Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Queensland scraps day-five testing for visitors

Queensland has scrapped day five COVID-19 tests for interstate travellers as cases spike.

Six cases were in hospital for COVID-19-related symptoms and 83 others were in hospital for other illnesses.

There were no people in the intensive care unit, while 976 patients were currently receiving care at home.

The percentage of Queensland’s population who had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination was 90.49, while 86.14 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Ms D’Ath also announced the scrapping of the day-five testing requirements, following scrutiny over long waiting times of up to three hours.

“Based on the data we have, I welcome the advice of the Chief Health Officer [John Gerrard] that we can move away from that test,” she said.

“The Chief Health Officer has advised us that the data that we have received just in the last 24 hours can show that we are seeing only about 0.6 per cent positive cases coming from those day-five tests.”

Dr Gerrard said those rates were extremely low.

“I have given a very strong recommendation to the Premier that I believe that performing the day-five test is unnecessary and that these resources are better used elsewhere to test people with symptoms and for other reasons to require testing,” Dr Gerrard said.

Interstate travellers were still required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result within the 72 hours before entering Queensland.

Dr Gerrard said despite the large number of cases, there were few patients with COVID-19-related symptoms in hospital. “This indicates that the vaccines are working,” he said.

Dr Gerrard urged people to stay home while waiting for their COVID-19 test result. “We have noticed that when people get this report some of them are going straight to the emergency department, even if they are quite well,” he said.

“This is causing a little bit of a problem in some of our emergency departments, and it’s not necessary. “Please go to the emergency department only if you have significant symptoms like breathlessness or chest pain.


Queensland hugely popular: ‘No one anticipated 400k visitors’

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today the Government would be bolstering staff numbers at the state’s testing centres following days of long lines at clinics.

She admitted officials had never anticipated that 400,000 people would apply to enter the state when borders reopened earlier this month.

Interstate travellers also must have evidence of a negative CPR test 72 hours before entering Queensland – but Ms Palaszczuk again today signalled that could also change to a rapid antigen test, with a decision to be made by January 1.

Meanwhile, the Premier announced bookings for children aged 5 to 11 to get their vaccine would open from December 27 ahead of school resuming after the summer holidays. Children won’t be able to get the vaccine though until January 10.

“We’ve seen an excellent uptake in vaccination from children aged 12 to 15 and we expect a similar positive response from parents of younger kids,” Ms Palaszczuk said. Children will receive two doses, administered eight weeks apart.

Earlier, Queensland has recorded 784 new cases of Covid-19, with the State Government now opening bookings for under-12s to get a coronavirus vaccine.

There are four people in hospital, with one – an 85-year-old man – described as moderately to severely unwell. He is not in intensive care.

Ms Palaszczuk said the health system was coping well with Omicron outbreaks, but that the government would monitor the situation carefully. A total of 72 health and hospital staff have now tested positive to Covid-19, with 350 in quarantine.


How China’s trade war with Australia backfired

Economic sanctions of any kind rarely have much success

Australia hasn’t broken. Eighteen months after Beijing launched its trade war against Canberra, its economic impact was negligible. And the world’s resolve has only hardened.

“I think China’s preference would have been to break Australia. To drive Australia to its knees,” US National Security Council Indo-Pacific affairs advisor Kurt Campbell said earlier this month. “I don’t believe that’s going to be the way it’s going to play out.”

It already hasn’t.

“The bottom line: Beijing’s attempt to bully Canberra has been a spectacular failure,” says USAsia Centre research director Jeffrey Wilson.

And because of Australia’s example, Beijing faces a growing backlash in 2022.

“If this is what decoupling from China looks like, Australia’s resilience suggests the costs are far lower than many have assumed,” added Dr Wilson. “That fact will not be lost on other countries that have differences with China.”

The attempt at economic coercion began in April 2020. Beijing was incensed that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had made a public call for a wide-ranging investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan. It risked damaging the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) reputation.

So it attempted to silence him. And set an example of what happens to nations that contradict the CCP. Australia’s $150 billion export market with China was its weakest link. So it was hit with a trade war.

Barley. Beef. Coal. Copper. Cotton. Gas. Lobster. Sugar. Timber. Wheat. Wine. Wool. All were suddenly subject to various tariff, dumping, hygiene and quality challenges. In essence, China stopped buying them.

But Beijing’s seemingly reflexive wolfish aggression triggered an unanticipated response. Former Australian diplomat Philip Eliason says it triggered a “sacred values” response. That’s why Australia was so willing to dig in its heels, regardless of the cost.

And that cost has turned out to be unexpectedly small.

Concern about the economic cost of standing up for such principles is declining. As one market closes its doors, others tend to open elsewhere on the international stage.

Australian Treasury estimates put the cost of Beijing’s sanctions at some $5.4 billion. But at least $4.4 billion of that was recovered through finding new markets.

For example, China switched its coal purchase to Russia and Indonesia. That left their previous buyers out in the cold. So, the likes of South Korea and Japan simply turned to Australia.

“(This led) Australian coal producers’ export earnings to rise this year — not exactly the effect China had in mind,” Dr Wilson concluded. “While the adjustment process is not pain-free, it is far less costly — and less of a deterrent to political action — than most assume.”

And the value of Australia’s exports to China grew – thanks to surging iron ore prices – over the past year. It’s not in Beijing’s interests to interrupt the flow of that strategically vital resource.

“Australia’s experience offers an important lesson: Trade decoupling does not automatically mean trade destruction,” said Dr Wilson. “Indeed, Australia’s resilience may now be inspiring others to take a stand.”


Aussie wine icon Penfolds’ genius move amid brutal trade war with China

The relationship between Canberra and Beijing first began to sour in 2016, resulting in a diplomatic freeze – but things stepped up a notch last year, when around a dozen Australian goods exports were slapped with tariffs.

Coal, barley, beef, timber, lobster and wine have been among the casualties, and earlier this month, we learnt just how crushing the spat has been.

According to an eye-opening report from the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI) in early December, Australia’s exports across 12 key commodities impacted by Beijing’s sanctions plummeted by a staggering $17.3 billion in the first nine months of 2021, compared with 2019.

Professor James Laurenceson, the director of ACRI at UTS, told news.com.au many Australian brands and livelihoods had been devastated by the ongoing trade war.

“When you start looking to the longer term, a lot of the cost will depend on whether the Chinese market continues to outperform alternate markets as it has done for the past 20 years – for example, research shows that for the past 15 years, China has added 60 million people to the middle class every year, and that far exceeds anywhere else – India is nowhere near that,” he said.

“So when we’re locked out of the Chinese market, diversification is all well and good, but all we can try and do is sell to smaller, slower-growing markets, and that comes at a cost.

“In 2017 an Australian government foreign policy white paper forecasted that China’s economy would add more new purchasing power than the US, Japan, India and Indonesia combined, and if that’s true, it does suggest the cost from being locked out and having that disruption to the Chinese market is going to rise over time.”

Aussie icon’s ‘clever’ move

Prof Laurenceson said the impact on some commodities such as coal and barley were less severe as sales were simply able to be diverted elsewhere.

But other industries like wine were beginning to “really struggle” – although he said some Australian brands, such as the iconic Penfolds, had taken some “really clever” steps to stay in the game.

“Penfolds is a flagship Australian wine brand, and guess what they are doing? They are still selling in China, and they are sourcing product in California rather than the Barossa Valley,” he said.

“So it’s an Australian brand going into China, but the product is not actually Australian – California grape growers are benefiting from that trade now, and we will see more and more Australian companies do things like that – and good for them, they are keeping the brand afloat, but it comes at a price to the Australian economy.

Meanwhile, Prof Laurenceson said it was a similar story with the rock lobster industry, which was locked out of China last November.

While the industry feared a looming disaster at the time, fishers simply started selling to Hong Kong instead, with the lobsters then smuggled into China via a so-called “grey route”, which meant that “sales have hardly been affected” by the sanctions.

Prof Laurenceson said sadly, he didn’t believe the trade war would be resolved any time soon.

“I see no reason for China to suddenly turn around and change tack – Kurt Campbell, Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific tsar, said in a speech to the Lowy Institute recently that he expects in time China will re-engage with Australia, ‘on Australia’s terms’, but why would China choose to re-engage on Australian terms?” he said.

“If anything, this deadlock would end with a mutual agreement, but this idea China would come with its cap in its hand begging to have us back is utterly ridiculous to me.

“The prospect of Beijing doing a 180 degree turn is almost zero.”

Prof Laurenceson said while many nations currently had issues with China, Australia was unique in the sheer range of sanctions it faced.

“New Zealand, Korea, Japan – what really sets them apart is … the way they manage diplomacy with more caution,” he said.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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