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Local News - Victoria

Elective surgery resumes amid warning over post-op complications


Professor David Story, of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, said he was concerned about elective surgery patients battling chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, who might have delayed seeing GPs and specialists.

“Our concern is a lot of the patients who are now coming in are often a bit older and often have diseases, which may have worsened because there have been delays in diagnosis or getting their surgery,” he said.

“Some of the flow-on effects for this may be greater need for unplanned critical care admissions, so more ICU admissions post-surgery. We still expect relatively small numbers, but it might mean there are more medical emergency team calls and re-admissions of patients with complications.”

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Victoria recorded 42 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday as Melbourne’s crucial 14-day case average fell below 50 for the first time since the second wave peaked, and the number of active cases dropped below 1000 for the first time in months.

The Premier has set an ambitious goal of 18,750 additional elective surgeries across private and public hospitals in October, and an extra 10,500 surgeries in November.

Elective procedures will go up from 50 per cent to 75 per cent of usual surgeries from Thursday as part of eased restrictions in country Victoria. In Melbourne, that is likely to increase to 75 per cent from September 28.

Mr Andrews said regional Victoria would increase to 85 per cent capacity by September 28 before going back to a normal elective surgery schedule by late October.

In Melbourne, as long as road map targets are met, surgery capacity will scale up to 85 per cent late in October with the introduction of stage two restrictions.

The announcement came as Victoria’s total active cases of coronavirus dropped to 991.

“That is very, very significant – it’s been a long time since we’ve had less than 1000 active cases,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said every patient would be tested for coronavirus before scheduled elective surgery. However, he said it was not always possible to screen patients for COVID-19 when they needed emergency surgery. “Obviously, in some situations that is not always possible. People come in and need to be operated on immediately.”

Professor Story said stringent screening of patients for coronavirus before and after surgery was critical, amid growing global evidence those infected with the virus were at heightened risk of dying or complications.

“We are concerned about patients who may have coronavirus, but we have really good testing and screening happening for that at the moment,” the medical college’s safety and quality committee chair said.

“The really important thing is that it is gradually increased so it can be closely monitored and that it is done on the basis of need for patients.”

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A major global study of more than 1000 elective surgery patients, including those who underwent minor procedures, across 24 countries between January 1 and March 31 found the death rate for patients with COVID-19 was almost 19 per cent.

Between 5 and 10 per cent of patients experience complications post-operatively, but Professor Story predicts this will rise as a result of the pandemic.

The announcement was also welcomed by Australian Dental Association Victoria chief executive officer Matthew Hopcraft who said dentists had been inundated by patients presenting for emergency treatment for broken teeth, swollen gums and infected wisdom teeth.

“The main thing is being able to give certainty to patients around when they can receive treatment,” Professor Hopcraft said. “The delays in treatment have caused a lot of angst among dentists and patients who have had their treatment delayed on and off since March.”

Among them is Jennifer Dorell, who has been anxiously waiting for upper and lower jaw surgery to fix an overbite so she could get her braces off this year.

Ms Dorell was scheduled to have her jaw surgery in April, but it was cancelled as coronavirus infections soared.

“I am very over it,” she said. “Anyone who has had braces knows how they cut into your gums and the pain you get with them as well. The uncertainty has been really difficult.”

Ms Dorell expects she will still have to wait up to six months to have her surgery.

“They will likely put patients needing more urgent care ahead of me, which I completely understand,” she said. “I will have to keep my braces for another six months after surgery. That will mean I will have had my braces for almost five years. It has all been pretty disheartening.”

Melbourne man Terry Brown underwent a hip replacement earlier this year, but his rehabilitation has been hindered while he awaits a knee surgery.

“My recovery has plateaued at the moment because both my knees are gone,” the 65-year-old Pascoe Vale man said.

“One of them is really bad and causes me a lot of pain. It makes your life very difficult because you don’t sleep well because of the pain. I try to walk every day, but I come home and my knees are killing me after that.”

Mr Brown is hopeful the resumption of elective surgeries will mean he is able to get his left knee replaced before Christmas.

“It is a big relief,” he said.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said anyone awaiting category two or three surgery could have their case reviewed to determine their priority.

She dismissed claims by the state opposition that the number of patients waiting had ballooned to more than 100,000 as “made up”.

Category two surgeries are procedures that need to happen within 90 days and that cause pain or disability, but are unlikely to escalate to an emergency. This could be something like a standard heart valve replacement. Category three surgeries include procedures such as hysterectomies and hip and knee replacements.

Australian Medical Association Victorian vice-president Roderick McRae said the process must be monitored closely and regularly audited.

“Broadly we are supportive of a staged increase of medical and dental procedures, but it needs to be a slow and sensible ramp up of work,” Dr McRae said.

He added said the resumption of elective surgery must not impede on public hospital capacity to deal with respiratory emergencies.

“The key is we need to keep an operational eye on everything that’s going on,” he said. “If there is a sudden outbreak, then we need to be able to jump on that in a targeted way that does not mean shutting down Victoria.”

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Local News - Victoria

Victoria records 240 new cases, 13 deaths as hotel quarantine inquiry resumes, NSW tracing mystery cases, Australia death toll jumps to 463


In a statement released late on Wednesday night, Peninsula Health, which oversees the running of Frankston Hospital, confirmed 40 nursing staff, four doctors, five support staff members and two Allied Health employees have so far tested positive to COVID-19.

“We were alerted to an increased number of staff cases at Frankston Hospital on Sunday, and immediately responded by calling in external experts to support our response,” Peninsula Health chief executive Felicity Topp said.

“We immediately closed a number of wards to admissions and all potentially affected staff and patients were tested. We also started contact tracing to identify anyone else who may have come into contact with an infected person. This process is currently in the final stages.”

Ms Topp said Frankston Hospital had admitted an increasing number of coronavirus patients in recent weeks and the cause of the outbreak was still under investigation.

Health sources said a patient may have unknowingly brought the virus into a general ward, but Peninsula Health have not confirmed this.

“We are still investigating if these cases are the result of increased community transmission of the virus, or if it has been acquired through the hospital,” Ms Topp said.

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Australian News

AFL journalist Mitch Cleary resumes job after being stood down for tweeting photo of Brooke Cotchin’s COVID-19 breach



Journalist Mitch Cleary’s job has been reinstated by AFL Media after he was stood down for tweeting an image of the since-deleted Brooke Cotchin Instagram post which ended up earning Richmond a $45,000 fine.

The Instagram post, made by Richmond captain Trent Cotchin’s wife, showed a day spa which Brooke Cotchin attended for a facial — a breach of the AFL’s COVID-19 protocols for family members who are living in Queensland hubs. $25,000 of the fine has been suspended.

Cleary, who also works for ABC Grandstand, was due to work for AFL.com.au at the weekend but was stood down on Friday.

The AFL released a statement this afternoon saying it made the decision because Cleary had failed to follow editorial advice.

But it said Cleary had returned to work with AFL Media this afternoon.

“Last week, AFL Media (afl.com.au) made an editorial decision to not name any family members relating to the recent club breaches of the Return to Play protocols,” the statement read.

“The reasoning behind this decision was to protect the wellbeing of all individuals involved, a message that was reiterated in the official AFL Media Statement on Friday afternoon.

“Mitch mistakenly did not follow his department’s editorial decision and named a family member on his own personal Twitter channel on Friday evening.

“Upon speaking to his editor and then realising his tweet was at odds with AFL Media’s editorial decision, Mitch immediately removed his tweet and has acknowledged it was a mistake on his behalf.

“The matter has now been resolved internally, with Mitch today co-hosting the weekly show AFL Exchange on afl.com.au.”

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Earlier, Brooke Cotchin said she disagreed with the AFL’s decision to stand Cleary down.

“I don’t know Mitch Cleary, but I do not agree with him being stood down and I have voiced that to the AFL,” she posted on social media.

“It is his job and it does not help anyone’s situation especially in current circumstances. Unfortunately I had no input and it is something that is out of my control.”

She also revealed she and her husband would pay the fine and not Richmond football club.

“This was my mistake which I accept total responsibility for,” she wrote.

The AFL’s decision to stand Cleary down had sparked a media storm.

Cleary began to trend on Twitter after the story appeared in the Herald Sun on Sunday night. Former Melbourne footballer Brad Green labelled the AFL “bullies”.

“The AFL is a laughing stock, bullies,” Green tweeted.

Collingwood football legend Tony Shaw publicly asked the AFL’s chief executive Gillon McLachlan to reverse his decision.

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Collingwood President Eddie McGuire also weighed in on his Triple M breakfast show on Monday morning.

“They have no problem telling us they’re independent when they’re shredding players, clubs and officials,” he said.

“This is going to have some ramifications down the track on what the AFL Media department is all about.”



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Australian News

NBA resumes season with Black Lives Matter at forefront as LeBron James’s Lakers hold off Clippers


The NBA has officially returned to action after months dormant due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Black Lives Matters movement taking centre stage.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz had the honour of relaunching the season, the rest of which will be in a “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

That game was followed by a blockbuster between two western conference title fancies, the LA Lakers and LA Clippers, featuring superstars LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.

The Jazz got the first victory after the season’s resumption thanks to game-winning free throws by centre Rudy Gobert, whose coronavirus diagnosis sparked the shutdown, before James’s Lakers held off the Clippers 103-101.

LeBron James has his mouth open as he slams the ball through the hoop, jumping above a number of other players
LeBron James made big plays at both ends to clinch victory for the Lakers.(AP: Mike Ehrman)

The NBA dramatically shut down play on March 11, with a match between the Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder called off at the last minute — fans were already in their seats.

Since then, the league has grappled with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Before both of Friday’s (AEST) games, all players, coaches and staff members of the teams, along with all officials, kneeled during the national anthem.

Players wore shirts reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER”, which was also printed on the court.

Some players also sported pre-approved slogans or names on the back of their playing strips in place of their surnames.

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Many locked arms with those next to them, while some raised fists in the air, including James.

Once the game started, the game’s biggest star struggled from the field, shooting 6/19, but still managed 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the Lakers’ one-possession win over the Clippers.

His high-profile teammate, Anthony Davis, banked 34 points and eight rebounds as the Lakers won a back-and-forth showdown with their crosstown rivals.

The Clippers’ superstar recruits, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, combined for 58 points, but George missed the potential game-winning three-pointer with James in his face as the siren sounded.

In the first match back, the Jazz defeated the Pelicans 106-104 as Gobert made two free throws with 6.9 seconds left to clinch the win.

The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram missed a 3-pointer with one second left, completing a fourth quarter in which the Jazz outscored the Pelicans 27-17.

Four Pelicans players surround one to help him off the floor. One player has "SAY HER NAME" on the back of his jersey
Players were permitted to have pre-approved slogans on their jerseys in lieu of their names.(AP: Ashley Landis)

On the court, Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to lead Utah with 23 points. Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell added 20 each, Gobert had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Aussie Joe Ingles scored 13, while young Pelicans star Zion Williamson scored 13 points on limited game time. Ingham led the scoring with 23 points.

Williamson played 15 minutes as he works his way back to full fitness after being quarantined following a trip out of the bubble due to a family situation.

New Orleans Pelicans players kneel on the side of the court, arm in arm. They are wearing shirts that read "BLACK LIVES MATTER"
Players took a knee during the national anthem.(AP/Orlando Sentinel: Charles King)

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Australian News

A-League season resumes after coronavirus shutdown as Sydney FC defeats Wellington Phoenix 3-1



A double to substitute Trent Buhagiar has almost certainly guaranteed Sydney FC a record fourth Premiers’ Plate, as the Sky Blues celebrated the return of the A-League with a 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix.

The win in front of 1,796 spectators at Kogarah’s Jubilee Oval — in the first A-League match since the competition shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic in March — lifted the Sky Blues 11 points clear of second-placed Melbourne City.

They are 15 points ahead of the third-placed Phoenix, who would need to win all of their five remaining matches to have any hope of denying the Sky Blues the Premiers’ Plate.

Pacy Buhagiar broke clear of the Phoenix defence in the 88th and 90th minutes to seal the win for the Sky Blues, who had trailed 1-0 earlier in the match.

Buhagiar, who did not play in the A-League last season after undergoing a knee reconstruction, charged clear of the defence to score his first and put the home side ahead.

He sprinted away and rounded Stefan Marinovic and precisely beat a defender on the line to score his second.

Rene Piscopo scored first for the Phoenix from a 66th-minute penalty awarded after Ryan McGowan fouled Liberato Cacace.

Adam Le Fondre converted a 76th-minute penalty to equalise for the Sky Blues after the ball bounced up and hit Phoenix substitute Ulises Davila on the arm.

Davila thought he had put Phoenix ahead in the 84th minute, but his shot deflected off Gary Hooper, who was ruled to have been in an offside position.

Englishman Le Fondre’s 18th goal of the season put him level with Melbourne City marksman Jamie Maclaren in the race for the Golden Boot.

Both teams played some neat football in difficult conditions on a greasy pitch, with rain falling throughout the match.

Each team had a handball appeal turned down, with Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay coming onto the pitch at half-time to talk to referee Chris Beath, presumably seeking clarification.

Football Federation Australia has opted not to use VAR for the remaining A-League home-and-away matches.

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Australian News

Danish football resumes after coronavirus shutdown in empty stadiums, but fans use a ‘Zoom wall’ to watch games


As professional football returned to Denmark, fans used Zoom to be part of the action.

Thousands of fans logged into the video-conferencing software on Thursday evening and were transported into the Ceres Park stadium for a league game between AGF Aarhus and Randers that heralded the resumption of the country’s pandemic-affected season.

While the stadium itself was without fans, the faces of thousands of supporters who joined the Zoom call were shown on giant screens along one side of the field.

Families wearing club shirts and scarves cheered inside their living rooms. Some were seen clenching their fists in joy after Simon Piesinger scored with a lob from more than 35 metres out to put Randers, the visiting team, ahead in the 36th minute.

Aarhus equalised in stoppage minute and the game finished 1-1.

Ahead of the game, Aarhus described the ‘Zoom wall’ as the world’s first “virtual grandstand.”

Crowd noise was piped in for the match and there were cardboard “spectators” in place in the stands.

A group of TV screens at a ground show fans remote-watching a Danish football game.
Danish football is being played behind closed doors — but that isn’t stopping fans making their presence felt.(AP/Ritzau Scanpix: Henning Bagger)

Games are being played without spectators in Denmark, like in other countries, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Danish Superliga has been suspended since March .

FC Midtjylland, the league leader, plays its first game back on Saturday at home against AC Horsens and is planning a “drive-in” where at least 2,000 supporters can watch the game from inside their cars outside the team’s ground.

Giant screens have been installed in the stadium’s parking lot and footage of the fans in their cars is set to be screened inside the arena.

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Australian News

NRL to proceed with single-referee system when play resumes after coronavirus break



The dispute between the NRL and the referees union has been resolved, with the whistleblowers agreeing to the league’s move to proceed with one referee for the remainder of the season.

The referees’ association, the Professional Rugby League Match Officials (PRLMO), had been planning to go before an arbitration hearing at the Fair Work Commission after a decision by the Australian Rugby League Commission to return to one on-field referee.

But the union has now reached a deal to have a single official for the remainder of the year, and for part-time referees who are not required to retain a $500-a-week payment.

The system will be reviewed at the end of the year by representatives of players, coaches, referees and the NRL management.

More to come.



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West Coast Eagles want to avoid playing in Victoria when AFL season resumes after coronavirus shutdown


West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson says he does not expect the club will have to travel to Victoria to play matches while the players are based on the Gold Coast when the AFL season recommences next month.

The Eagles and their Western Australian rival Fremantle will move to the Gold Coast after the AFL announced it was planning to restart the season on June 11.

South Australia’s two clubs, the Crows and the Power, will also relocate to the Gold Coast, as the AFL attempts to resume the 2020 season that was suspended because of coronavirus restrictions.

It is expected the four clubs will be based in Queensland for the opening four weeks of matches, although the AFL is yet to announce its fixture schedule.

Simpson said it would make sense if the Eagles did not have to travel from Queensland to Victoria for matches.

He said the club was waiting for the AFL to confirm its plans for the opening weeks of the rebooted season.

“I’m assuming they (AFL) are going to read through it the best they can,” Simpson told ABC Grandstand.

“But until [we get] clarification we will wait and see.”

Simpson said the four interstate teams based on the Gold Coast and Queensland’s two AFL clubs, Brisbane and the Suns, should play each other.

“I would anticipate that we will be playing — probably — the games against the teams that are up in south-east Queensland and work through that first, but that’s a guess,” he said.

Simpson said the Eagles were not ruling out the prospect of being able to play matches at home in Perth later in the season, although this would be contingent on the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

“I think if we play out of our state for the first five or six weeks, hopefully we will be playing in our state for the last five or six weeks,” he said.

The AFL is also hoping the Eagles and Dockers will get the opportunity to play matches in Perth.

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder said it would be fair to the Western Australian and South Australian clubs that they get to play in their home towns.

“A lot is going to depend on where the South Australian and West Australian [teams] go in terms of their [state] borders,” he said.

“But clearly we would like — for equity — the two West Australian teams and the two South Australian teams to be able to play home games.”

Goyder said it was vital the season resumed for the people who work in the AFL industry and Australian rules fans.

“This is an industry that employees a lot of people and we owe it to those people to give our best to get the game back,” he said.

“But more importantly, we’ve got over a million members of AFL clubs and many more supporters, and people who just love this game, so I think we’ve got a serious obligation.”



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Australian News

AFL players to face coronavirus testing before training resumes ahead of season relaunch


The AFL has ordered every listed player and staff member to be tested for COVID-19 by Friday before clubs potentially return to full-contact training with complete squads next week.

The mandatory coronavirus tests are to be completed as part of the AFL’s return-to-play plan, which is still being finalised.

An official announcement on the season restart will not be made until at least Wednesday, as league officials continue negotiations over training protocols with state governments.

In a note sent to all clubs on Tuesday detailing coronavirus testing requirements, the AFL also told clubs they must reduce football department spending by 40 per cent as part of drastic cost-cutting measures deemed necessary for the competition’s survival.

Football department staff numbers will be capped at 24 and must include a doctor, player development manager and psychologist.

“We must take a prudent approach to football department expenditure which recognises that a significant level of industry revenue has already been lost and there is further material risk to our financial position both this season and in future years,” AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said.

As part of strict return-to-play rules, players have been banned from featuring in their affiliated second-tier competitions.

The AFL is considering allowing players who are not selected for regular matches to participate in games against other AFL clubs in a controlled environment.

Clubs have been warned against further breaches of coronavirus protocols after Adelaide’s training error last week, and all clubs are required to nominate an internal COVID-19 club compliance officer.

The AFL is still locked in talks with state governments over training allowances in the build-up to a likely season restart next month.

All 10 Victorian clubs have been handed exemptions by their state government to train at full capacity from Wednesday, providing they operate in exclusive facilities away from the general public.

The four AFL clubs in New South Wales and Queensland appear likely to receive similar exemptions, in line with those given to their NRL counterparts, but there are currently no exemptions in South Australia and Western Australia.

The AFL is hopeful the South Australian and Western Australian governments will grant their respective clubs special permission to train or fly in and out of their bases for matches without serving mandatory quarantine periods upon re-entry.

Otherwise, they could have to temporarily relocate their operations to recommence the season.

Melbourne makes logistical sense for temporary relocations however the Gold Coast also presents as a drawcard with its facilities and warm weather.

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula on Tuesday gave the green light to interstate clubs using Melbourne as a temporary base.

“We’d be comfortable with Western Australian teams being part of any appropriate quarantine arrangement [in Victoria] if that’s the way they choose to go,” he said.

“But it’s a matter for (Western Australian Premier) Mark McGowan and the Western Australian Government, and ultimately for them and the AFL to come to a conclusion about.”

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