you like to earn US$29.5 million from reviewing toys on YouTube? Nine-year-old Texan Ryan Kaji has and that makes him the highest-paid person on the platform for the 3rd year running. That’s what 41.7 million subscribers and 12.2 billion views across the family’s channels will get you…
SQUIZ THE DAY
10.33pm (AEDT) - Jupiter and Saturn Conjunction. Look, it’s a once in a lifetime event…
ABS Data Releases - Mortality Statistics for January-October; Survey of Motor Vehicle Use FY’20
Birthdays for actor Samuel L Jackson (1948) and a COVID-stricken French President Emmanuel Macron (1977)
• scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discovering radium (1898)
• the premiere of the first full-length animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
• Psy's Gangnam Style becoming the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube (2012)
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