New South Wales has recorded a 47th straight day without a locally acquired Covid-19 case, but 12 people who acquired the virus overseas are in hotel quarantine.
The increase in overseas acquired cases is significant. There have only been 36 cases recorded in the past week, so to record 12 in a day is quite the leap.
The Human Rights Law Centre has released a statement about the rape allegations against Christian Porter.
Simon Birmingham has made clear Italy’s decision to withhold a vaccine shipment will not mean the Australian government is caught with its pants down (I think that’s what he’s saying).
The finance minister told Sky News on Friday:
We are obviously disappointed and frustrated by this decision, but it is also why we took a belt and braces approach.
We’ve contracted up to 150 million doses of vaccines, including 50 million doses to be produced in Australia.
The world is in quite uncharted territory at present, it’s unsurprising that some countries will tear up the rule book.
Here is the full story from AAP about the appeal in the Johnson & Johnson pelvic mesh case being dismissed:
More than 10,000 women are due to share in hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation after Johnson & Johnson failed to overturn a landmark ruling finding it concealed the true extent of complications of damaging medical devices.
A federal court judge in 2019 found Johnson & Johnson Group firms acted negligently and concealed the true extent of complications from the pelvic implants.
Hundreds of the synthetic implants eroded, extruded or caused infection without warning – leaving women in chronic pain and with damage to surrounding organs.
But Johnson & Johnson appealed against the judgment, saying it had numerous legal errors, including a reversal of the onus of proof.
The full court of the federal court dismissed the appeal on Friday.
Justice Anna Katzmann in 2019 found the “Instructions for Use” handed to surgeons minimised harm and exaggerated the benefits of the devices.
Her judgment ran to 1,500 pages after an eight-month trial examining three patients’ experiences, 48 witnesses and more than 164,000 pages of written evidence.
But Johnson & Johnson said the court failed to hear from the three patients’ surgeons.
The information brochures about the pelvic implants weren’t the be-all-and-end-all of warnings and a finding that product brochures were deficient – leading surgeons astray – was also wrong, a lawyer for the manufacturers told the appeal court.
The class action over the implants was launched by Shine Lawyers in 2012 and has been joined by more than 10,000 Australian women.
Shine Lawyers’ class actions practice leader Rebecca Jancauskas said before the appeal was dismissed:
It has been a long journey to get to this point in a case which has been vigorously defended by Johnson & Johnson at every turn.
We have fought hard to ensure the voices of these incredibly brave women are heard, as they’ve struggled with the chronic pain and life-altering complications from their mesh and tape implants.
Before the judgment, the three lead litigants were awarded a total of $2.6m in damages, paving the way for full payout in the hundreds of millions.
I’m not sure if we got to this thread from Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton in last night’s blog, but in light of all the Oxford/AstraZeneca news around since, I think it’s worth posting.
Basically he said that he hoped to get that version of the vaccine, to counteract perceptions it was less effective than the Pfizer vaccine. These comments were posted before the Italy developments.
An appeal against a court ruling in the pelvic mesh case has failed, AAP is reporting.
Johnson & Johnson hoped to overturn a 2019 federal court decision that found they were responsible for the injuries caused by women who received mesh implants.
If you are interested in the situation in New Zealand, where residents on the North Island have been urged to evacuate because of a tsunami warning, our live blog coverage is here:
There has been quite a lot on this week. But it is worth taking some time to chew over the state of Australia’s aged care system. We did just that in this episode of the Full Story here:
The chief executive of the Sydney Mardi Gras insists his organisation remains centred on social justice but won’t support a protest planned for Saturday, saying safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic remains paramount.
AAP reports that protesters planning the LGBTQI rights march on Saturday afternoon to mark Mardi Gras will soon learn if their gathering will be declared illegal.
The New South Wales supreme court will on Friday consider a bid by the state police commissioner to stop this weekend’s gathering in inner Sydney.
The march is due to take place ahead of the official Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, moved to the Sydney Cricket Ground due to Covid-19.
NSW police assistant commissioner Gelina Talbot told reporters on Friday the protest was unauthorised as it would exceed the maximum number of people allowed at political gatherings under health rules.
The current limit on political gatherings is 500. More than 1,100 people have already RSVPed to attend the march, with another 3200 interested.
But Talbot said the police would accept Friday’s court outcome.
Mardi Gras chief executive Albert Kruger told reporters that his organisation remained a social justice organisation at its core but could not condone protests in violation of NSW’s public health orders.
About 10,000 people are expected at the Mardi Gras parade at the SCG.
We’ve given every single float a 45-second dedicated spot on our broadcast to get their message across … it’s not just about walking around in fancy costumes, it’s a social justice event.
We support protest, absolutely do, no other way to put it.
[But] we want to make sure whatever event we put on, we can safely do so and confidently say our patrons coming to this event will be safe.
Kruger also said revellers should either attend ticketed events and afterparties or host gatherings of up to 50 people at home.
Activist group Pride In Protest is among those organising the march, which plans to take the route of the original 1978 march down Oxford Street.
Organisers say the march down Oxford Street had been planned because the SCG event didn’t represent the Mardi Gras’ true purpose.
The march will go ahead regardless of the court outcome, Pride In Protest spokesman Toby Walmsley told AAP this week.
National Justice Project lawyers representing the organisers say police have no reasonable basis to ban the protest and a COVID-safe plan is in place for people to register, wear masks, sanitise and practice social distancing.
Meanwhile, Talbot said police would be out in force on Saturday across Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Moore Park to ensure reveller safety.
Revellers should also wear masks on public transport, Talbot said.
The Sydney Theatre Company has become the first live performance venue in New South Wales to move to 100% capacity audience, following an exemption granted by the state’s health minister, Brad Hazzard.
The move marks almost one year to the day since the entire live performance sector was shut down due to Covid-19.
The current season of Ruth Park’s Playing Beatie Bow, adapted by Kate Mulvany, will move into full house mode next week, while coming seasons of Appropriate and Fun Home will open at full capacity in March and April.
Additional tickets for all three productions will go on sale from Tuesday 9 March.
STC’s executive director, Patrick McIntyre, said the exemption was granted in response to the company’s “exemplary” Covid-safe policies and procedures that have been in place since it returned to the stage in September 2020 with its production of Angus Cerini’s Wonnangatta.
McIntyre said the ability to sell to full capacity was a crucial next step on the road to recovery.
Sydney is more or less the theatre capital of the world right now and we are incredibly heartened by the strong demand we are seeing from audiences.
There is some interesting Covid-19 goings-on in Queensland: a nurse with a history of severe allergic reactions took a turn after receiving the vaccine, and health authorities are trying to find eight people who may have come into contact with a “superspreader” in hotel quarantine.
AAP reports that the nurse had an anaphylactic reaction after being given the Pfizer jab at Gold Coast University Hospital on Thursday afternoon, but has since recovered.
Queensland Health is also racing to track down eight people who may have been infected with Covid-19 while staying on level eight of Brisbane’s Mercure hotel between 17 and 21 February.
Two people on that level tested positive for the Russian strain of the virus. The pair arrived on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha on 17 February, and another four passengers on the flight also tested positive.
Chief health Officer Dr Jeannette Young says a “superspreader” may have passed the virus on to others in the hotel.
She said on Thursday:
It could have happened – unlikely – but it could have happened in the hotel, because this person was in the room next to the person who was positive.
Young said authorities were tracking down those eight people but until they found them they had been asked to self-isolate for 14-days and get tested.
She said some of those people could be interstate residents and the National Incident Room has been alerted.
I just need to find out where the eight people have gone.
It’s unlikely that it’s a risk, but it is a risk, no matter how small, so I just want to work that through.
Australia’s netball team is in New Zealand at the moment, and the skipper felt this morning’s earthquake.
Australian humanitarian and environmental organisations have urged those deciding on a new head of the OECD to reject the candidacy of Mathias Cormann.
AAP reports that the organisations want the former finance minister to be judged harshly for his record on climate change.
Cormann is one of two final candidates in the international race to head the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, facing off against Sweden’s Cecilia Malmstrom.
Cormann has repeatedly come under fire for actions on climate change since announcing his candidacy.
Oxfam Australia head Lyn Morgain says the global community is facing the twin challenges of recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and tackling accelerating climate change.
She said on Friday:
The leaders of our international institutions must act in concert with nations to avoid a climate catastrophe that will further entrench poverty and inequality.
It is vital the next head of the OECD have a record that demonstrates a real commitment to taking action on climate change.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter said Cormann’s attempts to airbrush his record couldn’t change his actions in government.
Like any job applicant, Mr Cormann deserves to be judged on his record.
He has proven time and time again that he puts the profits of the coal and gas industry above people and planet.
The successful candidate will succeed current secretary general Angel Gurria for a five-year term beginning on 1 June.
Here is another voice emphasising that Italy’s decision to block a vaccine shipment to Australia will not throw our vaccination program out of whack.
But this time it’s not a federal government minister but Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Prof Allen Cheng.
He told Melbourne radio station 3AW that he wasn’t concerned (while he was waiting for a jab of his own).
We have more vaccine than our capacity to deliver it at the moment.
Cheng says the blocked shipment “just reinforces just how lucky we are to have local production” of the vaccine.
Home affairs minister Peter Dutton also says Italy’s move to block an export of vaccine to Australia will not impact the vaccination program.
Health minister Greg Hunt made similar comments earlier.
“This 250,000-dose issue is not going to affect the rollout,” Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday, AAP reported.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles welcomed the government’s confidence the program would not be affected.
“We are far from leading the world in terms of vaccinating our population, but it’s good news to hear from Peter this won’t stall the rollout,” he told Nine.
Dutton stressed there was no problem as he urged people to speak to their doctors to see when they could be vaccinated, saying:
We need to get to herd immunity that way we can get our borders open and get back to normal life.
The Australian Medical Association’s Chris Moy said the government’s decision to lock in local manufacturing would protect against “vaccine nationalism”.
“It may have a slight delay because the first 3 or 4 million were destined to come from overseas,” he told Nine.
It has now been a week since the state had a community-transmitted infection.
- Australia news live: pressure mounts for inquiry into historical rape allegation made against Christian Porter
- Australia politics live: Victoria reports two new local Covid cases
- Italy blocks export of Covid-19 vaccine doses
- Australia news live: government under fire over handling of rape allegations as voters lose trust