Australian News

NT border closed for 18 months

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has revealed he will keep the state’s border shut for at least another 18 months from Tuesday, and recruiting extra police to keep the barriers in place.

Currently, anyone coming from Sydney or Victoria must complete two weeks quarantine at their own expense if they want to enter the state, and everyone must fill in a border declaration pass.

Mr Gunner told ABC 24 the list of banned venues is more likely to increase than decrease, and 18 months was a “conservative” estimate for when the borders would be wide open again.

“We have got an indefinite ban on Victoria, and Sydney keeps bubbling away to a point to I can’t give you a date where that would ever lift,” he said.

“My advice to every Territorian, if you can, stay here in the Territory. You’re safe here, don’t go.

“If you can, cancel your Christmas holiday plans, stay here in the Northern Territory.”

The Chief Minister said the state is recruiting extra police to keep hard border controls in place, and extra health staff to help with screening at the airport.

Mr Gunner said the decision to maintain hard borders was made to protect the state’s vulnerable remote indigenous population.

“Territorians first. This is what I think I need to do to make sure some of the most vulnerable people in the world stay safe,” he said.

“I‘m not taking risks here. Your life comes first. This is the Territory-first test. If you’re as safe as us, you’re welcome in.

“If you’re not, sorry, we’re closed to you.”

More to come.

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Australian News

promising vaccine COVAX-19 could be ready in ‘three or four months’

Adelaide scientists have been working overtime on a new vaccine which has already shown promising results after clearing its first phase of human trials.

The drug named COVAX-19 was trialled on 40 volunteers earlier this month.

The vaccine is showing promising signs it “could actually save lives”, the developers of the vaccine said, who also predict it could safely be used in humans immediately.

In fact, vaccine developer Professor Nikolai Petrovsky claims there’s no reason it can’t be used in Victorian aged care homes now.

“We have something that we believe already has shown it can potentially save lives,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“The data suggests it’s highly effective, we just need to finish the clinical trial programs and then seek approval for it.

RELATED: Follow all the latest coronavirus news

Appearing on Sunrise, Professor Nikolai Petrovsky described the update as “very exciting”.

“Safety data from the clinical trials shows the vaccine isn’t showing any problems at all and is inducing the right type of immune response,” he said.

Dr Petrovsky said the vaccine had been shown to produce “very strong” antibodies which kill coronavirus in monkeys, ferrets and mice, and had been proven to induce an antibody response in humans.

While the Australian government “knocked back” Dr Petrovsky’s request for help funding the trial, he said he’s already negotiating with the Canadian and UK governments for funding.

RELATED: Russia claims vaccine approval on track for August

Phase two trials for COVAX-19 (with 400-500 volunteers) are scheduled to begin in September.

“Now we do much bigger clinical trials in a larger number of individuals to prove the vaccine is working,” Dr Petrovsky added.

The final trial (involving 50,000 volunteers) is the final stage before the vaccine would be made available to the public.

If all goes well, Dr Petrovsky says the drug could be available to everyone within “three or four months”.

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Local News - Victoria

Boy, 15, charged with murder repeatedly freed from custody in months before killing

“[The 15-year-old] was arrested nine times in the year before he allegedly murdered another teen at St Albans in December,” one officer said.


“He was remanded on four of those occasions and bailed by the court.”

The teen, who cannot be named due to his age, and 20 other warring current and former alleged Blood Drill Kill members, allegedly armed themselves with sticks and fence posts before meeting at the Keilor Plains train station at St Albans, under the guise of handing back a car, three days before Christmas last year.

There, 17-year-old Aguer Akech was stabbed and died at the scene after trying to flee on foot across train lines.

Last week, his alleged attacker was charged with murder following a five-month homicide investigation.

But police sources say between the deadly fight and being identified as the alleged killer, the 15-year-old was arrested a further six times for other crimes across the western suburbs including robbery, burglary, assault, theft and bail offences.

Police sources said youth gangs in the west were actively recruiting young members to commit violent crimes including car thefts, carjackings, brawls, swarming thefts and home invasions.

Aguer Akech died at the scene.

Aguer Akech died at the scene.

According to those working in the community, Apex and Menace To Society are largely inactive due to gang members reaching 18 years of age, so the Sunshine and St Albans-affiliated BDK are now dominating the streets with more than 100 juvenile members.

Other prevalent groups include BDK’s younger offshoots in Tarneit, the SSO (Squad Shit Only) and BBG (Black Belly Gang), and the Werribee-based Brotherhood.

“Many are the younger brothers of former MTS members rising up in the ranks,” they said.

Late last month, more than a dozen youths from across the west were arrested following an organised brawl involving more than 30 people in a car park on Derrimut Road in Hoppers Crossing. The May 23 melee, allegedly caused by rising tensions between the Brotherhood and BBG, led to a 17-year-old being hospitalised with serious stab wounds.

A 13-year-old boy was among those arrested over the affray.

Police sources and youth advocates fear the state’s education system is letting down many immigrant children who find themselves assigned a class due to their age and not their levels of education.

Many, they say, are left feeling isolated and ashamed, and are instead lured to gang culture through the Hollywood version of “thug life”.

“Disengaged young males are finding it easier to go down that path, copying this Hollywood idea of gang life, thinking they’ll go on to produce rap music,” one officer said.

“We’ve got young males, 12 and 13, being put into Year 7 after arriving in Australia with no real education. They feel stupid and don’t feel like they belong and succumb to the lure of what they think will be fun and money in a gang.”

Education advocate and executive director of Youth Activating Youth, Ahmed Hassan, said it was vital communities worked with the Education Department to give young people the best chance to succeed.

Ahmed Hassan, right, from Youth activating Youth.

Ahmed Hassan, right, from Youth activating Youth. Credit:Joe Armao.

“A lot of kids don’t feel supported at school and don’t want to be part of that environment because they feel like they’re not going to succeed. And they drop out to save themselves the embarrassment of feeling like they don’t fit in,” he said.

“Schools need to have culturally appropriate measures in place or staff who understand these kids’ individual challenges because there are a lot of families with language barriers who don’t understand the school curriculum.

“Education has a big part in ensuring kids continue on a positive pathway and a lot of young people are needing support.”

A Victoria Police spokesperson said youth crime was always a concern to police, with specialist investigative units such as Wayward Taskforce tasked with disrupting offending and dismantling the networks.

“The community can be assured that Victoria Police’s priority is making sure people are safe and feel safe,” they said.

Anyone who witnesses criminal or anti-social behaviour, or are concerned for their safety, is urged to contact Triple Zero (000) for an immediate police attendance.

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Young soccer player settles legal case after months of unpaid ‘trial’


“Workplaces within sporting clubs can be challenging and need to be incredibly robust to work successfully,” he said. “It is often an environment with heightened stress, heightened anxiety and relentless competition that tests people’s emotions every day.”

Didulica said there was competition within teams for positions and also against opponents but clubs needed to do better to “ensure staff and players have the right support”.

“Similarly, clubs should be putting the right structures and oversight in place to ensure they are complying with their own obligations as employers – but the tendency is to skew the other way.”

The Central Coast Mariners declined to comment on the confidential settlement with Moric. They’d previously expressed surprise at it and claimed it was “without merit” and said Moric had never been engaged as a professional player.

Moric could not comment on the settlement but previously told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that how he had been treated had left him deeply depressed.

He said during the lengthy unpaid trial he had been repeatedly told he would receive a professional contract.

“As a young person, I am now in a situation where I have to give up all my hard work as a junior and stabilise myself outside of football before worrying about improving my game,” he said previously.

“I am taking action to not only put a stop to the clubs using young players around the country but to give myself some sense of relief that I have not done anything wrong.”

The legal action had been regarded by workplace law experts as an important test case on the legality of unpaid trials and internships in Australia.


But the case being settled means those issues will not be decided in the Federal Circuit Court. Workplace law expert Andrew Stewart has written major reports for the government on unpaid work and said it is increasingly common across the labour market.

Research by Professor Stewart in 2016 found 58 per cent of people aged 18 to 29 had done unpaid work in the previous five years with much of it legally questionable.

“It’s a grey area because of the lack of clear case law,” he said last December of Moric’s claim.

Besides the Western United case – which involves allegations of bullying towards a former team manager – another professional club Macarthur FC has a $200,000 damages claim against it.

The club – which will enter the A-League next season – was accused in a court case of discriminating against a senior executive due to his caring responsibilities. Both clubs have denied the allegations.

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Victim shares heartbreaking post six months on

Stephanie Browitt relives her “worst nightmare” on the 9th of each month.

That was the day her life changed forever and she lost half her family when the White Island volcano erupted in New Zealand.

The 23-year-old, who finally returned to her Melbourne home last month, suffered third-degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and lost parts of her fingers in the eruption off the coast of Whakatāne on December 9.

She was one of 38 people on the island, along with her father Paul and 21-year-old sister Krystal, who both died.

Ms Browitt’s mother Marie had remained on board the cruise ship the family had been on.

Now six months on Ms Browitt has shared what her pain is like.

“Honestly, every time it’s the 9th of each month I can feel my heart racing and my body tense as the memory of it floods back in my mind,” she wrote on Instagram alongside a photo from the volcano.

“I get anxious. I hate it so much, it does not get easier.

“It just hurts more and more when I think about how much time has passed since I was last with my dad and sister.”

Ms Browitt said it felt like the tragedy happened just yesterday.

“I keep wishing I could go back in time and have looked for them in the mess so I could’ve sat with them, been with them,” she continued.

“My heart hurts and aches for them everyday.

“Time feels weird now. I just hope every other victim and myself ‘manage’, because that’s all we can do.

“We’re just picking up the pieces of our new lives and doing the best that we can do.

“I just want to thank everyone for your kindness, compassion and constant support. You guys manage to put a smile on my face, even if just for a second.”

Ms Browitt was welcomed home by a crowd of people last month but could only hug her mum because of her fragile skin.

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Local News - Victoria

As months of 24/7 Upfield line works loom, residents still want answers

“We had basic design tweaks that could have solved lots of problems and they completely ignored us,” Mr Conlan said.

Commuters will be able to access stations via a raised crossing at Reynard Street and will be given traffic light priority at Munro Street, but calls from the resident group for this to be rolled out at Moreland Road and Bell Street were not met.

“It’s the ‘Upfield Wave’ — when the boom gates are down and people can ride their bikes and walk across the crossings … but if you remove these crossings and don’t provide priority for bikes and pedestrians, they will be disadvantaged by the project,” Mr Conlan said.

He said moving Moreland station further south so it straddled Moreland Road would have improved access to the station, a nearby bus interchange and tram stop and saved 100 trees from being felled at Gandolfo Gardens, but this option proposed by residents was also ignored.

The $542.4 million project will deliver improvements for cyclists by widening the popular Upfield bike path, separating cyclists and pedestrians between Moreland Road and Bell Street.

It will also create 2.5 kilometres of parkland and open space in a part of Melbourne crying out for more greenery.

But residents say they have seen only indicative designs and don’t even know how high the rail line will be, despite works starting within months.

Rob Hoffman and his son, Harry, pose for a photo outside their Coburg home.

Rob Hoffman and his son, Harry, pose for a photo outside their Coburg home.Credit:Darrian Traynor

Level Crossing Removal Project staff promised to provide virtual reality goggles so they could stand in front of the site and see the designs, but this never occurred.

“The plans don’t show enough detail,” Mr Conlan said. “They’re vague renders, pastel-coloured things with nothing identified.”

Resident Rob Hoffman supports the sky rail project and said the creation of more parkland is why he bought his property beside the rail line in 2018.

But Mr Hoffman, who is among residents of 300 properties being relocated during the works, said the extent of the works was not disclosed early on, and he has had to chase up staff at the agency “every step of the way” about his relocation, with calls and emails sometimes not returned for a week.

Anger over the Upfield line works comes as Kingsville residents enduring overnight works for the West Gate Tunnel say their lives have been turned upside down by the deafening pounding.

The West Gate Tunnel Project didn’t offer Julie Richards the option of relocating despite her property being 150 metres away from loud hydro-blasting overnight works throughout April and the first half of May, which sounded like a “seismic boom”, she said.

The project moved Ms Richards to a hotel for a few nights, but only after she complained. When she returned home, she was offered a white noise machine, but she said it sounded like a jack hammer.

“It’s like a Utopia episode,” Ms Richards said, noting this has added to the stress of working from home during COVID-19. “If we weren’t in a pandemic it would be comical.”

A West Gate Tunnel Project  spokeswoman said the reduction in cars on the road meant the project could change the works, starting later and finishing earlier in the evening.

“In addition, we have offered respite options, including temporary relocation, which a number of households have taken up.”

The project director at the Level Crossing Removal Project, Matt Thorpe, said the agency was working closely with the community on the Upfield line upgrades.

“We have a dedicated team working with local residents to make sure we’re offering respite and relocation based on their needs and requirements.”

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Local News - Victoria

Cold front batters Victoria, city gets more rain in four months than 2019 total


Meanwhile a strong cold front has whipped up damaging winds and heavy rain in Victoria’s north-east, with the potential for flash flooding.

A severe weather warning is in place for the North East, parts of East Gippsland, North Central and the West and South Gippsland forecast districts.

Falls Creek has already had 113mm of rain between 10pm Tuesday and 11am Wednesday, with the weather warning in place for the rest of the day.

“It’s still raining there of course,” Mr Halfpenny said.

The Bureau of Meteorology is expecting another 50 to 80 millimetres until midnight in the warning area, with most of that rain to fall over a four-hour period as the front crosses the state.

Damaging winds with 100km/h gusts were also hitting elevated areas on Wednesday. Mount Hotham recorded a 107km/h gust overnight, while Mount Buller was hit with a 94km/h gust.

Heavy rain is expected to ease by the late morning before redeveloping in the late afternoon and continuing into the evening for the severe warning areas.

Towns hit by this summer’s horror bushfire season also face the risk of landslips on Wednesday, especially in the north-east.


A flood watch is in place for parts of central and eastern Victoria.

Melbourne is expected to get another round of heavy rain from the early afternoon, probably from around 1pm. The city is expecting between 15 to 20mm of rain, while the outer eastern suburbs could get daily totals of up to 30mm.

A spokesman for the State Emergency Service said there had been 49 calls for help in the 24 hours to 11.20am, 30 of which were in the prior six hours. He said it was expecting a rush of requests for assistance starting from late Wednesday, ahead of a “wet and miserable three days”.

Heavy rain is expected to clear by the early hours of Thursday morning, but the front will leave a “vigorous” cold south-westerly wind and a few showers.

“We’re in for a period of quite cold windy weather,” Mr Halfpenny said.

Melbourne could have its coldest April day in almost 25 years on Thursday, with a top of just 13 degrees forecast.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the forecast would make it the coldest April day since 1996, but it would feel even colder due to the winds. Friday is also forecast to be 13 degrees, but that is less unusual for May.

Mr Halfpenny said most of the state had received above average rainfall this year, particularly through the central corridor, which includes Melbourne.

Though he couldn’t say if the rain totals spelled the end of the drought, Mr Halfpenny said NSW has had “way above average rain” and it had made a “significant dent”.

Shepparton has recorded around 10 times as much rain this year as it had by the same time in 2019. So far, the northern Victorian city has had 204mm compared to 24mm by the end of April last year.

Alisha Bennett and three of her four children - Ava, 12, Lukas, 11, and Arabella, 5. They are waiting to have their heating fixed.

Alisha Bennett and three of her four children – Ava, 12, Lukas, 11, and Arabella, 5. They are waiting to have their heating fixed.Credit:Eddie Jim


“There’s a huge discrepancy there,” Mr Halfpenny said.

The change of seasons may be uncomfortable for people caught unprepared. Alisha Bennett and her four children turned on the heater in their Deer Park rental home for the first time last week and felt nothing.

“Our landlord says they’ll have it fixed as soon as possible – hopefully on Wednesday, because we’re bloody freezing already,” Ms Bennett said.

“Foxtel and Netflix will be our best friend, I think.”

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has told the State Emergency Service people can shelter with family, friends or at relief centres, despite the coronavirus social distancing restrictions, if the weather damages their homes.

with Anthony Colangelo and Michael Fowler

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Some coronavirus patients are still testing positive months later and experts are not sure why


April 23, 2020 19:11:40

Dressed in a hazmat suit, two masks and a face shield, Du Mingjun knocked on the mahogany door of a flat in a suburban district of Wuhan.

Key points:

  • Doctors in Wuhan say there are growing numbers of cases in which people recover from the virus but continue to test positive
  • In South Korea, about 1,000 people have been testing positive for four weeks or more
  • In Italy, health officials noticed that coronavirus patients could test positive for the virus for about a month

A man wearing a single mask opened the door a crack and, after Ms Du introduced herself as a psychological counsellor, burst into tears.

“I really can’t take it anymore,” he said.

Diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in early February, the man, who appeared to be in his 50s, had been treated at two hospitals before being transferred to a quarantine centre set up in a cluster of apartment blocks in an industrial part of Wuhan.

Why, he asked, did tests say he still had the virus more than two months after he first contracted it?

The answer to that question is a mystery baffling doctors on the frontline of China’s battle against COVID-19, even as it has successfully slowed the spread of the coronavirus across the country.

Patients testing positive with no symptoms

Chinese doctors in Wuhan say the growing number of cases in which people recover from the virus, but continue to test positive without showing symptoms, is one of their biggest challenges.

Those patients all tested negative for the virus at some point after recovering, but then tested positive again, some up to 70 days later, the doctors said. Many have done so over 50-60 days.

In South Korea, about 1,000 people have been testing positive for four weeks or more. In Italy, the first European country ravaged by the pandemic, health officials noticed that coronavirus patients could test positive for the virus for about a month.

The prospect of people remaining positive for the virus, and therefore potentially infectious, is of international concern, as many countries seek to end lockdowns and resume economic activity as the spread of the virus slows. Currently, the globally recommended isolation period after exposure is 14 days.

China has not published precise figures for how many patients fall into this category. But disclosures by Chinese hospitals to Reuters, as well as in other media reports, indicate there are at least dozens of such cases.

With less than four months of data, questions about immunity, especially in the long term, are difficult to answer.

But most experts agree these cases do not represent reinfections and are more likely to reflect the imperfect nature of testing.

As there is limited knowledge available on how infectious these patients are, doctors in Wuhan are keeping them isolated for longer.

Zhang Dingyu, president of Jinyintan Hospital, said health officials recognised the isolations may be excessive, especially if patients proved not to be infectious. But, for now, it was better to do so to protect the public, he said.

He described the issue as one of the most pressing facing the hospital and said counsellors like Ms Du are being brought in to help ease the emotional strain.

“When patients have this pressure, it also weighs on society,” he said.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Positive retesting not seen in 2003 SARS outbreak

The plight of Wuhan’s long-term patients underlines how much remains unknown about COVID-19 and why it appears to affect different people in numerous ways, Chinese doctors say.

Yuan Yufeng, a vice-president at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, told Reuters he was aware of a case in which the patient had positive retests after first being diagnosed with the virus about 70 days earlier.

“We did not see anything like this during SARS,” he said, referring to the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak that infected 8,098 people globally, mostly in China.

Wang Guiqiang, director of the infectious disease department of Peking University First Hospital, said the majority of such patients were not showing symptoms and very few had seen their conditions worsen.

Possible links to weak immune systems

Experts and doctors struggle to explain why the virus behaves so differently in these people.

Some suggest that patients retesting as positive after previously testing negative were somehow reinfected with the virus.

This would undermine hopes that people catching COVID-19 would produce antibodies that would prevent them from getting sick again from the virus.

Zhao Yan, a doctor of emergency medicine at Wuhan’s Zhongnan Hospital, said he was sceptical about the possibility of reinfection based on cases at his facility, although he did not have hard evidence.

“They’re closely monitored in the hospital and are aware of the risks, so they stay in quarantine. So I’m sure they were not reinfected,” he said.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, previously said the virus may have been “reactivated” in 91 South Korean patients who tested positive after having been thought to be cleared of it.

Other South Korean and Chinese experts have said that remnants of the virus could have stayed in patients’ systems but not be infectious or dangerous to the host or others.

Few details have been disclosed about these patients, such as if they have underlying health conditions.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Paul Hunter, a professor at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich School of Medicine, said an unusually slow shedding of other viruses such as norovirus or influenza had been previously seen in patients with weakened immune systems.

In 2015, South Korean authorities disclosed they had a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome patient stricken with lymphoma who showed signs of the virus for 116 days. They said his impaired immune system kept his body from ridding itself of the virus. The lymphoma eventually caused his death.

The mental toll of COVID-19

As could be seen in Wuhan, the virus can also inflict a heavy mental toll on those caught in a seemingly endless cycle of positive tests.

Ms Du, who set up a therapy hotline when Wuhan’s outbreak first began, allowed Reuters in early April to join her on a visit to the suburban quarantine centre on the condition that none of the patients be identified.

One man rattled off the names of three Wuhan hospitals he had stayed at before being moved to a flat in the centre. He had taken over 10 tests since the third week of February, he said, on occasions testing negative but mostly positive.

“I feel fine and have no symptoms, but they check and it’s positive, check and it’s positive,” he said. “What is with this virus?”

Patients need to stay at the centre for at least 28 days and obtain two negative results before being allowed to leave. Patients are isolated in individual rooms they said were paid for by the government.

The most concerning case facing Ms Du during the visit was the man behind the mahogany door; he had told medical workers the night before that he wanted to kill himself.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly,” he told Ms Du, explaining how he had already taken numerous CT scans and nucleic acid tests, some of which tested negative, at different hospitals. He worried that he had been reinfected as he cycled through various hospitals.

His grandson missed him after being gone for so long, he said, and he worried his condition meant he would never be able to see him again.

He broke into another round of sobs. “Why is this happening to me?”

What you need to know about coronavirus:











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Bangladesh rescues hundreds of Rohingya drifting at sea for nearly two months | World news

At least 30 Rohingya refugees died at sea, and almost 400 were rescued from a boat which had been adrift for over two months as they attempted to sail to safety in Malaysia, survivors have reported.

The 396 surviving refugees, who were mostly women and children, had set sail in a fishing trawler from the camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh in mid-February.

The refugee camp, one of the largest in the world, is home to over a million Rohingya who fled over the border from Myanmar, starting in August 2017, following a brutal army crackdown that the UN has described both as ethnic cleaning and akin to genocide.

Mohammad, a 40-year-old refugee who was among those rescued from the boat with his three family members, described the horror of being on the ship for 58 days. He said they had reached Malaysia, but been turned away.

“Within a week or 10 days after setting sail we reached close to Malaysia,” Mohammad told the Guardian from the quarantine centre where he was being held. “But the Malaysian coast guard stopped our trawler. They would not let us get closer to the land. Our boatmen made several attempts to bypass the coast guard patrol and reach the shore. But, all attempts by our boatmen failed. We knew that because of the coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia the authorities became unusually strict and did not allow us to land there.”

He said the boat had lingered close to the Malaysian shore for several days to try to sneak ashore, but without success, and turned back for Bangladesh.

“We ran short of food and water,” said Mohammad. “Many children and women were crying. Around 30 people on the boat died because of getting no food and water and and we all started losing hope as the bodies of other refugees had to be thrown into the sea.”

It took the coastguard three days to locate the boat in the Bay of Bengal after a tip-off. According to the coastguard, there were 182 women, 150 men and 64 children rescued from the boat who were severely malnourished, dehydrated and could barely walk when they landed. “They were at sea for about two months and were starving,” said Bangladesh coastguard spokesman Lieutenant Shah Zia Rahman.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed in a statement that “around 30 or more refugees may have passed away at sea as the boat ran out of food, water and fuel during a nearly two months long journey at sea.”

The rescued Rohingya were brought back to Cox’s bazar, where they were placed in quarantine to ensure they did not bring Covid-19 into the camps, a huge concern among authorities and NGOs. While there are still no reported cases in Cox’s, there is a fear that if it takes hold in the squalid, cramped camps where up to ten people live in a huts with no running water and where there are limited healthcare facilities and no ventilators, the spread will be uncontrollable and it will be difficult to treat.

“We have cordoned off the place where they have landed,” said Rahman. “We could not question them because of the fear they could be infected with the coronavirus.”

This was one of at least three boats carrying hundreds of Rohingya that have been rescued during an attempt to reach Malaysia. In early April, a boat was intercepted off the coast of the Malaysian island of Langkawi, carrying around 200 Rohingya, mainly women and children.

Noor Hossain, a Rohingya community leader from Balukhali refugee camp, said there was increasing desperation in the camps, as stricter lockdowns were imposed including a recent block on movement and mobile internet, which was enticing more refugees to reach out to traffickers to help them escape in search of a better life. Malaysia, which is a Muslim-majority country and has a large Rohingya community, is a popular destination.

“Many young and ambitious Rohingya refugees feel that in Bangladesh they face a grim future,” said Hossain. “In recent times, after the Bangladesh government imposed more restrictions on the Rohingyas and planned to relocate some of them to a dangerous uninhabited island [Bhasan Char], more and more Rohingya are willing to flee Bangladesh.”

Hossain said that it was also big business for traffickers and agents to traffic Rohingya women from the Cox’s Bazar camps, so they could be wives for Rohingya men already settled in Malaysia.

“Rohingya families can’t see an end to their plight and are increasingly willing to risk death or injury by making perilous journeys at sea in overcrowded, unsafe boats – often at the mercy of traffickers and criminal organisations – all for a chance at a better life,” said Athena Rayburn of Save the Children.

Amnesty International’s Biraj Patnaik said: “Having first fled crimes against humanity in Myanmar and then being turned away by Malaysia, they have nowhere left to go – a fact that is harrowingly demonstrated by the callous indifference of other governments that refuse to give them sanctuary.”

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Australia coronavirus live news: Ruby Princess investigation to take six months as unemployment expected to reach 10% – latest updates | World news

New Zealand has also released its treasury modelling.

A raft of treasury modelling released on Tuesday shows a wide range of possible outcomes for the South Pacific nation, which is almost three weeks into a country-wide shutdown to fight the spread of Covid-19.

The modelling suggests the Kiwi economy, as a whole, will not recover coronavirus-induced losses until 2024.

But for now, the New Zealand government remains focused on minimising job losses and is preparing further fiscal stimulus to assist with that aim.

It has currently spent around $21bn by boosting spending on wage subsidies, welfare payments, tax subsidies, injections into the health system and more.

With a further $19bn of targeted fiscal support, the modelling shows New Zealand’s unemployment figure peaking at 8.5% in the June quarter of this year, falling back to 5.5% next year.

The official unemployment rate prior to the pandemic arriving in New Zealand was 4%.

Treasury secretary Caralee McLiesh said GDP growth could fall by as little as 0.5% this year or as much as 23.5%.

The forecasts rely on New Zealand being able to loosen the screws of its severe lockdown next week, as hoped, and spend another month in a lessened lockdown.

The best case scenario relies on borders being closed to foreign visitors “for up to 12 months”, but otherwise New Zealand can return to something close to normalcy.

On release of the figures, finance minister Grant Robertson admitted much of New Zealand’s prosperity was out of his control.

“This global pandemic is dramatically affecting countries and their economies around the world,” he said.

“We are seeing dire forecasts for global growth and unemployment levels rising rapidly in many countries. As an open, export-led economy, New Zealand will feel these global effects for some time to come.”

But he maintained New Zealand was well placed to fight the worst effects of the pandemic “due to our strong public health system, low debt and growing economy”.

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