Thursday, January 06, 2022

Most Australians will recover from Covid at HOME

The majority of Australians infected with Covid-19 should be able to cope with the virus well at home, according to infectious diseases expert Robert Booy.

'Most people can manage at home, and can manage well,' Sydney based Professor Booy told Sunrise on Wednesday.

'They will not get severe symptoms. They will get a cough, fever, lethargy and fatigue, and they will get better over a few days to a week.

'All you need is adequate hydration, water, bed rest, if you have analgesics for pain, and antipyretics for fever.'

Analgesics, also called painkillers, are medications that relieve different types of pain — from headaches to injuries to arthritis. Antipyretics are medications that stop or reduce fever.

Infectious disease expert Professor Robert Booy (pictured) believes the majority of Australians infected with Covid-19 should be able to cope with the virus well at home

Dr Booy added people should look out for chest pain, worsening breathlessness and lethargy as worrying symptoms that might need further medical attention.

'For people with chronic conditions or lung disease, some are given an oximeter, a special machine to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood, and you will need to go to hospital (or get medical attention) if your oxygen saturation is dropping,' he said.

Professor Booy went onto state rapid antigen tests (RATs) should be free across Australia - and he fears they may be hoarded by some.

It comes as experts slammed the Morrison Government for 'painting a rosy picture' of the new Omicron variant because it is less severe than Delta - as hospitals continue to fill around the country due to the sheer number of people infected.

Australia saw a record 47,738 new infections on Tuesday, the largest combined figure the country has seen so far during the pandemic.

Dr Stephen Parnis, an emergency physician from Melbourne, said although the new strain was less severe, the surging number of cases means a significant number of people will still be hospitalised.

'I am concerned about the government response if it paints too rosy a picture,' he told The Project.

'I don't think the New South Wales health system is strong and going strong. I think it is facing challenges that have never been seen in my lifetime. We need to be honest to keep people's confidence and trust in place.'

NSW alone has already seen hospitalisations surpass any previous point during the pandemic, however ICU cases remain well below the wave of the more severe Delta variant.

But Dr Parnis said because Omicron 'spreads like wildfire' there has been increased strain on testing clinics and community-based healthcare, rather than mounting cases in intensive care.


States keep ‘superfluous’ border Covid-19 tests

Tourism chiefs have called Covid border tests “superfluous” as health experts say swabbing non-symptomatic travellers is adding extra pressure to the already overwhelmed hospital system.

As the nation grapples with a shortage of rapid antigen tests, some jurisdictions are still demanding visitors return negative swabs before travel, despite Scott Morrison announcing the country was “moving away” from testing inbound travellers.

Visitors to Queensland and Tasmania still require a negative rapid antigen test days before travel.

After a national cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the Prime Minister flagged Tasmania would change policy “in the next week or so” but Queensland was firm on hitting 90 per cent double-vaccination target before dropping the rapid test requirement.

As of Wednesday, Queensland’s vaccination coverage was 87.03 per cent compared with 85.36 per cent a fortnight ago.

The state’s battered tourism industry says there needs to be standardised testing rules across the country given Covid-19 transmission was widespread. “Now that the virus is spreading significantly and quite quickly, rapid antigen tests for arrivals seems a somewhat superfluous and unnecessary requirement,” said Daniel Gschwind, CEO of Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

“It is not helpful for the confidence of travellers, rules have changed so much over past few weeks, it has been very confusing for everyone so a simple and nationally consistent approach would be a lot easier for people to follow.

“Rules are only useful if people can follow them.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said six private testing clinics would reopen this week to ease pressure on the system and rapid antigen tests would be available for close contacts at major public testing sites from Thursday.

One of Australia’s leading Covid-19 experts said interstate testing was “redundant” now Covid-19 was spreading across Australia and the requirement was adding unnecessary strain to the stretched healthcare system.

Dr Paul Griffin, commissioned by the Queensland government to investigate hotel quarantine and hospital outbreaks of Covid-19 last year, said testing domestic travellers was not adding any benefit to the pandemic response.

“Testing people before they come here is now redundant given we have sustained local transmission,” he said.

“We need to be reviewing all elements of our response and remove things that have been rendered futile because they just distract from the key messages which are stay home if you are sick and get your booster shot.

Now the Covid-19 risk profile was similar across Australia, aside from WA, there needed to be nationally consistent testing rules, Dr Griffin said.

“We need unity, consistency and clarity now that we are in a ­different phase of the pandemic. We need people to be on board and for them to know what is expected of them.

“Testing well travellers provides an insignificant reduction in risk at a relatively high cost in the context of supply constraints, in my opinion.”

Brisbane-based federal LNP MP Julian Simmonds said the escalation of cases throughout the country meant any unnecessary testing required to cross borders would put strain on an already overwhelmed system.

“In this new phase, all testing needs to be only for those with symptoms or those who satisfy the very specific close contact definition,” Mr Simmonds said.

“By the Queensland Premier requiring perfectly healthy people with no symptoms to get a test simply to cross a state border, all she is doing is further clogging our health system and taking a test away from someone who needs it.”

Australia’s Deputy Attorney-General, Senator Amanda Stoker, said: “At a time when other states have scrapped the RAT requirements, and Queensland doesn’t appear to be thoroughly checking RATs, there is little purpose in continuing the requirements.”


Albo abandons tax slug for rich

Anthony Albanese has dropped his longtime support for the ­Buffett rule, which would increase taxes for high-income earners by $2.5bn a year.

The Opposition Leader has ruled out implementing a minimum rate of tax for the highest-income earners if he becomes prime minister, despite leading the charge for the reform within Labor under Bill Shorten’s leadership.

Mr Shorten and then Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen were among Right faction figures who opposed Mr Albanese’s proposal.

Mr Bowen also had to shut down the proposal before the 2019 election when it was publicly backed by Labor Left frontbenchers Andrew Giles and Terri Butler.

Consideration of the Buffett rule was also supported in the last term of parliament by ALP president Wayne Swan and former left-wing union leader Tim Ayres, who is now a Labor senator and close ally of Mr Albanese.

At the ALP’s 2015 national conference, Mr Albanese sponsored an amendment urging the next Labor government to consider implementing the policy, which he said he supported.

“This proposal is the creation of a minimum tax rate levied on the total income of high-income earners,” Mr Albanese said at the national conference. “If adopted, wealthy Australians would continue to spend fortunes on accountants.

“But once they reached a certain rate – 35 per cent is what was proposed in the United States – no further deductions could be claimed.

“The National Centre for ­Social and Economic Modelling has research that showed that just for the top 1 per cent of income earners, this could produce $2.5bn revenue each and every year.”

The modelling Mr Albanese referenced applied a minimum 35 per cent tax rate to people who earn more than $300,000 a year, limiting their ability to apply for deductions including from negatively geared properties and charity donations.

Mr Albanese, who has criticised Mr Shorten’s class war language ahead of the last election, told the 2015 conference the proposal would “mobilise” working people. He referenced “unacceptable” Australian Taxation Office data showing 75 millionaires paid a total of $82 tax on a combined ­income of $195m.

“The nurses, the teachers, the miners, the construction workers -they shouldn’t be paying all the tax while the millionaires simply are able to minimise theirs,” he said.

When asked on Wednesday if he was would implement the ­policy if Labor won the election, Mr Albanese said: “no”. “The increasingly desperate and pathetic comments of Josh Frydenberg say more about his competition with Peter Dutton than anything about Labor,” he said.

The Treasurer said it was “time Anthony Albanese comes clean about his plan for higher taxes on hard working Australians”.

“He has previously joined with the Greens and GetUp to be the lead public advocate for the so called ‘Buffett Rule’; a proposal which will, on his own quoted numbers, be a $25bn hit (over a decade) on Australian taxpayers,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“Now on the eve of the election he wants to distance himself from it. How can Australians trust him? He can’t hide forever behind his small target strategy.”

Mr Frydenberg said Mr Albanese had previously been critical of other tax policies Labor now embraced, including the government’s income tax cut package, negative gearing for investment property and cash refunds for franking credits.


Fortescue buys battery-powered trains as green shift for miners heats up

Billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group has purchased two battery-powered trains to carry iron ore to the port in the latest sign of the resources industry’s push for cleaner ways to fuel Australia’s hugely carbon-intensive mining operations.

Amid intensifying pressure from shareholders and wider society to do more to combat climate change, companies across the industry such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue have earmarked billions of dollars in the past two years to clean up their difficult-to-decarbonise remote mining operations by shifting away from fossil fuels such as diesel and gas.

Mining companies have been under rising pressure to improve their carbon credentials
Mining companies have been under rising pressure to improve their carbon credentialsCREDIT:TONY MCDONOUGH

The new eight-axle locomotives with an energy capacity of 14.5 megawatt-hours would be manufactured in Sete Lagoas, Brazil, the company said.

“The new locomotives will cut our emissions while also reducing our fuel costs and our overall operational expense through lower maintenance spend,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said.

Across Australia and around the world, the mining industry accounts for a huge share of planet-heating greenhouse gases, both from mining operations themselves and the emissions generated by the end use of the mined resources after they are sold to be burned or processed in factories and power plants.

Mining companies have been under mounting pressure to improve their carbon credentials, with powerful investors seeking to reduce their exposure to the ethical and financial risks posed by rising greenhouse gas emissions and increasingly demanding businesses to do more to help achieve the Paris Agreement’s targets for averting catastrophic global warming.




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