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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.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Are U.S. voters rebuking Joe Biden over his Israel policy?

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The Israel-Hamas War is entering a sixth month.

During a recent trip in New York, President Joe Biden was asked when a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas might start.

He said he hopes a pause in hostilities can take effect in the coming days to allow for remaining hostages to be released.

Jonathan Tobin, the editor-in-chief of Jewish News Syndicate joins Veronica Dudo. #IN AMERICA TODAY #featured #IsraelHamas #war #Israel #Hamas #ceasefire

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Putin threatens West with nuclear strike

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a direct threat to employ nuclear weapons against the West, accusing NATO and the United States of preparing to strike Russia.

Putin delivered this ominous warning during his annual address to the nation, raising global tensions to unprecedented levels.

During his speech, Putin accused NATO and the US of deceptive maneuvers, alleging their intentions to launch an attack on Russian territory.

He emphasised Russia’s readiness to defend itself, boasting of its modernized nuclear arsenal and asserting the capability to defeat any potential aggressors on their own soil.

The Russian leader’s words carried a chilling reminder of the destructive power at his disposal, stating, “They have to understand that we also have weapons, weapons that can defeat them on their own territory.”

Such rhetoric underscores the grave risk of escalating conflict and the potential catastrophic consequences of nuclear warfare.

Nuclear war

Putin warned that the deployment of troops to Ukraine by NATO countries could lead to a real risk of nuclear war.

He emphasised Russia’s determination to strengthen its military presence in response to perceived threats from neighboring nations aligning with Western alliances.

In addition to military concerns, Putin criticized Western efforts to engage Russia in an arms race, vowing to bolster Russia’s defense capabilities while accusing the West of attempting to weaken the country economically and politically.

Despite escalating tensions and global condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Putin sought to rally support domestically, praising Russian unity and resilience in the face of adversity.

He portrayed Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine as a defensive measure to safeguard national interests and protect Russian citizens.

Putin’s aggressive stance towards the West underscores the deepening rift between Russia and Western powers, raising fears of a potential conflict with far-reaching consequences.

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FAA gives Boeing 30 days to fix 737 MAX program

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The Federal Aviation Administration has issued Boeing a 90-day deadline to devise a comprehensive plan for enhancing quality control procedures after a recent incident involving a 737 Max aircraft.

Less than two months following an alarming occurrence where a door plug blew out of a 737 Max aircraft just nine minutes into an Alaska Airlines flight, the FAA has demanded Boeing to present a thorough strategy to address quality control deficiencies.

The incident, which took place on Flight 1282, revealed that essential bolts required to secure an unused door panel on the nearly new aircraft were missing, according to a preliminary investigation conducted earlier this month.

The door plug had been removed and reinstalled at Boeing’s Renton, Washington, factory where the 737 Max is manufactured.

This incident adds to a string of production issues plaguing Boeing’s flagship aircraft.

Action plan

In response to the FAA’s directive, Boeing affirmed its commitment to developing a comprehensive action plan with measurable benchmarks.

The aerospace giant assured that its leadership is fully dedicated to meeting this challenge head-on.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker emphasized the need for Boeing to implement substantial and enduring improvements, emphasizing that foundational changes will necessitate ongoing commitment from the company’s leadership.

The FAA intends to hold Boeing accountable at every stage of the process, ensuring that mutually agreed milestones and expectations are met.

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