Thursday, March 05, 2020

COVID-19 hits nursing home

A 95-year-old resident of a Sydney aged-care facility who died this week tested positive for COVID-19, as criticism of the federal government’s response to the outbreak grows. It is feared that an aged-care worker also diagnosed with COVID-19 exposed residents of the nursing home to the virus, with another 82-year-old man being treated in hospital. Another five cases were also confirmed across Sydney on Wednesday evening, bringing the total number of cases in New South Wales to 22. Meanwhile, doctors are shopping at Bunnings to buy face masks because insufficient government supplies are getting to clinics, according to the ABC. GPs are also relying on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed about COVID-19 because they claim government communication is inconsistent and unclear. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has complained after Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt rejected his request for emergency coronavirus funding, reports The Australian ($). A dedicated coronavirus clinic is due to open in South Australia today, where two new cases were confirmed. Resources companies will hold a crisis meeting on Friday to co-ordinate a response to the risk of COVID-19 infecting their fly-in, fly-out workers, reports The West Australian ($).

Sports rort: A Victorian tennis club that missed out on funding in the compromised federal community sports grant program is taking legal action that could pave the way for others. Law firm Maurice Blackburn sent a letter of demand to the Australian Sports Commission requesting a reassessment of Beechworth Lawn Tennis Club’s application to build new courts, and warning it would take the matter to the Federal Court if needed. Maurice Blackburn principal Josh Bornstein told The Age that rejected applications should be reassessed because former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie’s interference in the program was unlawful. “This applies across the board in all clubs in that shire or other shires that were assessed on merit as meeting the threshold for the grant and subsequently missed out after the political interference took effect,” he said. The club sits within the federal electorate of Indi, held by Independent MP Helen Haines.

Five Eyes deal: A bill will be introduced today to the Australian parliament that would allow reciprocal rights for both United States and Aust­ralian security agencies to issue warrants for data held offshore by cloud providers. According to The Australian ($), The move coincides with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s trip to Washington, where he will meet security ­ministers from the Five Eyes ­intelligence alliance to finalise a global agreement forcing Facebook and Google to help shut down live streaming and sharing of child sex abuse.

US Democratic primary: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has become the latest moderate to end his presidential campaign and endorse former vice-president Joe Biden, who enjoyed a stronger-than-expected showing on “Super Tuesday” in the Democratic party primary, winning in nine states including Texas. Progressive senator Bernie Sanders won the biggest state on offer in California, but has lost momentum as the moderates coalesce behind Biden. Senator Elizabeth Warren is reportedly reconsidering her campaign, after a disappointing performance that included a third place finish in her home state of Massachusetts.


“In the week following the murder of the Clarke family, Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) has reported a significant increase in the number of calls for help they have received from women whose partners have threatened to do to them what Baxter did. In both an immediate and ongoing sense, Farmer says, ‘the more we deal with it, the more we see’.”


“The Australia 2020 Summit is usually written off as a failure because it produced so little meaningful and lasting policy. It is a disappointment of a piece with the rest of the Rudd years: too ambitious, too thin on detail, too micromanaged and too media-massaged. Journalist Chris Uhlmann, one of the thousand or so attendees, likened Rudd’s approach to a home handyman flitting from one unfinished job to the next, and in the agitated climate of early 2008, that mood was contagious.”


“There’s an old saying in politics, ‘Never waste a good crisis.’ And it’s crystal clear Scott Morrison isn’t wasting any moment where he can be seen responding to the threat coronavirus – or COVID-19, as it’s now known – is posing to Australia and the world. It stands in stark contrast with his derelict early response to the bushfire emergency.”


“‘I spoke to the leader of the Taliban today,’ said Trump. ‘We had a good conversation. We have agreed there is no violence. We don't want violence. We'll see what happens ... We had actually a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban.’ The phone call came three days after the US and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha on a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan after more than 18 years.”


“The agreement concedes too much to the Taliban without requiring it to make any substantive commitments to ensure a genuine peace process … As a result, many Afghans are worried that rather than being the start of a comprehensive peace process for the country, the deal is merely a cheap withdrawal troop agreement intended to serve US President Donald Trump’s political interests during an election year.”


“The coronavirus outbreak has created a black market for toilet paper and hand sanitiser in Australia due to everyone panic-buying every roll of TP and cleaner they can get their (bacteria-free) hands on. With everyone in Australia hoarding enough toilet paper to last well beyond the coronavirus and into the next apocalypse, the GOAT team got wondering about one little thing that’s come out of this panic-buying spree: how long will this massive toilet paper stockpile last?”

Your chance to win a double pass to Handel’s Messiah, courtesy of City Recital Hall

The Saturday Paper invites readers in Sydney to enter the draw for a chance to win a double pass to Handel’s Messiah, presented by City Recital Hall and Sydney Chamber Choir on Saturday, March 14.

Handel’s Messiah shocked the authorities, disrupted traffic, enthralled its audiences and brought a king to his feet. Composed in just 24 days, it was an instant hit and for almost three centuries has remained one of the world’s favourite choral works: visionary, lyrical and deeply human.

Entries close at 11.59pm AEDT on Thursday, March 5, and the winner will be notified on Friday, March 6.

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.