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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Boating is the antidote to pandemic blues

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Boating is the antidote to pandemic blues

Boating is the antidote to pandemic blues

by Darren Vaux, BIA President

Being in, on or around water is good for the mind and good for the body. Wallace J Nicholl’s best-selling book, Blue Mind, explored the measurable effects of proximity to, and activities involving, water on the human body and confirmed what all boaters intrinsically know. Boating reduces stress and invokes a sense of wellbeing. In creates connections between people and encourages immersion in nature. Boating is good for you.

We need access to boating now more than ever. The restrictions and stress associated with the pandemic over the last 18 months have created social isolation and frustration. We all need a relief valve but understandably governments around Australia, and the world, have had to take drastic action to limit the spread of the virus and save lives. Coupled with this heavy burden is the fundamental responsibility, in free societies, to minimise the nature and duration of restrictions to personal freedoms. As such, they also have a responsibility to permit activities that do not contribute to the transmission of the disease. This is fundamental to mental health and preservation of individual rights. Lockdowns can’t last forever, and it is now very clear that as the Covid-19 virus mutates, elimination is not an option for the foreseeable future.

We will all have to live with restrictions and Covid Safe practices and actions that limit the spread of the virus. We need Covid Safe activities that restore our sense and rights of freedom and in that regard, boating is the standout choice and, on the water, the safest place to be.

Boating… paddleboards, kayaks, small sailing craft, tinnies, runabouts, fishing boats, yachts, tow-sports and cruisers, large and small. There is a boat for all ages and all budgets, and boating alone or with your immediate family is the very definition of social distancing. With the implementation of Covid Safe practices at the beach, the boat ramp or marina, families and friends can get out on the water, engage their Blue Mind and enjoy the magnificent waterways that Australia has to offer.

This is what the community wants and demands. With industry turnover up 11% and industry employment up 9% on last year the boating industry saw an increase in boat registrations to some 18,500 last year with many first-time boat owners. Over 2.5 million people in Australia now hold a boat licence and 20% of the population go boating each year. People have bought boats to escape the pandemic blues. The community want to go boating and boating must be one of the first activities that provides relief from any current or future lockdowns. In doing so, it will also provide a number of other benefits:

· It will relieve the pressure of overcrowding of greenspaces and beaches enabling people to access our magnificent and extensive blue spaces;
· It can be conducted safely on our waterways without unnecessary LGA or short distance limitations from home. Once you are on the water you are socially distanced and should be allowed the freedom to explore and find uncrowded blue spaces;
· It can be managed with clear and consistent guidelines about guests onboard and limits and rules relating to raft ups or landing at beaches or jetties;
· It is a safe and enjoyable activity for many people in the broader Australian community; and
· It’s a clear step toward feeling normal again.

It is imperative that boating be included in any initial easing of current and any future restrictions in jurisdictions across Australia. There are significant physical, mental and community benefits to be gained from encouraging people to responsibly go boating in all its forms as the antidote to pandemic blues.

With spring upon us and daylight saving just around the corner in many States, it is time for restrictions to be eased and for governments to take the proactive action to encourage people to go boating.

The 2021 BIA industry report infographic is at https://www.bia.org.au/documents/item/1576

The BIA Discover Boating website is at https://discoverboating.com.au/

COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

AUS passes 2m Covid cases, hits 1-in-10 NSW & VIC residents

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AUS passes 2m Covid cases, hits 1-in-10 NSW & VIC resident

AUS passes 2m Covid cases, hits 1-in-10 NSW & VIC residents

Australia has just passed two million official Covid cases today (Thursday), with one-in-10 New South Wales and Victorian residents now living with a diagnosis leading into the upcoming Federal Election, the latest VaxEnomicTM Forecaster from C-suite strategy group Provocate reveals.

Provocate Managing Director Troy Bilsborough said it represented a doubling of cases in under two weeks since Provocate first revealed Australia had hit the one-million case mark last Monday (10 January 2022).

“It took Australia two years to reach its first one million Covid cases and under two weeks to reach its second,” said Mr Bilsborough – a former senior advisor to Federal Health, Aged Care and Child Care Ministers.

“Healthcare influenced more votes than any other issue at the last Federal election and two million Australians now living with a Covid diagnosis will likely entrench that.

“This week’s negative polling on the Federal Government’s handling of the pandemic and economy continues to support our prediction that Covid and health will likely sway votes – and even the result – at May’s election.

“The arrival of a heavily-mutated variant like Omicron within five months of Delta also means there’s every chance Australia could be facing another outbreak from another new variant heading into the Federal Election campaign.”

“However, the biggest threat to business and voter confidence is not the virus itself, but politically-opposed state and Federal governments making decisions based on electionomics, not epidemiology or the economy.

It comes as top US Government Covid adviser Anthony Fauci also warned on Tuesday Omicron may not be the end of Covid with further mutations possible, supporting Provocate’s recent prediction Australia could be facing another virus variant in time for the next Federal election, slated for May 2022.

AUS passes 2m Covid cases, hits 1-in-10 NSW & VIC resident

AUS passes 2m Covid cases, hits 1-in-10 NSW & VIC resident

“The big unknown is whether Covid continues to matter when Australia is predicted to go to the polls in May – and whether opposition parties can continue to maintain voter dissatisfaction for that long.

“Much of this will hinge on how the longer-term impacts of Covid for the millions of Australians who now caught the virus, and how much onus attention medical, patient and worker representations place on having them recognised as chronic illness.”

About 90 per cent of total Australian cases have been recorded in the seven weeks since Omicron’s arrival in late November. That equates to an 800%+ increase in recorded cases in less than seven weeks, noting actual infections in the community were likely double or more that due to restricted testing options.

Provocate last week predicted the rapid transition from Covid as a public health and economic threat to a personal problem for millions of Australians would negatively impact voter views towards the Federal Government leading into the Election.

This was supported by this week’s Resolve Political Monitor, which showed since the May 2021 Federal Budget:

· a -22 point decline in the Federal Government’s lead on handling of Covid and the pandemic.

· a -13 point decline in the Federal Government’s lead on handling of economic management.

· a -10 point decline in the Federal Government’s lead on handling of health & aged care, with the Opposition now in front.

· a -5 point decline in the Federal Government’s primary vote, with the Opposition taking the lead for the first time during that period.

· A -16 point decline in the Federal Government’s lead on Preferred Prime Minister.

 

Figure 1 Source: Provocate analysis of ANU 'The 2019 Election Study'

Figure 1 Source: Provocate analysis of ANU ‘The 2019 Election Study’

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

TGA Approves Pfizer’s Novel COVID-19 Oral Treatment in Australia

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The NSW Northern Rivers Times COVID19 News Updates

TGA Approves Pfizer’s Novel COVID-19 Oral Treatment in Australia

• Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approves PAXLOVID™ (nirmatrelvir [PF-07321332] tablets and ritonavir tablets) for supply to Australia.

• PAXLOVID is the first oral treatment of its kind; it includes nirmatrelvir, a 3CL (or main) protease inhibitor that was specifically designed to combat SARS-CoV-2.

• Pfizer Australia has entered an agreement with the Australian Government to supply 500,000 treatment courses over 2022.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, 20 January 2021 – Pfizer announced today that Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted provisional approval for the supply and use in Australia of PAXLOVID™ (nirmatrelvir [PF-07321332] tablets and ritonavir tablets. PAXLOVID has provisional approval for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in adults 18 years of age and older, who do not require initiation of supplemental oxygen due to COVID-19 and are at increased risk of progression to hospitalisation or death.

PAXLOVID is the first oral antiviral of its kind; it includes nirmatrelvir, a 3CL protease (also known as Main protease or Mpro) inhibitor that was specifically developed in Pfizer’s laboratories to combat SARS-CoV-2. Under this authorisation, PAXLOVID can be prescribed as an oral treatment to certain high-risk adults within the first 5 days of symptomatic infection, potentially helping patients avoid severe illness which can lead to hospitalisation or death.

“This milestone in Australia is an important moment in our continued fight against COVID-19, paving the way for use of PAXLOVID as cases continue to rise and we address the threat of a new variant of concern, Omicron,” said Anne Harris, Pfizer Australia and New Zealand Managing Director. “This at-oral therapy, developed to reduce hospitalisations and save lives, has the potential to transform COVID-19 treatment and help lessen the devastating impact of the virus that has now taken over 5 million lives globally”, Ms Harris said.

The TGA based its decision on positive results from the Phase 2/3 EPIC-HR (Evaluation of Protease Inhibition for COVID-19 in High-Risk Patients) interim analysis, which enrolled non-hospitalised adults with confirmed COVID-19 who were at increased risk of progressing to severe illness. The data demonstrated an 89% reduction in risk of COVID-19-related hospitalisation or death from any cause in adults treated with PAXLOVID compared to placebo in those treated within three days of symptom onset, with no deaths in the treatment group. Similar results were seen in those treated within five days of symptom onset. Treatment-emergent adverse events were comparable between PAXLOVID (19%) and placebo (21%), most of which were mild in intensity. Pfizer recently announced that results from the final analysis of the primary endpoint from all patients enrolled in EPIC-HR were consistent with the interim analysis, confirming efficacy with a similar safety profile. Additional Phase 2/3 clinical trials are ongoing in adults at standard risk of progressing to severe illness, and in those who have been exposed to the virus through household contacts.

In October 2021, Pfizer announced an agreement with the Australian Government to supply 500,000 treatment courses of PAXLOVID over 2022. With the oral treatment now approved for supply and use by the TGA, Pfizer will begin delivering the first treatment courses from Q1 2022.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Under 12s to access protection against the worst of COVID from Monday 10 January

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Under 12s to access protection against the worst of COVID from Monday 10 January

Under 12s to access protection against the worst of COVID from Monday 10 January

• Pfizer vaccine available from Monday 10 January to children aged 5 to 11 years.
• Parents and guardians are encouraged to book through the Vaccine Clinic Finder.
• Vaccination protects our younger community members from the worst of COVID.
Children aged 5 to 11 in the North Coast region will be eligible to receive a new, lower-dose formulation of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine from Monday 10 January 2022.
With the dramatic increase in transmission rates due to the now-dominant Omicron strain, Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer Julie Sturgess is strongly encouraging parents and guardians to make a booking for children in their care in the coming weeks.
‘We know that vaccination reduces the risk of transmission as well as serious illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19,’ said Ms Sturgess.
‘The North Coast community vaccination rate for those aged 16 and up now stands at 93.6%, and our 12 to 15 year-olds have been eligible to book their COVID vaccination since September 2021.
‘With the strong uptake in our region, we expect that parents and carers are well acquainted with the benefits of vaccination and are ready to extend the same level of protection to our younger community members,’ Ms Sturgess said.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 years in December 2021, following earlier approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Approval was based on a careful evaluation of available data to support its safety and efficacy among this age group.
The under-12s Pfizer vaccine is 10μg (0.2mL) or only a third of the recommended 30μg dose administered to people aged 12 and over.
The smaller dose will have an orange-capped vial to differentiate it from the 12 years and older vaccine.
Children under 12 will still receive two doses, though these will be eight weeks apart, unlike the three-week interval for older cohorts.
Health advice is that a longer interval between doses appears to generate a stronger immune response.
‘We’re encouraging any parent or guardian to use the Vaccine Clinic Finder to book an appointment over the coming weeks, while their school-aged children are still on holidays,’ Ms Sturgess said.
‘If you are unable to find a suitable appointment, please check back regularly as more appointments will become available as supply to the region increases.
‘Healthy North Coast is also open to working with other appropriate venues and locations, which may include schools, to expedite the rollout.’
Any parent of guardian who has concerns about the suitability of the vaccination for a child in their care should speak with their GP.

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