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News and Reviews

Covid kids cases growing fastest; Xmas in doubt

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QR codes, masks and tests please

Covid kids cases growing fastest; Xmas in doubt

Covid cases in young children have grown five times faster than over 60s (131% vs 23%­) the past two months, raising doubts Australia can reopen before Christmas with only 80 per cent of adults vaccinated.

Provocate’s upcoming VaxEnomicTM Forecaster for business shows children and teens (0-19; 5,554) also accounted for more new cases nationally than over 40s combined (40-95+; 5,510) since National Cabinet decided to start reopening domestic and international borders at 70% and 80% of adults fully vaccinated.

Provocate Managing Director Troy Bilsborough said the politics of sick children meant business should be cautious banking on a December Quarter reopening, even if adult vaccination targets were met.

Mr Bilsborough – a former senior adviser to the Federal Health & Aged Care Minister (2014-2017) – said reopening would ultimately rely on the Federal Government having to mount a “chicken pox defence – better to catch it young than old” – a difficult task with a Federal Election looming between now and May.

Mr Bilsborough recommended National Cabinet agree a hard date, such as 80 per cent of first adult doses, to reassess current targets and avoid any last-minute political capitulations and Christmas cancellations.

“Australia’s major capital cities have been in a state of rolling lock downs since the Federal Budget was handed down in May at a cost of over $2 billion per week to the economy,” Mr Bilsborough said.

“It’s therefore logical that both the national budget – and those of business – cannot afford to remain closed during the December Quarter, which is likely to decide whether Australia re-enters recession.

“However, children’s covid cases have also grown 131% – faster than any other age group – in the two months since.

“Current National Cabinet plans for reopening at 80 per cent assume the economic risk of keeping international borders and businesses closed is greater than children catching – and dying – from Covid.

“Fully vaccinating 70% and 80% of adults also only equals 56% and 64% of the whole population, leaving four million children at increased exposure to Covid without the same vaccine protections.

“As logical as low child Covid death rates may be, business must account for the fact no Federal Government wants to enter an election being accused of creating a generation of Covid kids.

“Ultimately electionomics, not epidemiologists and economists, will end up deciding whether Australia reopens state and international borders before Christmas without children vaccinated.”

Overall, young people under 19 made up one-third of the 17,780 new Covid cases between 29 June 2021 and 28 August 2021 – when the Delta strain started taking hold in Sydney – seeing national cases increase from 30,562 to 48,342 (55%).

The number of children’s cases increased from 1700 to 3933 (0-9; 131% increase) and 2500 to 5520 (10-19; 121% increase) to the fourth and five highest number of cases by age group respectively. The highest number of cases remains in young people aged 20-29 (10,603, 58% increase), 30-39 (8452, 54% increase) and 40-49 (5946, 52% increase).
Sources: Provocate analysis of Federal Dept of Health data.

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News and Reviews

PILOT PLAN TO RETURN INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

PILOT PLAN TO RETURN INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

A pilot plan that will see the phased return of fully vaccinated international students to NSW has been given the green light by the Commonwealth Government, with the first flight touching down by the end of this year.

Accommodation provider Scape has been confirmed to house the returning students for a 14-day quarantine in Redfern, at a building retrofitted to accommodate up to 650 students to COVIDSafe standards approved by NSW Health and NSW Police.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade John Barilaro said the staggered return of students was stage one of a pilot that would slowly expand and evolve, as vaccination rates continue to rise in NSW and internationally.

“The international education sector sustains thousands of jobs across NSW, and I’m proud that NSW is leading the way with the return of international students to our shores,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The safety of the people of NSW is paramount and we are taking no risks. All participating students will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised COVID-19 vaccine, and strict quarantine protocols will be in place.

“Importantly, this plan will not come at the expense of any Australian citizen or resident wishing to return home.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the program was vital to the State’s economic recovery, creating jobs and restoring growth.

“International education plays an important role in connecting NSW to the world,” Mr Perrottet said. “As we implement a range of efforts to reboot our economy, rebuilding the sector – which was worth $14.6 billion to NSW in 2019 – is a key part of our efforts.”

Education partners including Australian Catholic University, Macquarie University, The University of Newcastle, The University of Sydney, UNSW, UTS, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University, plus independent providers the International College of Management Sydney, Kaplan, Navitas, RedHill and Study Group, have signed up to the industry-funded pilot plan.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said NSW was the top destination in Australia for international students.

“More than 57,000 students are currently overseas, with many desperate to return, resume their studies, part-time jobs, connect with friends and continue their journey in our world-leading institutions,” Mr Ayres said.

The first phase of the pilot plan is anticipated to bring back 500 international students to NSW on chartered flights, paid for by the students, by the end of the year.

Scape CEO Anouk Darling said the company was proud to be involved in the pilot.

“Our Scape team are proud to partner with the NSW Government and our world class education sector, here in NSW, to welcome our returning international students into our most advanced and COVID-safe student accommodation facility at Scape Redfern,” Ms Darling said.

The announcement was welcomed by the higher education sector with Professor Barney Glover AO, Governor of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee thanking the NSW Government.

“After over 18 months of planning, we are delighted that both the Australian and NSW Government are supportive of a pilot plan for an incremental reopening of our borders to our international students,” Mr Glover said.

Council of International Students Australia President, Belle Lim, welcomed the detailed planning and collaborative approach.

“We all want international students back on campus, enjoying the unique learning, work and life experience that only studying in Australia can deliver. We support the cautious approach and look forward to growing the number of students returning to NSW over time,” Ms Lim said.

CEO of Independent Higher Education Australia Simon Finn said the private higher education sector welcomes the pilot’s launch and commends the NSW Government’s unwavering focus on community safety, international student welfare and rebuilding the state economy.

“By working with the Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA) on this pilot from the beginning, the NSW Government has demonstrated its commitment to supporting both the private and public education sector,” Mr Finn said.

Participating education providers will contact students to progress an expression of interest for the pilot plan.

Vision of international students can be found here.

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Warning issued ahead of planned unauthorised protest activity

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Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

Warning issued ahead of planned unauthorised protest activity

Police are warning would-be protesters to stay at home this weekend, with a significant police operation to be launched in response to planned unauthorised protest activity.

Preparations are underway for a highly visible and mobile police operation to disrupt any protests and prevent mass gatherings across the state.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott warned anyone thinking of protesting this weekend to stay at home, and not come into the city.

“There is no doubt that these protests are a risk to public health – for the community, for police as well as for the individual health of the protesters themselves,” Mr Elliott said.

“We’ve seen past protesters end up contracting COVID-19, so anyone who is still considering protesting needs take a good hard look at themselves.”

Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon, Metropolitan Field Operations, said the operation would mirror previous operations, which had been extremely successful in preventing and disrupting protest activity.

“We are continuing to monitor online commentary ahead of tomorrow and have put in place an extremely mobile police operation with significant resources, to respond to whatever situation we are faced with.

“I have said before and I will say it again – we take the health and safety of the community extremely seriously.

“I would again appeal to the community to do your part to protect your loved ones and the wider community by staying at home, unless you are complying with the requirements of the public health order.

“Engaging in an unauthorised protest does not comply with the public health order and anyone choosing to attend or participate for that purpose should expect to be met by the police and face penalties ranging from a fine to being arrested.”

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

Council facilities will begin to reopen from Saturday after the NSW Government today announced a lifting of the lockdown for parts of regional NSW, including the Tweed local government area.

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Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry

Council facilities will begin to reopen from Saturday after the NSW Government today announced a lifting of the lockdown for parts of regional NSW, including the Tweed local government area.

Stay at home orders will be lifted from midnight tomorrow, Friday 10 September, but the region will continue to operate under tight restrictions to ensure the safety of regional communities.

These restrictions include limiting the number of visitors to the home to 5 people (not including children 12 and under) and up to 20 people at outdoor settings.

Masks will still be required for all indoor public venues, while capacity will be limited at hospitality, retail outlets and gyms to maintain the one person per 4 sqm rule, with specific customer limitations for each industry.

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry welcomed the announcement by the NSW Government, saying it was now time for the Queensland Government to follow suit and reinstate a border bubble.

“Today’s announcement is a great win for all the businesses and families out there who have shared their stories of how hard the lockdown has been here in the Tweed – this is your win,” Cr Cherry said.

“It is now time for us to reopen our businesses, for our children to return to school and to celebrate that some of us can now spend time with family.

“But let’s not forget all of those among us that still can’t get to work or see their families because of the great divide that continues to split our community in half at Tweed Heads and Coolangatta.

“I call on the Queensland Government to lift those restrictions and reinstate a border bubble so we can all get back to work and sit down together again as families.”

As a result of the easing of restrictions, Council will open most of its customer-facing facilities in coming days. However, some services remain impacted by staffing shortages as a result of the border closure. Services opening include:

Stotts Creek Resource Recovery Centre (tip) returns to normal operations for domestic and commercial operations from Saturday 11 September. Tweed JUNKtion Tip Shop remains closed with a reopening date to be confirmed next week.

Tweed Holiday Parks return to normal operations from Saturday 11 September with COVID-Safe restrictions

Customer Service Counters at Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads reopen from Monday 13 September

Library branches at Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads and Kingscliff return to normal opening hours from Monday 13 September

Brett Street CAFE at Tweed Heads returns to normal operating hours from Monday 13 September

Starting Block Café at TRAC Murwillumbah open for takeaway meals from Monday 13 September

Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre at Murwillumbah, Kingscliff and South Tweed to reopen from Monday 13 September on restricted hours

Tweed Regional Museum will return to normal operating hours from Tuesday 14 September

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre will reopen from Wednesday 15 September

Community centres at Banora Point and South Tweed, South Sea Islander Room, Harvard Room, Kingscliff Hall, Canvas and Kettle reopening from Wednesday 15 September

Council-approved community markets, including at Kingscliff, SALT Village, Pottsville, Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads may reopen with COVID-safe plans in place.

The next Council meeting on Thursday 16 September will return to normal operations and will be held in the Harvard Room at Tweed Heads Administration Office. Anyone wishing to attend in person must pre-book their seats due to capacity restrictions. The meeting will also be livestreamed. Details on how to book or join the livestream are available on Council’s website.

Essential services including water and kerbside waste collection services continue to operate as normal.

For any queries, the community is encouraged to call our Contact Centre Team on 02 6670 2400, chat to us online or email us on tsc@tweed.nsw.gov.au. Any issues can be reported online via our Report a Problem webpage or direct message us on Facebook.

Keep up to date with closures and service impacts on Council’s COVID-19 Emergency Dashboard.

For the latest on regional and rural restrictions, including stay-at-home rules, visit the NSW Government website at nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/affected-regions.

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