Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck has been stripped of responsibility for activating aged-care emergency Covid-19 measures, as Labor calls for his resignation over the handling of the crisis. Responsibility for mobilising an aged care emergency response operations centre when an outbreak occurs in a nursing home has been shifted to Health Minister Greg Hunt, reports The Australian. It comes as Labor leader Anthony Albanese calls for Senator Colbeck’s resignation over the crisis, pointing to the royal commission into aged care’s finding that the federal government did not enact a specific Covid-19 plan for the sector, and Colbeck’s inability to recall the number of virus deaths in nursing homes at a hearing last week. Colbeck apologised in parliament on Monday, and said 328 people had died in connection to aged care. It comes as an independent report into the outbreak at Sydney’s Newmarch House criticised the government’s claims the sector was prepared, listing “a vicious cycle of staff and PPE shortages, sub-optimal infection prevention and control practice”.
A report from a New South Wales independent inquiry into the Black Summer bushfires was signed off by state cabinet on Monday night, with the Berejiklian government to accept all 76 recommendations. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that one recommendation will see landowners in fire-prone areas required to carry out hazard-reduction burns on their properties. The Daily Telegraph reports landowners will face “less green tape” when conducting burns, and that Indigenous cultural burning practices will be “examined”. The RFS will also investigate and trial grazing on national parks, a measure previously derided by NSW environment minister Matt Kean. No specific climate change measures were leaked to the media. It comes one day after the Victorian government unveiled a $110 million recovery plan to help fire-affected communities.
Labor will retain majority government in the Northern Territory, with the party securing at least 13 seats in the 25-member assembly following the NT election on Saturday. Northern Territory Electoral Commission figures show Labor ahead in 16 seats as the vote count continues, with the Country Liberals leading in six, independents in two and the Territory Alliance in one. The Country Liberal Party conceded defeat on Monday afternoon. A formal declaration of the poll is not scheduled until September 7.
Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have reported what appears to be the first confirmed case of Covid-19 reinfection. A 33-year-old man was first infected in late March and then seemingly contracted the virus again in August while travelling in Europe. Researchers sequenced the virus from the patient’s two infections and found that they did not match, indicating the second infection was not tied to the first. Experts cautioned the patient’s case could be an outlier and that immune protection may generally last longer than just a few months. Previous reports of cases of Covid-19 reinfection have been based on anecdotal evidence and largely attributed to flaws in testing.