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Cristiano Ronaldo, Dustin Johnson the latest top sports stars to test positive for coronavirus


Two of the world’s highest-profile sportsmen, Cristiano Ronaldo and Dustin Johnson, have tested positive to coronavirus.

Portugal’s Football Federation confirmed in a statement on its website that the superstar of the world game, Ronaldo, had tested positive for COVID-19.

The 35-year-old Juventus striker is “well, has no symptoms and is in isolation”, the Federation said.

Ronaldo was dropped from Portugal’s Nations League match against Sweden on Wednesday as a result.

The Federation said the rest of the Portugal squad had undergone tests as a result of Ronaldo’s positive result, but that they had all tested negative and would be available for the Sweden match.

Two other Portugal players — Jose Fonte and Anthony Lopes — had tested positive for COVID-19 recently.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos said last week that positive results among players were “happening everywhere in the world.”

“We are the most tested people and we have the guarantee that everyone who will be traveling to France with us are negative,” Santos said.

Less than 24 hours ago, Ronaldo shared an image on his Twitter and Instagram accounts showing himself and his teammates enjoying a meal together.

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Along with the tweet, Ronaldo wrote, in Portuguese: “United on and off the field!”

It was not immediately clear when the photograph was taken, which showed none of the players wearing masks.

Five-time world player of the year Ronaldo appeared in his side’s 0-0 draw away to France in the Nations League on Sunday and last Wednesday’s 0-0 draw in a friendly at home to Spain.

He will now be doubtful for Juventus’s Serie A trip to Crotone on Saturday and their Champions League group stage opening game away to Dynamo Kiev next Tuesday.

And depending on his condition and the results of future tests, he could also miss the much-anticipated Champions League match against Barcelona on October 28.

Juventus had been in quarantine

While Portugal’s national team has not been beset by coronavirus cases, Italian club football in the last year has been hit hard.

In the last fortnight alone Genoa were unable to fulfill the requirement to have 13 players including a goalkeeper available to take on Napoli after 20 Genoa players and staff tested positive.

Napoli then failed to show for a match against Juventus after being told not to travel by their local health authority due to two positive COVID tests.

The previous Serie A season was put on hiatus for months and Ronaldo’s Juventus side has seen a number of players test positive in the past.

The whole squad was again put into isolation on October 4 when two club staff members tested positive to COVID-19.

As a result there has been some controversy that Ronaldo and six other players were allowed to leave the isolated group and join their national teams.

Johnson out of PGA tour event after positive test

A golfer stares down the fair way after completing his tee shot at a PGA Tour event.
Dustin Johnson began experiencing symptoms ahead of this week’s PGA Tour event in Las Vegas.(AP: Charles Krupa, file photo)

Men’s world number one golfer, Johnson, was forced to withdraw from this week’s PGA Tour event at the Shadow Creek club in Las Vegas.

The PGA Tour put out a statement confirming Johnson would not be in the field when play begins on Thursday.

“Experiencing symptoms, Johnson notified PGA Tour officials and was administered a test, with the positive result forcing his withdrawal from the event,” the statement read.

“Johnson, who last competed at the US Open, will have the PGA Tour’s full support throughout his self-isolation period under CDC guidelines.”

Johnson, the 2020 PGA Tour player of the year, missed out on his second major when he was joint-second behind winner Collin Morikawa at this year’s PGA Championship in August.

“Obviously, I am very disappointed,” Johnson was quoted in the statement.

“I was really looking forward to competing this week, but will do everything I can to return as quickly as possible.

“I have already had a few calls with the Tour’s medical team and appreciate all the support and guidance they have given me.”

Ronaldo and Johnson are just the latest sports stars to return positive COVID-19 tests.

Recently, a number of NFL players in the United States tested positive, including star New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.

And the tennis world was rocked earlier this year when a number of men’s players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, tested positive.

Djokovic, who has in the past expressed anti-vaccination views, hosted an exhibition tournament where coronavirus spread, and was later spotted partying along with other players including Grigor Dimitrov, who also tested positive for the virus.

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Dwayne The Rock Johnson TV show stopped by Queensland ambulance


The only thing that can stop Hollywood legend ‘The Rock’ in his tracks is a Queensland ambulance.

Filming for the Queensland-based TV series based on the life of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was in motion in a side street in Strathpine, in northern Brisbane, on Tuesday.

The NBC production Young Rock is based on the formative years of Hollywood’s highest paid actor and is being filmed across southeast Queensland.

A Moreton Bay Regional Council representative doorknocked every house in the area to warn them that access to the area may be restricted when the cameras were rolling.

Only one concern was raised, when a woman said she had an ambulance booked on Wednesday afternoon for a hospital appointment.

“They agreed to stop production when the ambulance picked her up and again when it was to drop her off,” the MBCC representative told NCA NewsWire.

Aussie actor Uli Latukefu will play Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson from the ages of 18 to 20, when he’s recruited to play American football at the University of Miami.

The 11-part comedy will track Johnson’s life from childhood and his formative years growing up and his run for presidency.

New Zealand actor Stacey Leilua has been cast as Johnson’s mother Ata Johnson and has posted a photo on Instagram of a gift sent to all cast members to mark the start of production.

She wrote: “Blessings from the top as we begin the next phase of our #youngrock journey this week” with a photo of a bottle of Teremana tequila and a note from ‘The Rock’.

“Stacey, Congratulations on our start of production for Young Rock,” the note read.

“ Enjoy your Teremana and many positive and grateful vibes sent your way.

Cheers, DJ.”

Filming was to have taken place along Bells Pocket Rd, Strathpine, between Dobson Drive and Fox St between 2pm and 6pm although that has been extended to 9pm because of inclement weather.

The production is expected to move to Coorparoo on Wednesday.

Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery said the region was becoming quite popular with production houses because it was considerably cheaper than the Gold Coast with a number of TV commercials being made in recent times.

“We’ve rolled out the red carpet for this production – turning around their application at lightning fast speed, waiving their filming fees, and even getting staff to help doorknock residents in Strathpine to let them know what’s going on,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“With our shimmering coastlines and stunning hinterland region, why wouldn’t we be able to lure some A-listers away from the Gold Coast and Sydney?

“We’re already the first choice for a lot of national and international brands to film advertisements, but we want a slice of that Hollywood razzle dazzle.

“I hope today’s filming puts us in the box-office seat for future filming success.”



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Sydney Roosters defeat Sharks ahead of NRL finals, Shaun Johnson suffers serious injury


Cronulla is set to be without Shaun Johnson for its NRL finals campaign amid fears the star halfback snapped his Achilles tendon in a tough 34-18 loss to the Sydney Roosters at the SCG.

Johnson went down untouched clutching his lower right leg in the 48th minute and was soon after carted from the field.

He gave the thumbs up to the crowd from the back of the medicab before reports emerged of the season-ending injury.

Adding to the Sharks’ injury woes, prop Royce Hunt dislocated his right knee cap in the second half and Josh Dugan was taken off late with a knee ailment.

With just one match left before the finals, losing Johnson — who leads the NRL with 22 try-assists this season — is a disaster for the Sharks who will not have a second chance in week one.

And while the Sharks’ injury crisis dominated the second half, the opening 40 minutes was all about the Roosters.

Roosters players tackle Ronaldo Mulitalo
The Roosters’ defence had the measure of the Sharks in the 16-point victory.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

It was a magical night for Mitch Aubusson, who scored a brace in his 303rd NRL match for the club to become their most-capped player.

The first was a short ball from Joseph Manu to crash over just five minutes after Aubusson led the team out as captain through a guard of honour.

But the second was more dubious.

Chasing through a grubber from Angus Crichton, Aubusson appeared to knock the ball on but replays showed he trapped it between his leg and hand.

The stroke of luck landed the milestone man his double and put the Roosters ahead 24-6 before they conceded late in the half.

After seven first-half errors the Sharks still managed to score twice with just 42 per cent possession, as they were steered around by Johnson before he went down.

Ronaldo Mulitalo and Siosifa Talakai scored in the first half but a third try to Braden Hamlin-Uele further punished the disjointed Roosters’ defence.

The premiers had enough class to polish off the win, even while missing some of their biggest stars.

James Tedesco, Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner all watched from the stands as the Roosters ran in six tries, including a double to Luke Keary.

All are set to return to play South Sydney on Friday night.

Storm post half-century

Two Melbourne Storm NRL players embrace after scoring a try against Wests Tigers.
Storm captain Cameron Smith had plenty of reasons to smile during his side’s win.(AAP: Regi Varghese)

Melbourne has sealed a top-two berth ahead of the NRL finals after claiming a comfortable 50-22 win over the Wests Tigers on the Sunshine Coast.

The Storm ran in nine tries against the Wests Tigers, with wingers Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr each chipping in with doubles.

Captain Cameron Smith, Nicho Hynes, Jahrome Hughes, Justin Olam and Tino Faasuamaleaui also crossed for Storm tries.

The comfortable victory featured a comical moment between Smith and Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

The Storm were leading by 16 points late in the match when Smith kicked ahead for himself to claim the 47th try of his career.

Smith’s tally surpassed the total achieved Bellamy during his 150-match career with Canberra between 1982 and 1992.

Smith instantly directed his celebration towards the coach’s box on the Sunshine Coast, before Bellamy responded by giving Smith the finger in jest.

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It was a vintage performance from Smith, who finished the night with a try assist, seven conversions from nine attempts, and 30 tackles.

Rookie Asu Kepaoa scored two of the Wests Tigers’ four tries.

The Storm will finish second on the ladder to Penrith, who wrapped up the minor premiership with a victory over the Cowboys on Friday night.

Trbojevic injured in loss to Gold Coast

A Manly Sea Eagles NRL receives treatment from a trainer during the match against the Gold Coast Titans.
Injury-plagued Tom Trbojevic (left) was forced from the field in the Sea Eagles’ loss.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Tom Trbojevic sustained a shoulder injury in his long-awaited return for Manly, who went down to Gold Coast in a crushing 42-24 defeat at Brookvale Oval.

Playing his first match since June after being sidelined with a troublesome hamstring injury, Trbojevic was hurt attempting to make a tackle on Titans fullback AJ Brimson during the second half.

Brimson crossed for a try, with Trbojevic left with his right arm dangling by his side before he later departed the field.

Manly officials were initially hopeful the injury was only a stinger, but it comes at the worst possible time for Trbojevic.

Including Saturday’s loss, he had just two matches to impress New South Wales coach Brad Fittler before the end-of-season State of Origin series.

Trbojevic looked particularly rusty at the back on Saturday afternoon in both attack and defence, with two of his four errors coming after the shoulder injury.

His presence in attack helped Manly score one try as he drew in two defenders off the ball, while he also helped chase down Titans flyer Treymain Spry Sprei to deny him a 90-metre intercept try.

But on other occasions his injury lay-off showed, such as his failure to shadow a grubber dead that allowed Kevin Proctor to score and his fumbling of a poor Tevita Funa pass in the lead-up to another Titans try.

Regardless, the Sea Eagles were completely outplayed by the Titans, who posted their equal-highest score in their 14-year history.

The Titans have now won four straight matches for the first time since 2014. They are ninth on the ladder after being tipped by a number of commentators to collect the wooden spoon.

Brimson scored two tries, including an 80-metre effort that left referee Matt Noyen with an injured hamstring after Young Tonumaipea found his teammate from a 20-metre tap.

Tonumaipea also claimed a brace, making the most of a 60-metre intercept from Corey Thompson for his second.

Thompson finished the match off with a hamstring injury after earlier scoring a try, while Sam Stone and Spry scored the Titans’ other tries.

The result means Manly will finish the season with just one win from seven matches at its home ground Brookvale Oval.

AAP/ABC



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Kevin Proctor’s bite on Shaun Johnson will see him banned, but should not be how he is judged in the NRL


I was watching the game between the Sharks and Titans on Sunday and it’s hard to say it was not a bite from Kevin Proctor on Shaun Johnson.

I know there are other people out there saying that it wasn’t a bite, including Proctor who has said he will be pleading not guilty at the judiciary, but it’s a tough one.

The video evidence at the time said that it was a bite and, from where I was sitting and the footage I saw, I thought it was probably a bite, but other people obviously have different opinions to me.

Shaun Johnson’s arm was there, Proctor closed his mouth then opened it very quickly. It was almost a reflex reaction to the arm being there.

A Cronulla Sharks NRL player shows his right arm to a referee following an alleged biting incident.
Shaun Johnson’s reaction does not help Kevin Proctor’s case.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Proctor said he was being choked a little bit, but the game was on the line too. He’s trying to get up and have a quick play the ball. He’s getting a bit frustrated.

All of those factors come into play but, at the end of the day, you need to know that you just have to cop being manhandled in that instance and just leave it.

I think Shaun Johnson answered it pretty well after the game, saying it was just one of those things and that it was not malicious — and both players shook hands about it after the match.

A Gold Coast Titans NRL player makes contact with the right forearm of a Cronulla opponent with his mouth while being tackled.
Kevin Proctor might have had a reflex reaction to the presence of Shaun Johnson’s arm.(Fox Sports)

I don’t know what the punishment will be, but I would not be surprised if he got the rest of the year.

If you revert back to James Graham’s bite on Billy Slater in the 2012 grand final, he ended up getting 12 weeks for that.

I think if they’re going to judge any punishment, they’ll use that as a reference point.

I feel for him, but I don’t see him getting off it and will probably be looking at about six weeks.

It’s not a very good look for the game at all, but Proctor shouldn’t be judged just on that one thing.

He’s played 250 games in the NRL and playing some really good football at the moment, but he’s just had a quick brain snap, which happens to the best of us and he got caught for it.

Last minute drama made for fantastic entertainment

It was another weekend where there were some fantastic games of football — and it’s hard to pick out which one was best.

I can’t go past Penrith, who didn’t play the most spectacular game but tackled well and still did enough to claim their ninth win in a row.

But the tight games Tigers-Bulldogs game on Sunday and the Cowboys-Souths game on Saturday were excellent.

A Wests Tigers NRL player drops the ball before an attempt to kick it against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Luke Brooks slotted one of two last-gasp field goals this weekend.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

Against Souths, the Cowboys had it in the bag but just let it slip at the last.

To be in front and have an opportunity to win the game, only to have a little bit of a mishap over two or three minutes and then find yourself behind on the scoreboard. Sometimes that is harder pill to swallow.

A defeat is a defeat, but if you get flogged you can say that you just weren’t on today, whereas it’s sometimes a little bit harder when you lose by a point.

In saying that, it’s a great feeling when you are behind all game only to turn it on for a few minutes, come up with field goal and get a one-point win.

I couldn’t tell you what it’s like to kick a field goal because I’ve never done it to win game.

But I remember watching Brett Finch kicking the goal in State of Origin in 2006 and sealing the game 9-8 — I can’t think of any better situation to kick a field goal to win a game like that.

It is an individual situation, but you also need your team around you though to set it up, so even though its one man taking the shot, the responsibility falls on everyone.

Two South Sydney NRL players congratulate a teammate after kicked the winning field goal against North Queensland.
Adam Reynolds got the plaudits, but field goals are a team thing.(AAP: Cameron Laird)

You’ve got to get in that position first, you’ve got to come up with the clean play of the ball, the pass has to be on the money — and you’ve got to back up if he misses with a good defensive set afterwards.

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There was a good example in the Souths game when Keaon Koloamatangi gave a really strong carry, which helped Souths get up the field on the last tackle.

Then there was a very quick play of the ball from Tevita Tatola and that gave Adam Reynolds enough time to catch the ball and get a nice drop onto his foot.

When you get the call set up to take a shot you would usually see a few real strong carries up the middle of the field and perhaps a little shift early in the count to pull the team apart.

The halves or hooker, or whoever is going to take responsibility with the kick will get the set up ready — but it always comes off a big strong carry.

Luke Lewis was talking to ABC News Digital’s Simon Smale.



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Jason Day still in touch at PGA Championship, Dustin Johnson leads going into final day


A resurgent Jason Day says he is thrilled at having a chance to win an elusive second major after golf’s cream rose to the top during a dramatic third round at the US PGA Championship.

Day is among a stack of big names who have set the stage for an exciting finish to the first major of a year ravaged by COVID-19.

It was not easy for Day, who barely held on during a lacklustre, even-par 70 on day three but, at six under, he will start Monday morning’s final round just three shots off the pace.

Dustin Johnson took the 54-hole lead at San Francisco’s TPC Harding Park with a superb 65 that also has him poised to capture a second major to go with his 2016 US Open title.

At nine under, big-hitting Johnson will take a one-shot lead over fellow Americans Scottie Scheffler (65) and the powerful Cameron Champ (67).

Defending champion Brooks Koepka (69), Collin Morikawa (65) and England veteran Paul Casey (68) are seven under.

Bryson DeChambeau (66) — who hit a career-long 95 foot (29 metre) to end his third round — Tony Finau (67), Justin Rose (70) and Daniel Berger (70) are tied with Day at six under.

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Day, the 2015 PGA champion, has not been in contention on golf’s biggest stage since the 2019 Masters at Augusta National.

The 32-year-old found form recently with three top-10 results on the US PGA Tour leading into the PGA Championship.

He is hungry to go the next level.

“It’s just nice to be able to be in contention at a major championship again and know that your game is good enough to get in contention,” Day said.

“We haven’t played a major in ages. It’s strange, but I’m excited to be here.”

Day is also buoyed by the chance to become Australia’s first male winner of multiple majors since Greg Norman captured a second British Open title in 1993.

But Day says he will try to ignore that milestone and the leaders on the final day at Harding Park.

Duston Johnson looks forwards with his golf club behind his head after a swing
Dustin Johnson has a one shot lead.(AP: Jeff Chiu)

“I won’t focus on the lead at all,” he said.

“If I can walk off at the end of the day knowing I gave everything, then I’ll be happy. Hopefully it’s enough to win.”

Day faces a stern challenge in reeling in Johnson, who bounced back from a double-bogey at the ninth with four back-nine birdies.

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Johnson’s world-class driving is tailor-made for major championships, having finished runner-up in the Masters (2019), British Open (2011) and last year’s PGA.

“I definitely have experience in this situation that definitely will help tomorrow,” Johnson said.

But four-time major winner Koepka, seeking to win a third successive PGA Championship, questioned Johnson’s ability to close.

“I like my chances. When I’ve been in this position before, I’ve capitalised,” Koepka said of Johnson.

“He’s only won one.”

Australian world number nine Adam Scott squandered a chance to make ground when a flat, even-par 70 left him at two under while countryman Cameron Smith (70) finished at even par.

Four-time PGA champion Tiger Woods (72, two over) is well out of contention for a 16th major championship win.

AAP



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Johnson & Johnson gears up for collaboration on COVID vaccine supply


Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is rapidly scaling up its manufacturing capabilities as it progresses development of its COVID vaccine and says it will be looking to work with governments to discuss fast-tracking supply if successful.

The vaccine hopeful is yet another option Australia will most likely have to negotiate to import if it wants supply, with the $US390 billion ($544 billion) biotech firm looking to the US and Europe for trials and broader manufacturing.

From AstraZeneca to Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the world's biotech giants are negotiating how to make a COVID vaccine at scale.

From AstraZeneca to Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biotech giants are negotiating how to make a COVID vaccine at scale. Credit:University of Oxford.

“We have expanded our manufacturing capacity, including establishing new US vaccine manufacturing capabilities and scaling up capacity in other countries,” a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical arm, Janssen Australia and New Zealand, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“Johnson & Johnson has existing manufacturing capacity in Leiden, Netherlands. We have entered into agreements to expand our manufacturing capability, partnering with Emergent BioSolutions and Catalent Biologics.”



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FFA boss James Johnson fumes at ‘disrespectful’ English FA for voting against Australian’s 2023 Women’s World Cup bid


The English FA’s decision to snub the trans-Tasman Women’s World Cup bid has been labelled disrespectful by FFA chief executive James Johnson.

Despite scoring 4.1 out of five in a FIFA evaluation report compared to Colombia’s 2.9 score, the combined Australia and New Zealand bid was overlooked by English FA chairman Greg Clarke in the vote at the FIFA council meeting.

Clarke’s vote was part of a block decision by the UEFA confederation, which made up eight of the 13 votes Colombia was awarded in total.

While it had little impact on the final margin, with the Australia and New Zealand bid claiming 22 votes, the snub by England left Johnson fuming.

“I actually don’t find it very funny,” Johnson told Fox Sports.

“I think that was quite disrespectful to be perfectly honest with you.

“It was a process that was, I think, run very well by FIFA. We scored very highly on a report that was an objective report.

“We know now what the voting was like, and I must say we are disappointed with the way that the FA voted.”

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Clarke’s decision to align with the Colombian bid appeared set when reports emerged before the vote he had refused to take a phone call from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Europe’s decision to snub Australia was no issue after FIFA chairman Gianni Infantino, and the CAF (Africa) and CONCACAF (North America) delegates backed the trans-Tasman bid.

Johnson said overall he was happy with FIFA’s voting process, which has been revamped following the controversial decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.

“The way that the reports were drafted, and the way the scoring went, I think was reflective of the work that certainly our bid had done,” he said.

“There’s always a little bit of angst when you get into the political part of the process but I think it’s a fair process, the voting will often reflect the bid evaluation report and I think that’s where we landed.”

Infantino admitted he was surprised to see a block vote in favour of Colombia from football’s most powerful confederation but refused to criticise the decision, calling it “democracy”.

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‘A historical day for Australian football’, FFA CEO celebrates successful bid

UEFA said in a statement their vote for Colombia was an attempt to try to increase the growth of the women’s game in South America and their block vote was a solidarity agreement by the European members of the FIFA Council.

“It was a choice between two countries — Australia and New Zealand — where women’s football is already strongly established, and a continent where it still has to be firmly implanted and has a huge development potential.”

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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford campaign makes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson restore children’s food vouchers


Marcus Rashford is famous in Britain as one of the young stars of the Premier League, but the 22-year-old has scored a vital goal off the pitch, forcing the British Government to restore funding for free meals for children.

The young man who grew up as one of five children of a hard-working single mother in Manchester’s Wythenshawe area now earns an estimated 10 million pounds ($18 million) a year playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs.

But he has never forgotten his roots, and when Britain was forced into lockdown this year due to the coronavirus, Rashford began to use his platform to raise awareness and money for those in need.

He worked with poverty and food waste charity FareShare to help raise 20 million pounds ($36 million) to provide food for children who would have been eligible for free meals if still at school.

The campaign is helping to provide three million meals a week across the United Kingdom.

But there was still a large gap between the needs of hungry kids and the ability for charities to provide.

At the weekend, Rashford took his campaign one step further, writing an open letter to members of the British Parliament — his post on Twitter was retweeted more than 157,000 times.

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“My story to get here is all too familiar for families in England: my mum worked full-time, earning minimum wage to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table,” he wrote.

“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches.

“Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year.”

Rashford spoke of getting “thousands of insights” from parents trying to cope amid COVID-19.

“[I have listened to] schoolteachers who are personally covering the cost of food packages for their vulnerable families after the school debit card had been maxed out; mothers who can’t cover the cost of increased electricity and food bills during the lockdown, and parents who are sacrificing their own meals for their children.”

He urged the Government to reconsider its decision to cancel the existing food voucher system over the summer holidays to 1.3 million children from lower-income families.

“As a black man from a low-income family in Wythenshawe, Manchester, I could have been just another statistic,” he wrote.

“Instead, due to the selfless actions of my mum, my family, my neighbours, and my coaches, the only stats I’m associated with are goals, appearances and caps.

A Premier League striker extends his leg after shooting the ball in mid-air, scoring a goal.
Marcus Rashford has scored 41 goals in 133 games for Manchester United.(AP: Jon Super, File photo)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially resisted, but the Government gave in on Tuesday and said it would continue to provide food vouchers over the six-week summer break.

When schools were shut down in March, the voucher program was set up to help ensure children did not go hungry. Vouchers worth 15 pounds ($27.40) were given to spend each week in supermarkets.

The Government said it would continue the program over the summer in England at a cost of 120 million pounds ($219 million). Authorities in Scotland and Wales have similar plans.

Until Tuesday, Mr Johnson’s Conservative Government had refused to budge, pointing out that it had earmarked an extra 63 million pounds ($115 million) for local authorities to support vulnerable families.

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But Rashford’s campaign quickly picked up steam, backed by celebrities, opposition politicians and even some Conservative MPs.

After the announcement, Rashford tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”

Mr Johnson said he had spoken to Rashford to congratulate and thank him.

“We have to understand the pressures families are under right now and that’s why we’ve responded as we have,” Mr Johnson said.

Rashford is not the only young star working to help those in need during the pandemic.

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His teammate Jesse Lingard has taken part in charity FIFA tournaments to raise money for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Lately, as Britain moves to require people to wear face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19, Lingard has created new 12-pound “JLingz” masks, with all proceeds going to provide funds for the NHS.

Rashford’s achievement in forcing the policy change drew praise from the worlds of sport and politics.

Anne Longfield, England’s Children’s Commissioner, thanked Rashford for highlighting “the blight of holiday hunger”.

Manchester United’s official Twitter account said: “A hero. An inspiration. One of our own. We are so proud of you, Marcus Rashford.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters praised Rashford’s perseverance.

“It’s a really important and heart-moving cause so I offer my congratulations to him,” Masters said.

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In a statement, Rashford thanked British MPs for listening.

“This was never about me or you, this was never about politics, this was a cry out for help from vulnerable parents all over the country and I simply provided a platform for their voices to be heard,” he wrote.

“I stand proud today knowing that we have listened, and we have done what is right.”

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Boris Johnson eases lockdown for most of Britain; US unemployment climbs by 41m; global cases top 5.9 million


President Donald Trump weighed in on the figure a day later via Twitter, calling it “a very sad milestone” and extending condolences to the victims’ loved ones.

The US unemployment rate was 14.7 per cent in April, a level not seen since the Depression, and many economists expect it will be near 20 per cent in May.

First-time applications for unemployment have fallen for eight straight weeks, as states gradually let shops, restaurants, salons, gyms and other businesses reopen and the auto industry starts up its factories again.

“The decline in continuing claims is encouraging, signalling at least some people are finding jobs or are being rehired as the economy is reopening,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, a consulting firm.

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UK government defends controversial aide to Boris Johnson over lockdown breach; Australian death toll stands at 102


“If they can’t manage a program like JobKeeper … then there has got to be a great question mark over how they’ll manage the economic recovery,” Mr Albanese said.

Sadly, a man in his 60s has died in a Victorian hospital from COVID-19, bringing the national COVID-19 toll to 102.

Victoria recorded 10 new cases on Saturday, but they are not believed to be linked to outbreaks at the Cedar Meats abattoir, Fawkner McDonald’s, or aged care facilities. However, investigations are still under way.

“It may be that (Saturday’s new) cases are linked to some of these outbreaks – these results often come in quite late at night and so it does require quite a bit of investigating sometimes to link back into other outbreaks or known cases,” deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen said yesterday.

Nine people are currently in hospital in Victoria, including three in intensive care.

NSW recorded just three new cases yesterday, but the state’s health minister Brad Hazzard wants more people to come forward to be tested.

“As we try to relax the restrictions that we have lived under for the past two months, it is crucial, absolutely crucial, that people come forward for testing if they have the slightest hint of any respiratory issues at all,” he told reporters in Sydney.

with AAP



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