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“This is stranger to stranger transmission”: Aus authorities concerned about ‘fleeting’ Indian covid-19 variant

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Australia’s second-largest state, Victoria remains in lockdown today as authorities express concern about how easily the Indian COVID-19 strain is transmitting from ‘fleeting’ encounters.

Authorities have raised alarms to this particular Melbourne outbreak, as the Indian variant of COVID is proving to transmit between complete strangers with little contact. Examples include brushing past each other in a small shop, and walking past each other in display home.

This has sparked a surge in exposure sites, alerted across the south-eastern state in Australia.

“We think it is a feature of the Indian variant which is that much more contagious,” Deputy Secretary at Department for Health and Human Services, Jeroen Weimar said.

“This is stranger to stranger transmission.”

Weimar said they have seen transmission in these places with very fleeting contact.

“They are all examples of transmission with very limited contact. With previous variants, we are more used to transmission occurring in the home, in the workplace, where people know each other already, not at all of those big social settings. These are quite different.”

The stay-at-home orders are supposed to be part of a seven-day “snap lockdown”, but there are fears that this will be extended due to a number of new “mystery cases”.

Three new local cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Tuesday, on top of six cases announced Monday.

Of the 4,800 primary close contacts 75 per cent have returned negative test results.

‘Five-day blitz’ to help boost vaccination numbers

Private aged care residents and staff those in residential disability settings will now be given priority to get the vaccine at Victoria’s state-run walk-in vaccine hubs.

“The Commonwealth made it clear that originally, under the phase 1a/1b schedule, this was a sector that they were going to look after,” Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“A few weeks ago they asked all the states to assist in that process, and today we’re starting a significant contribution, but that will come out of Victorian state allocations of vaccine to target this very high risk group.”

Will Australia’s most populous state have its lockdown extended?

Epidemiologist Professor Mary Louise McLaws says she doesn’t believe the state will be back to normal by Friday.

She told the ABC that Victoria has “a very high, very rapid increase of cases over a short period of time,”

Despite the lockdown costing around $1 billion a week, she says “it certainly has to go for 14 days”.

Business slams government support package

Melbourne is dubbed as the world’s most liveable city, but businesses and their employees are calling for better support.

A $250 million dollar support package for struggling Melbourne businesses has been labeled as ’embarrassing by industry leaders.

Meanwhile, James Wheelan from the VHS Group says the Victorian government has acted poorly by locking down the entire state.

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Global Politics

“I did what I came to do”: Everything you need to know from Biden-Putin summit

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It’s the talk the world was waiting for. U.S President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have completed the “first meeting of its kind” since 2018. Here’s the top 5 outcomes you need to know:

1. The US is not against Russia… but for the American people

The summit is being viewed as a milestone event for the two nations, with relations between Russia and the US at an all-time low.

Biden says his agenda is “not against Russia”, but the President is working to defend the American public and America’s democracy.

Biden says “it’s always better to meet face-to-face” and both leaders praised the talks, but it is seen as just a small step towards mending the fractured diplomatic relationship.

Bruce Wolpe, Ticker’s US political contributor and a visiting fellow at the U-S Studies Centre says the world seems “a little bit safer now”.

“If both men understand each other, the chance of making mistakes and things getting out of hand, because they don’t know what the other side is doing… has diminished,” Wolpe told Ticker NEWS.

Bruce Wolpe, Ticker’s US political contributor

2. The road to mending fractured diplomatic relations

The leaders began with discussions about nuclear arms control and agreed that they would both return ambassadors to each other’s capitals.

The Russian and American envoys were withdrawn in March following allegations that Russia meddled in the US election.

When the meeting wrapped up, both leaders praised the talks, but it is seen as just a small step towards mending the fractured diplomatic relationship.

Putin says Biden is “an experienced statesman” and believes the two leaders “spoke the same language”.

Biden says Russia does not want “another cold war”, and there is now a genuine prospect to improve relations.

“if progress can be made because russia is cooperating, that will set a good tone for the next couple of years”

3. Cyber attacks: What President Biden told Putin was ‘off-limits’

Putin says most hackers are based out of the United States, with Biden responding by saying that his country’s critical infrastructure, like water and energy, is “off-limits”.

Putin says his talks with President Biden were “quite constructive,” and that they reached an agreement on cyber security.

Lester Munson, a Senior Fellow at the National Security Institute told TickerNEWS LIVE that following recent ransomeware attacks, cyber security is one of America’s biggest threats.

Lester Munson, a Senior Fellow at the National Security institute.

However, it’s important to mention that cyber security isn’t the most critical threat and the senior fellow says Putin has another agenda.

munson on putin’s agenda as a world leader.

In the past week, Putin has described Donald Trump as an extraordinary and talented individual.

Munson says Biden has done a ‘better job’ than Trump to “be on the global stage of diplomacy”.

Munson says biden has “a leg up” on the global stage

4. The west doesn’t listen to Russia enough

Putin wanted to make it clear that Russia remains a world leader and is an important country with an economy that still matters to the United States and to the world, and that’s why President Biden arranged the meeting.

Emeritus Professor from La trobe university Joseph Camilleri who says the West doesn’t listen to Russia enough.

Camilleri says the West hears very little about putin’s agenda.

5. What does this mean for the rest of the world?

Firstly, Biden believes Russia is “being squeezed by china” and it is in Putin’s best interest to engage in a productive relationship with America.

When discussing the fate of Alexi Navalny, Putin says the Russian opposition leader “ignored the law” and denied accusations that he was poisoned by Russian officials.

Biden was also asked why he thought Russia would have any desire to cooperate with the US.

On this, Biden says Russia is in a “very difficult spot right now”, and the country is trying to stay relevant and remain a major power.

The US president was also pressed by reporters who asked why he is so confident that Putin’s behaviour will change.

Wolpe says the message Biden is sending is showcasing “what the United States is all about”

“Both countries need to regard themselves as being on an equal footing,”

PROFESSOR Camilleri.

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Global Politics

China launches crewed spacecraft Shenzhou-12 in historic mission

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China has marked a major moment in space history

Launching a spacecraft carrying three astronauts, the mission is now on to complete the country’s space station by the end of next year.

It will be the longest stay in low Earth orbit by any Chinese national.

As part of its plans to have a fully crewed space station by December 2022, China successfully launched the first core module earlier this year.

There is no official announcement yet on when the other sections of the space station will launch, but the module is expected to operate for at least 10 years.

Chinese astronauts have long been excluded from the international space station, due to US political objections and legal restrictions.

The three-month stay for the three men will be the longest for any Chinese astronauts, and one focus will be seeing how they handle their relatively long time in orbit.

During their sojourn on the cylinder-like Tianhe, slightly bigger than a bus, the three men will test the module’s technologies, including its life-support system.

The Tianhe, which means “Harmony of the Heavens”, is a cylinder 16.6 metres long and 4.2 metres in diameter.

The men will also be monitored for how they fare in space physically and psychologically for an extended period of time.

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Global Politics

Hong Kong police raid pro-democracy newspaper

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Hong Kong police storm the Apple Daily headquarters.

Hong Kong police have raided a pro-democracy newspaper.

200 police carried out a search warrant and 200 entered the Apple Daily headquarters. Police arrested the chief executive, the editor and three other senior executives.

The government says police arrested four men and one woman aged between 47 and 63 for “suspected contravention”, of the nation’s security law.

Police made the arrests on suspicion of collusion with a “foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”.

200 Hong Kong police officers arrested five senior executives. Image: Apple Daily.

Meanwhile, this is the second time that police have searched the building. The company’s founder Jimmy Lai, was recently arrested for national security violations. Mr Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence.

The raid follows arrests made at the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre last month.

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