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Local News - Victoria

Kindness of strangers lights up Victoria’s coronavirus gloom


Patricia Callinan created the page Help 3095 and Surround with simple intentions. A new Facebook page, like many others in pandemic-era Melbourne, to preserve a sense of connection.

Patricia Callinan (centre), Bec Russell (left) and Jennifer Niehues of The Help 3095 and Surrounds Facebook group.

Patricia Callinan (centre), Bec Russell (left) and Jennifer Niehues of The Help 3095 and Surrounds Facebook group.Credit:Eddie Jim

Someone nominates a deserving recipient and an appropriate package – books, pamper products or afternoon tea – and members donate the money to a local business to package up and deliver the gift.

“It’s putting money into local businesses because they’re struggling. And it makes the essential worker feel as if they’re noticed,” Ms Callinan says.

More than 20 packages have been delivered or are being assembled since R U OK? Day on September 10, and one very special moment has brought delight to all who learn about it.

Local resident Margaret Murphy turned 87 last month and likemany Melbourne seniors, had become increasingly isolated from her community during lockdown. Ms Callinan called on the power of the group to make her day special.

“All I did was ask people to write a card, deliver it to me, and then I’d deliver them to her, but oh, my God,” she says.

Eltham resident Jess Hoyle gets a care pack from Bec Russell, Jennifer Niehues, Patricia Callinan.

Eltham resident Jess Hoyle gets a care pack from Bec Russell, Jennifer Niehues, Patricia Callinan.Credit:Eddie Jim

Ms Murphy was inundated with presents, morning teas, flowers and helium balloons. Children and adults stopped by for socially-distanced hellos and chats. A talented singer, a group member, even lured Ms Murphy into the garden and sang her happy birthday from the street.

In a thank-you note, Ms Murphy wrote: “I woke up the next morning and guess what! That feeling of dread that had been in the pit of my stomach had disappeared.”

Now, Ms Callinan’s community has set out to create 1500 personalised care packages for year 12 students in the postcode.

The group has made up 1500 care packs, each containing a handwritten letter of encouragement, for every year 12 student in the area.

The group has made up 1500 care packs, each containing a handwritten letter of encouragement, for every year 12 student in the area.Credit:Eddie Jim

“It’s a mammoth task,” says Ms Callinan, who is currently living with 480 Curly Wurly bars in her living room.

“It’s also really bringing the community together, and I just love that.”

In a personal touch, each package will come with a handwritten letter of encouragement from a local stranger, including from residents in aged care.

Students will receive snacks and other goodies, including quality pens for the stark shift from home computers to hand-written exams.

Ms Callinan is organising the delivery of pledges from as far away as Queensland.

Group members have volunteered to assemble the packs in an unused section of local cafe, Platform 3095, and deliver them to the schools before the October 7 General Achievement Test.

“They have no graduation and no formal. The GAT may well be the last time all the year 12s are at school at the same time,” Ms Callinan says.

“We want the students to know that, number one, we acknowledge what they’re going through – that it sucks – and, number two, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and life does get better.

‘You bake with love and you bake with joy’

Every Sunday in Surrey Hills, Jennifer Aldous, a nurse of 47 years and still “bounding out of bed”, pours her heart out on an outside table.

Cupcakes, soups, biscuits, lamingtons and cakes of almost any variety, a market-stall bounty of freshly-made goodness, all of it free for neighbours or passers-by.

In the second or third week of stage four lockdown, when she began Windsor Crescent’s favourite new tradition, the theme was festive – mince pies and Christmas shortbread.

On Sunday and next week, she will give out “children’s packs”, including cookie dough they can take home, roll, cut and bake themselves.

“I guess I thought, ‘What can I do just to give some joy. Just a little bit, that’s all’,” says Ms Aldous, who turns 65 tomorrow.

“I believe you bake with love and you bake with joy. If someone sees that, they know someone’s made that, someone’s taken the time.

“It’s a little bit of joy in a real shite moment.”

The table, which Ms Aldous leaves unattended out the front, has hand sanitiser and extra masks, should anyone need them.

And while she asks nothing in return, people will sometimes leave flowers, kitchen presents and recipes.

“I’ve just said to them, ‘Please don’t give me money’,” she says.

“But one person left me so much money at once. I know some families who have not been working and not Australian residents, so any money that’s left I’ve been getting … vouchers for them to buy groceries.”

Ms Aldous, who lives with her husband and daughter, says it’s no fuss – the kitchen is her “place of solitude” after long hours at working helping mothers and children.

“It’s a joy to give,” she says.

“People out there are sad. You may not have any money, so just bake them a cake.”

The masked mowers of Cape Paterson

Geoff Boer has been invading backyards for more than a month.

He’s up to 48 now, more than he promised himself, and has even started going back for seconds.

Geoff Boer and "Tom", two of the masked mowers of Cape Paterson

Geoff Boer and “Tom”, two of the masked mowers of Cape Paterson

His mate Tom and handful of others lend capable hands. But more in Cape Paterson, which is about eight kilometres south of Wonthaggi, are at it too – he’s seen their work.

“The first thing to say is there’s no organisation,” Mr Boer says.

“But you can see the evidence. Houses that are vacant are suddenly mowed.”

If you have a property in the coastal hamlet and stuck in stage four Melbourne, just hope the masked mowers have stopped by your place, too.

Mr Boer, a 65-year-old part-time accountant, walks his mower up to four hours a day taming wild Cape Paterson nature strips. If the gate has been left open, as they most often are, he’ll also do the front and back yards.

He says the challenge in any foreign yard is navigating the hidden roots and rocks.

“Sometimes you get a bit of a surprise,” he says. “I just bought another two sets of blades and a new air filter.”

The beauty of Mr Boer’s kind gesture is that its recipients won’t even know about it for weeks or even months.

“I would say half [Cape Paterson houses] are occupied and half are holiday homes,” he says.

“These people are stuck somewhere. This is just something I can do. It’s not all that significant, but it makes a bit of a difference.”

Open water swimming, only when you can’t

Open water swimmers landlocked by restrictions on travel have found their next best fix: Pay a mate to swim it for you.

It’s the initiative of the Bay Open Water Swimmers, a group with 300 active members in normal times, but reduced by more than a third in Melbourne’s five kilometre ring of stage-four steel.

Charlie Evans (left) and Peter Hendriks at Half Moon Beach, Black Rock.

Charlie Evans (left) and Peter Hendriks at Half Moon Beach, Black Rock.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

While it doesn’t come with the spring and winter rush of an icy Port Phillip Bay, #swimforamate is helping strangers instead.

Peter Hendriks, a veteran open water swimmer and coach, says the group passed $3000 – all of it going to Lifeline – on Wednesday.

“With people struggling in these times, it seemed the most logical charity,” he says. “And I guess we’ll just keep it going until restrictions are lifted.”

The premise is both novel and simple. Swimmers who can’t access the water will nominate someone else in the group to swim on their behalf.

Charlie Evans (pink swim cap) with  Peter Hendriks at Half Moon Bay, Black Rock.

Charlie Evans (pink swim cap) with Peter Hendriks at Half Moon Bay, Black Rock.Credit:Luis Ascui

“It doesn’t matter how little or how much [you donate],” Mr Hendriks says.

“For me, every person I swim for I donate $10 or $20 and they’ve been reciprocating that.”

The lengths and types of swims are based on request and can be anywhere between four and 20 kilometres.

In the beginning, it was just Mr Hendriks and swimming mate Charlie Evans. Then the idea caught on.

“We’re picking up new people who are saying ‘I swam for four people who are out in the country’. Or ‘I’m swimming for people in the Dandenongs’. We’re getting to know more of our members through it too.”

The kernel of #swimforamate stems from Mr Hendriks’ plan to launch a website facilitating runs, swims or rides that raise money for the Cancer Council in the name of people who have passed away.

“I’m a cancer survivor and I got put in this category of ‘you kicked its arse, you fought it and you won’,” he says.

“But you know, I didn’t do anything. I just took my treatment and was lucky enough to come out on the other side.

“My sister and brother-in-law didn’t fight any less hard, but they weren’t as fortunate. I want to celebrate the people who couldn’t make it.”

Cooking for the vulnerable

For Lorena Ramos, a Colombian international student living in Melbourne, the opportunity to cook meals for some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged has given her a sense of purpose in COVID-19.

The 31-year-old has lived in Australia for two years, studying English and working as a chef at a Peruvian restaurant in the city – until the pandemic stole her shifts.

Chefs from the FareShare kitchen.

Chefs from the FareShare kitchen.Credit:Justin McManus

It was a blow, but she signed up to the Working For Victoria scheme and became one of the 150 chefs hired by FareShare to make meals for those doing it tough during lockdown.

FareShare is a charity which uses rescued and donated food to provide meals to thousands of Victorians experiencing food insecurity.

Partnering with Woolworths, ALH Group and the Victorian government, FareShare’s Melbourne kitchen has cooked nearly 1.3 million meals for people in Victoria since March and more than doubled their monthly meal output.

Ms Ramos, who worked as a teacher in Colombia, says cooking for FareShare is as rewarding as teaching because it gives something back to the city.

She says imagining strangers enjoying her culinary creations brings her joy.

“I don’t have enough words to express how happy I am here,” she says

It takes a village

Living through a pandemic is, on its own, an emotional rollercoaster.

Having another baby is a similarly life-altering experience.

So a month ago when Hannah Miflin gave birth to her daughter only to take her back into intensive care hours later, she was rightly overwhelmed.

When Ms Miflin’s neighbours and church community found out what she and her family were going through, they offered her all kinds of support.

Her friend in the area told others in the neighbourhood how the family was going and soon people she barely knew were offering a lending hand.

Hannah Miflin with her daughter Aisling, was overwhelmed by the support she received from her neighbours and church community when Aisling went into intensive care after birth.

Hannah Miflin with her daughter Aisling, was overwhelmed by the support she received from her neighbours and church community when Aisling went into intensive care after birth.Credit:Justin McManus.

Her church group banded together and got the family over $700 in food delivery vouchers and friends took in her toddler for a few days while she and her husband were tied up at the hospital.

Someone even dropped off their spare car so the parents could take shifts watching over their newborn, because COVID restrictions at the hospital meant they couldn’t be in the room at the same time.

With Ms Miflin’s family up in Sydney, she says it is the support of her community that is carrying her through this time

“Because we’ve got a three-year-old, we had to rely on our community heaps here and it was just incredible.”

Their neighbour, Maria O’Driscoll, came to the rescue to watch over their daughter while Ms Miflin and her husband went to the hospital during the night.

Ms O’Driscoll says she knew her neighbour would have done the same for her.

“It’s really nice to have that community feel and to support each other,” she says.

“We’ve got a great little group of mums locally and we all catch up and keep in contact with each other, so it’s really good to be able to provide that support.”

Ms Miflin says the experience her family has gone through during COVID reminds her that people want to look out for each other.

“We are not designed to live as islands in isolation,” she says.

“It takes a village, right?”

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Brett Sutton says the concerning Casey cluster, linked to 34 cases, was now under control.



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National cabinet will meet today to discuss hotel quarantine arrangements for new international arrival caps as well as a definition of a hotspot. Follow our live coverage.



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Victoria records 28 new cases of coronavirus, eight deaths, announces free four year old kindergarten, regional schools to open early


Another eight Victorians have died from the virus, taking the state’s death toll to 745.

Melbourne’s crucial 14-day case average has fallen to 44.4, its lowest level since the height of the second coronavirus wave.

Free kinder to continue

Victorian sessional kindergarten will remain free for most families in the fourth term.
The state government will provide $26.7 million in additional funding for early childhood services set to reopen on October 5.

The government will provide about $500 per enrolled child to community-based, local government and school providers to provide free access to 15 hours of kindergarten per week.

The government will also provide extra funding for cleaning.

“This has been a tough year for all of us – including some of our littlest Victorians. We’ll give some extra help to families and childhood services as our kinder kids [get] back on-site and we take careful steps towards COVID normal,” Mr Andrews said.

Education Minister James Merlino said there would also be additional help for vulnerable children.

Mr Merlino said $4 million would be set aside to help with schooling transition by bringing teachers to kindergartens to engage with children starting school in 2021 as school tours for those children would not be possible this year.

Mr Merlino also confirmed that primary schools in regional Victoria would be able to receive students from October 5 instead of the originally slated start date of October 12, due to regional Victoria’s low numbers.

“They will make a decision about whether they have their preps on the Monday or the great six the Monday but the transition will happen in that first week,” he said.

Mr Merlino said there was no changes to the plans for regional high schools, and no changes from the roadmap plan for metropolitan Melbourne for any schools.

Average down but concern at Casey cluster

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Professor Allen Cheng said a cluster in the Casey local government area – mainly around Hallam and Narre Warren – was of concern for health authorities.

Half of today’s 28 cases are linked to known clusters, including five from Casey.

Professor Cheng said there was a number of different households linked to the Casey cluster.

“There’s a number of households they are but we are looking into that and trying to find out where everyone has been so we can make sure the transmission chains are controlled,” he said.

The 14-day average fell below 50 for the first time since the peak of the second surge in cases on Wednesday to 49.6. In its road map to recovery, the state government said restrictions would only start to ease from the end of September in Melbourne if the 14-day average remained between 30 and 50 cases.

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The state recorded 42 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, but the overall tally of cases only increased by 32 after 10 cases were reclassified due to duplication. Of the new cases reported on Wednesday, 29 were linked to known outbreaks but 13 remain under investigation.

Health officials have added three new locations to the list of high-risk COVID-19 exposure sites in Melbourne.

Anyone who visited Clifton Hill Mitre 10 last Thursday (September 10), Craigieburn Shopping Centre last Friday (September 11) and KFC at Westgate Port Melbourne last Thursday and Friday (September 10 and September 11) is being urged to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they feel unwell.

In regional Victoria, residents can now have visitors to their homes, restaurants and cafes can have seated indoor and outdoor dining, beauty services can reopen and people can gather in groups of 10 outside.

Geelong residents were enjoying brunch at cafes for the first time in weeks on Thursday morning.

Of his area’s new-found freedom, Wharf Shed cafe owner Andrew Clark said: “It tastes fantastic …

“It’s a great day for regional Victoria and for the hospitality industry – we’re open at long last with restrictions,” he told the Today show.

“We have a limit of 20 per venue and an outside limit of 50, but we’re working [with] that.

“We really feel for Melbourne people – we just hope they abide by the rules.”

In an effort to stop Melburnians travelling to regional Victoria, police checkpoints have been beefed-up.

Police and Australian Defence Force personnel were stopping every single car and truck at the Nar Nar Goon checkpoint near Pakenham on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts on Thursday morning.

Melburnians face an almost $5000 fine for trying to travel to the country without a valid reason.

Deputy Commissioner of regional operations Rick Nugent announced the new $4957 fine on Tuesday for “failure to comply with a requirement to remain in a restricted area”.

Mr Nugent added police would check every car towing caravans or boats during the upcoming September school holidays.

The fine will apply to every person found in a group travelling. For example, a couple travelling would each receive a $4957 fine and be sent home.

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AFL confirms ‘virtual’ 2020 Brownlow Medal count because of coronavirus restrictions


The AFL has announced the 2020 Brownlow Medal count will be conducted as a “virtual event” with no standalone ceremony because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The AFL’s best and fairest award ceremony is traditionally held as a gala event in Melbourne featuring more than 1,000 guests on the Monday evening prior to the grand final.

The league released a statement on Wednesday evening confirming it had opted for a “made-for-TV event” to take place on October 18, which is the Sunday before the grand final.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan will be in Queensland to read the votes on the evening, with the Seven Network to broadcast the event.

“The Charles Brownlow Medal is our game’s highest individual honour and continues to be the most prestigious night of the AFL calendar,” AFL commercial manager Kylie Rogers said in a statement.

“It’s incredibly difficult to get people together in indoor event spaces in a responsible manner given the current environment, and the community’s safety has been at the forefront of every decision we’ve made.

“While the glamour of the red carpet will be missed this year, we are looking forward to delivering a special format made specifically for the broadcast audience at home, so our fans can continue to celebrate their heroes and their achievements this year.”

A man in a lairy suit holds the train of a ridiculously long white dress belonging to his partner.
The red carpet has been a feature of the Brownlow Medal ceremony for a number of years.(AAP: Julian Smith)

The decision to alter the Brownlow Medal count is the latest change to tradition the AFL has been forced to make in light of coronavirus.

The grand final will be held at the Gabba in Brisbane on October 24, the first time the season decider will be staged outside Melbourne in the VFL/AFL’s history.

It will also be played at night, instead of in the traditional afternoon timeslot.

A Brisbane Lions AFL player runs with the ball in both hands in front of his teammates against the Adelaide Crows.
Lions star Lachie Neale (centre) is expected by many pundits to take out the Brownlow Medal.(AAP: Darren England)

Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale is the favourite to win the Brownlow Medal award, which is being handed out for the 93rd time.

Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe is the reigning Brownlow Medal winner, having claimed the honour for the second time in his career last season.



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IBAC to investigate Epping incident as police reveal mental health training delayed due to bushfires, coronavirus


Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson said both incidents had been captured on the officer’s body-worn cameras, as he moved to reassure Victorians that police were there to protect and support the community.

“No police officer comes to work with an intention or desire to use force of any sort throughout their shift. Unfortunately though, our role in both protecting the community and ourselves … does see us use force on occasion,” he said.

“It’s disappointing and the community should be disappointed if police go beyond what is required as reasonable force.”

Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission will investigate Sunday’s Epping arrest as the man’s family considers legal action.

Footage of the violent arrest in Epping was widely shared online. The 32-year-old father-of-three is recovering in hospital after initially being placed into an induced coma.

The man, who has bipolar disorder, had been attempting to seek treatment at the Northern Hospital while waiting for a bed in the psychiatric ward on Sunday. But after a 19-hour wait he left, smashing the hospital doors on his way out.

Witness footage shows the man walking into the middle of the road, waving his arms in front of a police car. Soon after, he’s rammed by the police car and six officers attempt to place him in custody; one stomping on the back of his head.

Glenn's son was at the centre of a dramatic arrest in Epping on Sunday.

Glenn’s son was at the centre of a dramatic arrest in Epping on Sunday. Credit:Nine News

The member allegedly involved in the stomping had since been suspended with pay and the officer in the car has had his authority to drive on duty withdrawn.

The man’s brother, who asked not to be named, said more police should be stood down.

“Kicking someone on the head while they’re on the ground with their arms pinned behind them, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” he told Nine News.

Asked whether the man involved in the Epping arrest had been failed by the system, Mr Paterson said those were matters for IBAC to examine.

But he said the stomping was an “inappropriate” use of force and the ramming was “concerning”.

“I try and put myself in that person’s position or a close family member of that particular person, and 19 hours at a hospital seems like an extraordinary period of time to wait, but that’s matters for others,” Mr Paterson said.

“The man self presented to the hospital for assistance and treatment. I’m unaware as to why he wasn’t treated in a shorter period. But had he been, it may have prevented this incident occurring.”

IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich said the community was “rightfully concerned” if someone was injured during an interaction with police.

“Given the potentially serious nature of this incident, IBAC has determined it is in the public interest to independently investigate this matter,” he said.

The incidents at Epping and Lilydale are the latest in a rising number of violent interactions between police and the state’s mentally ill.

In May, a 53-year-old Narre Warren father was gunned down on the Monash Freeway at Dandenong North after lunging at officers with a knife.

In July, Gabriel Messo was shot dead by police after attacking his mother in a Gladstone Park reserve.

Both men had a history of mental health concerns.

When asked about what training police officers were being given around their interactions with the mentally ill, Mr Paterson said police had intended to roll out new specialist mental health training for all staff earlier this year before the bushfire season saw it put on hold.

Now, he said, the coronavirus pandemic meant police were unable to train in groups.

“This mental health training is a priority,” he said. “When it’s safe to go back into face-to-face scenario training we will absolutely be rolling out this training.”

Tim Marsh, chief counsel at Victorian Legal Aid, said the prevalence of emergency service workers being first responders at health emergencies was of “great concern”.

He predicted the state’s mental health royal commission would make findings to address the matter, and said more mental health specialists were required to respond to acute incidents.

Greg Barns SC, criminal justice spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said the incident at Epping was “appalling” and highlighted cultural issues in Victoria Police.

“They acted in the knowledge they’d probably be recorded. It was a brazen act of aggression.”

Police Accountability Project principal solicitor Gregor Husper reiterated calls for health professionals to be involved in responding to critical incidents involving mental illness, rather than just police.

He said it was “frustrating to hear” police talk about their commitment to rolling out more mental health training for officers.

“If I had a scrapbook for every time police try to explain away bad behaviour with training, it’s a smoke screen and they know it.”

With Paul Sakkal

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has dashcam or mobile footage to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue1300 224 636.

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Daniel Andrews praises the hard work of Victorians as the state records 37 new cases of coronavirus and six deaths. It is the lowest daily case increase in almost three months.



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Coronavirus: Victoria


The modelling also predicts the Andrews government’s decision last month to move from stage three to stage four restrictions will cost the city’s economy $61 billion over five years – although the modelling did not take into account the economic or health impacts of a worsening pandemic.

Active cases dropped to 1336 across the state on Friday. The number of COVID-19 cases with an unknown source is now across the last two weeks was on Friday 134 for metropolitan Melbourne and seven in regional Victoria.

Victoria recorded 43 new cases of coronavirus and nine additional deaths reported yesterday, with five of the deaths occurring in the days prior.

The state’s curfew drew ire from conservative and progressive politicians on Friday, after Premier Daniel Andrews justified the curfew decision by saying it was designed to aid law enforcement, which was denied by Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton.

Couple caught trying to go to Mornington Peninsula for weekend escape among 109 fined

A man and woman trying to get away for a weekend escape on the Mornington Peninsula are among those fined by police for breaking COVID-19 restrictions.

There were 109 fines handed out by Victoria Police in the 24 hours up to 8.30am on Saturday.

Another man was caught travelling 45 kilometres between Ascot Vale and Keysborough to “pick up a mattress he found cheap on Facebook”, according to a Victoria Police spokeswoman.

Two women were fined for police for being at the Tarneit Railway Station without a valid reason.

Twenty people were fined for not wearing a mask while away from their home, while 36 people were given a $1652 infringement for breaching Melbourne’s 8pm to 5am curfew overnight.

There were 2053 vehicles stopped at checkpoints on Friday, with five fines handed out by police at these locations.

– With Bianca Hall, Noel Towell and Michael Fowler

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How drug combo can ‘cure’ coronavirus symptoms


An “almost foolproof” three-pronged treatment for coronavirus symptoms is being rolled out in Victorian nursing homes, according to gastroenterologist Professor Thomas Borody.

The Centre for Digestive Disease professor said the “triple therapy” involved Ivermectin, Doxycycline and zinc and “cured” at least 15 of his COVID-19 positive patients.

“Within 48 hours their cough had gone down and fever decreased – their oxygen levels had also significantly improved in that time,” Prof Borody told NCA NewsWire.

The professor – famous for his development of the triple-therapy cure for peptic ulcers in 1987 – said “a number” of Victorian aged care facilities had this week signed up to start using the therapy, which was Federal Drug Agency and World Health Organisation approved.

“You need drugs that block enzymes in the cell,” Prof Borody said.

“When Ivermectin and zinc combine, it’s very important in killing the reproductive cycle where multiplication occurs.

“Virtually everybody gets cured – it’s so simple and in 10 days, side effects are virtually unheard of.”

Prof Borody said Ivermectin was widely used for parasitic infections and was being cited and prescribed as treatment against the deadly coronavirus in South America, Japan and the UK.

He called on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton to consider the research of the therapy.

“I’ve gotten a positive response so far from the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt and deputy chief health officer Dr Nick Coatsworth, but if we want to stop the suffering in Victoria, this needs to be prescribed to the masses,” Prof Borody said.

“This can open up aged care and end lockdown within the aged care system.

“You’ve got about 2000 active cases in Victoria and many more general practitioners than that – so if every doctor started prescribing this you’ll start to see the changes Victoria has been longing for.”



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