Tag Archives: Explanation

Explanation: A ‘lie’ that locked up South Australia | Instant News


SYDNEY (Reuters) – South Australian officials said on Friday that “lies” led to the most severe coronavirus lockdown in the state because contact tracers were initially led to believe that a man was infected with a highly contagious virus with a much shorter incubation period.

In a surprise announcement on Friday, South Australian state Prime Minister Steven Marshall said the tight six-day lockdown would be lifted earlier than expected, at midnight on Saturday, because the virus was not as contagious as previously thought.

Marshall insists it is still a “dangerous” cluster with 25 infections and about 4,500 close contacts in quarantine.

HOW DOES THE INFECTION START IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA?

A security guard at a quarantine hotel, who also works part-time at a pizzeria, in the Adelaide state capital, Woodville Pizza Bar, became infected via a traveler returning from Britain.

A second worker, whose name was not identified by authorities, at another quarantine hotel in the city was also infected. Authorities said the man told the contact tracer that he only bought pizza from the same bar, even though they later discovered he worked multiple shifts there.

Authorities worked on the premise that the man had contracted the virus from a very brief exposure while buying a pizza, leading them to believe he must have been exposed to a highly contagious virus.

WHAT IS THE IMPLICATION?

“If this person were honest with the contact tracing team, we would not have locked ourselves up for six days,” Marshall told a news conference in Adelaide on Friday.

The second consequence is that the contact tracer now needs to find and isolate a new group of people who have come into contact with the man.

“There is an absolute need for us to move quickly over the next 24-36 hours to identify and locate these people so that we know we have eliminated the risk of spreading this virus further into the community,” added Marshall.

HOW DO AUTHORITIES LOOK FOR?

The contact tracing team sits down and interviews the worker. Another team reviewed information obtained in interviews, but were not satisfied with “the feeling they get out of this,” said South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, speaking at the conference.

The review team resumed interviews with the man, who eventually revealed that he worked multiple shifts at the pizza bar.

Prime Minister Marshall said it was not clear what the man’s motivation was.

IS THERE ANY PUNISHMENT FOR MISLEADING CONTACT TRACKERS?

No, although the current legislation will likely be reviewed.

“There’s no mechanism for us to really take any further action,” Marshall said.

IS SOUTH AUSTRALIA GETTING OUT OF THE WOOD?

Not. Authorities are still trying to find thousands of people who may have made “dangerous contacts” at the Woodville Pizza Bar.

The state’s chief public health officer, Nicola Spurrier, also warned that the number of cases in South Australia will increase over the next few days, even though these people are already in isolation and are not a threat to the wider community.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Edited by Kenneth Maxwell

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How Australia will consider prosecution after this important Afghan military report | Instant News


SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia will consider whether there is enough evidence to press charges against 19 current and former special forces soldiers after a report said there was credible information that 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians were unlawfully killed.

Below is an outline of how Australia will consider criminal prosecution:

A SPECIAL EXAMINER TO BE APPOINTED

Ahead of the report’s release, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week a special investigator would be appointed.

Australia’s most senior military commander on Thursday said 19 people recommended for possible prosecution would be referred to this particular investor.

Once appointed, Morrison said special investigators would gather evidence.

“There is a large number of incidents or issues that need to be investigated further and that investigation is inherently complex,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

“The investigation will require cooperation with international agencies and a large number of evaluations of the material.”

The office of a special investigator is expected to be operational next year, Morrison said.

EVIDENCE GIVEN TO THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTION

Once evidence is gathered, Morrison said, it will be forwarded to the Commonwealth of Australia’s Director of Public Prosecution to determine whether the charges were purchased.

Morrison said it was too early to determine whether or when the charges would be filed.

LOCAL DEMANDS WILL AVOID THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds said Canberra had been informed that if the local prosecution continued it would drop the charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Edited by Michael Perry

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Can President-Elect Joe Biden Help Save the Amazon? | Instant News


men traditional congratulations message places, Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro meet Joe Biden’s 2020 election win with a strange and provocative message. “We recently saw a great candidate for head of state say that if I don’t put out the fires in the Amazon, he will put up a commercial barrier against Brazil,” Bolsonaro said at an event days after the presidential election was held. for Biden. “How do we handle it? Diplomacy is not enough. When words failed, someone had to have gunpowder. “

A seemingly reckless threat – a reaction to Biden’s calls during a debate in September for Brazil to face “economic consequences” for failing to fight deforestation in the Amazon rainforest – underlines what may be a major fault line in Brazil-US relations under President Biden.

Last year Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research recorded 2.4 million hectares of deforested forest in the Amazon –an increase of almost 30% in 2018, years before Bolsonaro took office, and 2020 is already in sight record the number of forest fires. The president has simultaneously rejected any blame for the fires, arguing that the Amazon is a State resources can and must generate money to develop its economy. His critics say the belief has led to a culture of impunity for farmers and other land-grabbers who burn to cut trees. Attempts by leaders in Germany, Norway and France to harness economic power to force Brazil to take action were unsuccessful, drawing little criticism from the president. Last year, Bolsonaro notified German Chancellor Angela Merkel to “Restoring Germany” rather than obsessing over Amazon.

But environmentalists hope a change in administration in the US can play a role in stopping deforestation in the Amazon, just as scientists say it’s getting closer. critical point from which he could never recover. The disappearance of Bolsonaro’s heroes and allies Donald Trump – who praises his reign handling Amazon-, combined with the possible economic consequences for the Brazilian business community will add to international pressure and, perhaps, move the needle.

“I have no doubt that a change in administration in the US will have an impact on Brazil’s environmental policy,” said Brazilian congressman Alessandro Molon, who heads Brazil’s opposition Socialist Party in the deputy chamber. “Until now, Donald Trump served as a supporter of the Brazilian president for acting irresponsibly. Now with the US adding to European pressure, Brazil is becoming more isolated and the government will find it more difficult to stay on this stupid path. “

Molon argues that international pressure is key to protecting the Amazon because while Brazil’s pro-environmental opposition has prevented Bolsonaro from changing many of the rules that protect rainforests, his congress cannot force the government to enforce the rules or use resources to put out fires. “At the level of action, it really depends on the executive power and the presidential pen that is in Bolsonaro’s hands,” he said. “We can’t force his hand yet. US pressure, adding to European pressure, can. “

What has the international community tried so far?

The EU has been a major source of pressure on the Brazilian government. The Amazon issue has been a pivotal point in the ratification of a trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur – the South American trade bloc of which Brazil is by far the largest member. – that has been in the works for two decades. After massive protests by climate activists in Europe, leaders in France, Ireland and Austria said in October they will block Parliamentary approval is needed in member states for the agreement to take effect unless Bolsonaro does more to fight deforestation.

The international community has tried carrots, as well as sticks. In August 2019, the G7 offered $ 22 million in assistance to Brazil to pay for fire fighting efforts. Bolsonaro was quick to turn down the money, before accepting a smaller pot from England

International business is also trying to intervene. In July, 29 global investment companies sending a letter to vice president Hamilton Moraou who warned that they would not be able to invest in Brazil in the future if there were “unacceptable risks contributing to serious environmental degradation or human rights abuses.”

The Brazilian government has responded to several instances of this pressure by announcing a temporary ban on lighting fires in the Amazon and by deploying troops to help combat illegal deforestation activities. But environmentalists say the effort is only a fraction of what is needed. “The Bolsonaro government tries to pretend to other countries that they comply with the rules, but they are doing the minimum,” said Fabiana Alves, Climate and Justice Coordinator for Greenpeace Brazil.

Will Biden pull the economic levers to force Amazon action?

Although Biden’s climate plan does not name Brazil, but pledges to “charge carbon adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-dense goods from countries that fail to meet their climate and environmental obligations”. While it is too early to say whether the new administration will impose such punishments on Brazil, there are various trade levers that the US can pull back, said Lisa Viscidi, director of the Energy Industries, Climate Change and Extractive Industries Program at Inter-American. Dialog, a think tank focused on the relationship between Wasgington and Latin America. “This could, for example, try to change the existing trade agreement between the two countries,” he said. Viscidi cited a renegotiation of a free trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico in 2017, which added new environmental conditions after pressure from campaign groups.

The US is Brazil’s second largest trading partner, but American trade pressures may not have a significant impact on the industries driving deforestation. It is not a major buyer of Brazilian beef and soybeans, which are mainly exported to China.

As a result, André Nassar, president of the Aboive vegetable oil industry group, which represents the soy industry, said he did not expect the US to try to impose pressure on Brazil through direct trade as Europe does. “What I think will change [with the Biden administration] is that there will be a push in Brazil to control illegal deforestation, ”he said, distinguishing between deforestation for agricultural purposes which is sometimes allowed under Brazilian law, and irregular land grabbing. “If Biden’s rhetoric says,” Brazil, you need to control illegal deforestation “, we as the private sector will support it.”

As proof that the business community is in control of environmental issues in the Bolsonaro administration, you can look to 2018. Then president-elect Bolsonaro expressed his desire to follow Trump and pull Brazil out of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change. Brazilian agribusinesses have loudly voiced their concerns in the Brazilian media about what can be done to Brazil’s image in global trade, and the country remains. “When it becomes clear that there is a threat to investment, or Brazilian products, the government will listen to the business,” said Nassar.

How else can the Biden government move the needle?

Brazil’s longstanding aspirations to enter the OECD – a group of 37 economically developing countries – offer another option for the Biden administration to curb action on deforestation. Membership will offer Brazilian prestige and make it more attractive to investors. In October, Bolsonaro’s economy minister Paulo Guedes said Brazil was on the right track to join the group by one year and that “two-thirds” of the preparatory work had been completed. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed up the offer, saying “We want this to happen as quickly as we can.” If the Biden administration uses US weight in the OECD to make Brazil’s accession dependent on Amazon protection, it will sharply increase pressure from the country’s business community in Bolsonaro, according to Marcio Astrini, executive director of Sao Paulo-based Climate Watch.

Astrini said the real impact of the change in government in the US would be a new dynamic in the intergovernmental forum. “Trump has become a kind of” bigger crime “on the climate. Brazil may be a problem, but the US – historically the world’s largest emitter and economy – is the focus of the international community and the UN climate arm. “Now with Biden promised to re-enter the Paris Agreement and the West is more united in climate ambition, and even as China pledged to drastically reduce its emissions at home, Brazil would be “shamefully isolated,” Astrini said.

The test for Brazil’s new status in the limelight will take place next year, as all Paris agreement countries will announce new national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by November 2021, when the next UN climate conference will take place in Glasgow. Deforestation accounted for 44% of Brazil’s emissions in 2019.

The Biden administration could also try incentives, rather than punishments, to encourage Bolsonaro government action. At a presidential debate in September, Biden suggested that the international community raise $ 20 billion and offer it to Brazil to protect the Amazon. The message received ridicule from the environment minister Ricardo Salles, who asked if it would be an annual payment.

Viscidi said there were more “positives” the US could do. “It can be said to Brazil that there is a way you can develop the economy and conserve the forest at the same time and we will support you,” said Viscidi. “But whatever the US does, it must find a strategy that addresses the dynamic in which Brazil sees protecting the Amazon as a pure violation of their sovereignty. That’s the key to stopping deforestation. “

Write to Ciara Nugent at [email protected].

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The Pacific Islands Are The Last Country Without COVID-19 | Instant News


Eeight months after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, COVID-19 reached the last place on Earth untouched by the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation about 1,200 miles northeast Australia, reported its first case of COVID-19. Two other countries in the Pacific Ocean, the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands, reported their first infections in October. In Samoa, workers servicing ships with crew who test positive for COVID-19 are in quarantine.

By most estimates, fair nine countries has not reported any cases of COVID-19. Except for North Korea and Turkmenistan, where experts say COVID-19 is likely, all of them are remote Pacific island nations – Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Samoa.

All of the last remaining COVID-19-free countries are believed to be remote islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Lon Tweeten / TIME

Most Pacific island nations closed their borders at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. But as infections spiked worldwide, with cases exceeding 50 million, the coronavirus started to creep in.

In Vanuatu, files Department of Health said a 23-year-old man who recently returned from the United States confirmed to have the virus after being tested while in quarantine. In response to the COVID-19 case, the government has suspended transportation in and out of the capital Port Vila and has launched an operation to track and test everyone who may have been in contact with the man.

Vanuatu, which consists of about 80 islands stretching for 800 miles in the South Pacific Ocean, close its borders in March to prevent the entry of the virus. Even prohibit foreign aid workers entered the country after a Category 5 hurricane hit the country in April. But it makes Vanuatu possible citizens and citizens of foreign countries back home.

Read more: Tracking the Spread of the Corona Virus Outbreak Around the World

The Marshall Islands recorded their first cases in the last week of October in workers who had been on a US military base arrived from Hawaii. Solomon Islands also recorded its first case in early October; The remote island chain has since confirmed more than a dozen cases among arrivals in quarantine. The two have yet to document community transmission of the virus, and this week the Marshall Islands are declaring themselves COVID-19 is free again.

In Samoa, three crew members who stopped at the port have tested positive for the virus in recent days; workers serving the ship now in isolation.

Many Pacific islands ‘are unable to cope with even a few cases of COVID-19’

The good news is, because COVID-19 is taking so long to get there, these Pacific countries have time to prepare – and maybe be able to stop the virus spreading through their populations.

Lana Elliott, a public health expert in the Pacific at Queensland University of Technology, hopes that the first case of Vanautu can be resolved. He said that having had no cases of COVID-19 until this week had bought several countries 300,000 people important time.

The government and the health ministry, he said, have been “working diligently over the last few months to prepare for this precise situation. There are processes in place to ensure these patients can be treated and threats to health workers and the wider population are managed. “

There is reason to be concerned about Vanuatu’s ability to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, if the virus starts spreading in society.

“Vanuatu, like many small islands in the Pacific, has not been able to deal with even a few cases of COVID-19,” said Colin Tukuitonga, a dean at the University of Auckland medical school and former chief executive of New Zealand. Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. “A number of cases on a small island will burden the health system; this is a very small and poorly funded health system. They often lack critical equipment, critical skills, “he said.

Read more: This Tiny Nation Has No Corona Virus Cases. After a Devastating Typhoon, They Refuse Foreign Aid Workers to Stay That Way

As a result, contact tracing capabilities are of the utmost importance in preventing community transmission. “That’s the test. How quickly and how reliably local authorities can identify contacts, “he said. “This is not an easy job.”

And unlike many countries in Asia Pacific that have used application for tracing contactsNo such technology is available in Vanuatu, he said, which would make the contact tracing process even more challenging.

Vanuatu’s public health director, Len Tarivonda, said that about 200 people have been identified as potential contacts of infected men, including airline, customs and hotel staff, all of whom are now undergoing testing.

“We are concerned about that, especially because staff who work at the border or airlines, they will return to their families since last week,” Tarivonda recounted Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio programs.

Dan McGarry, an independent journalist who has lived in Vanuatu for more than 17 years, told TIME that the news had sparked fear in Vanuatu, and some people were buying face masks to prepare for a possible outbreak. But most people believe that the disease can still be treated, he said.

“We are vulnerable and we know that. Our healthcare services have never been better, and intensive care simply doesn’t exist. We don’t have respirators, and we have very limited critical care facilities. If this is to reach the outer islands, the people there have almost no health care services available to them. “

Margaret Kenning, who lives on a small island in Vanuatu called Nguna, said her neighbors had gathered to hear the midday news at transistor radio on Wednesday to hear how the government plans to handle its first COVID-19 cases.

The island has not yet been spared the effects of COVID-19

Although Vanuatu has successfully fended off the coronavirus until this week, it has not been spared the economic hardships caused by the worldwide pandemic. Tess Newton Cain, project leader for Pacific Hub at Griffith Asia Institute, a research center, said that the Pacific islands—almost all among them have also closed their borders to prevent the entry of COVID-19 – it has taken a hit economically. The economy that depends on Vanuatu tourism is expected to decline 8.3% this year. Others had even worse. In Fiji, that has mostly been close to tourism, GDP is expected to fall by more than 20% this year.

Journalist McGarry said that despite Vanuatu’s generous government bailout program, unemployment is skyrocketing and foreclosures are increasing day by day. “We bent as far as we could, but things started to break down,” he said.

While closing borders “is very good at managing the health impact, it has quite a deleterious effect on the economy,” said Newton Cain. “There are a lot of jobs lost, a lot of businesses focused on tourism are closed or are working significantly reduced hours.”

Still, Tukuitonga, a former New Zealand diplomat, said trying to keep the virus completely out of the country remains the right strategy for Vanuatu and many other countries in the Pacific.

“The main objective of maintaining or keeping it on the border is still right because if it enters the community, the islands will be overwhelmed,” he said.

Write to Amy Gunia at [email protected].

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COVID-19 on Food Packaging: Why Experts Are Not Worried | Instant News


They reportedly found it in the package Ecuadorian Shrimp, squids from Russia and Norwegian seafood.

Since June, Chinese health authorities have detected genetic traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on cooled down and frozen food from all over the world. Then, on October 17, the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it had isolated active SARS-CoV-2 in imported fish packs. The agency said this the world’s first invention, created while tracing the recent outbreak in Qingdao to two dock workers, indicating contaminated food packaging can cause infection.

While it remains unclear whether dock workers actually caught COVID-19 from the seafood they handle, the government is stepping up precautionary measures. Qingdao will now examine carefully all the frozen food that comes in (after test all 9 million inhabitants), while Beijing city government owns company urgently to avoid imports of frozen food from countries hard hit by the pandemic – although not specifically stated.

Concerns over the possibility of transmission through imported food are getting higher China, which has almost eradicated domestic pathogen transmission. It is the only country that enforces large-scale coronavirus inspections on incoming shipments.

Elsewhere, health authorities are more skeptical. The US Centers for Disease Control says there is “there is no proof“To suggest that food is associated with the spread of the virus, whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) says it is no need to disinfect food packaging. New Zealand meanwhile ruled out the theory that the August outbreak was connected to a cold chain storage facility.

Read more: Wuhan tries to get back to normal, but the scars from the pandemic disappear

China’s CDC says 670,000 samples from frozen and packaged foods was tested for COVID-19 on September 15. Reportedly, only 22 of them were positive (and prior to the Qingdao case, it was unclear whether any coronavirus was detected that was still active when thawed).

In recent months, the world’s second largest economy has temporarily suspended large imports of fish and meat. disrupt trade with some countries and reported to cause delivery congestion.

Some health experts deny the need for such precautions. Although cold temperatures can preserve the corona virus, they still doubt that food and its packaging are a big threat.

“Theoretically it makes sense, but the risk is much lower than other more established viral transmission routes,” said Siddharth Sridhar, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

What did China discover?

China stepped up monitoring of imported food after a second wave in June that infected 335 people was attributed to Beijing’s vast Xinfadi market. The outbreak, which stopped running the capital for 56 consecutive days without new local infections, prompted partial closures of the city and an investigation into its origins.

Authorities suggested a supply of salmon from Europe might be the source after the virus was reported to have been found in a filleting board. This causes a while freeze on salmon imports, impacting exporters in Chile, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Australia and Canada. Although other people have debated that the fish are to blame, investigators in China have since duplicated on potential actors.

Also in June, China stopped importing poultry from a Tyson Foods Factory in the US amid concerns about an outbreak at the facility. And in Tianjin, a major port, authorities have reportedly started mandating coronavirus tests for all meat and seafood containers.

At the time, Li Fengqin, head of the laboratory at China’s National Food Safety Risk Assessment Center, told reporters that possibly catching the virus from frozen food and packages cannot be excluded.

Other cities come into action. In August, Shenzhen – a fast-growing technology hub bordering Hong Kong – established a central warehouse where all imported food is filtered before being sold.

Since early September, China has temporarily banned imports from 56 companies in 19 countries, including those from the US, Indonesia and Europe.

Cui He, president of the China Aquatic Product Processing and Marketing Alliance, acknowledged that it is impractical to impose a total ban on imported frozen food. “More than 100 countries around the world export frozen seafood to China,” he said state-run media.

Exporters of meat, milk and other foods have been asked to do so signed documents stated that the product was not contaminated with the corona virus.

The observation has drawn criticism from industry bodies. In September, the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Food called restrictions around food imports “not justified scientifically. “

Getting COVID-19 from food or packaging is not easy

Getting COVID-19 from food packaging is not easy and, although possible, depends on a complex set of events, health experts told TIME.

First, an infected person should cough or sneeze on the packaging. Then, while the virus is still active, other people need to touch the pack before touching their own eyes, nose or mouth.

“Everything we know about this virus shows that person-to-person transmission is the mode of transmission,” he said Emanuel Goldman, a professor of microbiology at Rutgers University.

Researchers are still studying how long the virus can stay active on food surfaces at various temperatures. According to WHO, coronavirus in general very stable in the freezing state, and studies have even shown survival of up to two years at -4 ° F.

But even if food or packaging tests positive, it doesn’t mean it’s contagious.

“The most commonly used tests can tell us that there is some viral component to the package, [but] we don’t know the status of the virus, ”said Sarah Cahill, senior food standards officer at the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the body responsible for developing food standards under WHO. “Is it still intact? Is it still feasible? Can it still cause infection? “

Read more: COVID-19 Is Transmitted By Aerosol. We Have Enough Evidence, Now It’s Time to Act

How to stay safe

The US Food and Drug Administration said so aware from China screening incoming products, seafood and meat for COVID-19. But in a statement emailed to TIME, a spokesperson said, “There is currently no evidence of food, food containers or food packaging being linked to the transmission of COVID-19.”

HKU’s Sridhar does not recommend extensive screening of imported food items, which he likens to “looking for a needle in a haystack”.

Dale Fisher, a professor of medicine at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, said China’s concern stems from a different approach to the virus than that of most other countries in the world.

He said China had “chosen to monitor this because they have zero tolerance for such cases. If you don’t target zero, then there are different tolerances for risk. “

After all, ordinary consumers need not worry, he said.

“By the time the food reaches the consumer, it has been stacked and moved enough to see the virus is very dilute and unlikely at a sufficient dose to cause infection.”

To avoid the corona virus, health experts continue to advise people to wash their hands with soap and water and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

Stay up to date with our daily coronavirus newsletter with a click here.

Write to Amy Gunia at [email protected].

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