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The Great Race’s first winner Frank Coad remembers a rough, hand-laid track, and a car that dealt with it


The Bathurst 1000 is arguably Australia’s most famous race, the equivalent of the footy grand final for rev heads.

The smell of high octane fuel, burning rubber, and the sound of the supercars screaming past continues to draw thousands of spectators back to the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, Victoria, every year.

But the epic supercar race Australians have come to know and love looked very different when the first cars crossed the start line back in 1960.

For the first two years, not only did the race have a different name, but it was held in a different state.

Frank Coad and his co-driver John Roxburgh were the first winners of The Great Race, then named the Armstrong 500 and held on Phillip Island in Victoria.

While Mr Roxburgh sadly passed in 1993, Mr Coad is 90 years old and living in a retirement home in Bendigo, Victoria, with his wife Zena.

An older man wearing a hat and glasses standing in between two women.
1960 Armstrong 500 winner Frank Coad with his two daughters Susan Owen, left, and Julie Tyrrell.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Preparation was key

He remembers the race as clearly now as it happened, 60 years ago.

“We felt pretty confident,” he said.

“John Roxburgh was my co-driver, he started off the race, he did 40 something laps, then I took over and did 40 odd laps, then he took over another 40, then I finished off the race.

“A fortnight beforehand we’d done a full 500 mile under race conditions.”

The car they won the race in was a Vauxhall Cresta, a six-cylinder sedan.

It certainly was not the race favourite.

But as Mr Coad will attest, it was all about preparation.

“We’d put in about three or four months of work getting ready for it,” he said.

“We had the car so finely tuned.”

He said the car clocked 98 miles an hour at race day, the equivalent of about 157kph.

“We had it sewn up pretty much after the first pit stop,” he said.

A black and white photo of the Vauxhall Cresta during the race at the 1960 Armstrong 500.
Frank Coad’s Vauxhall Cresta at Phillip Island during the 1960 Armstrong 500.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Mr Coad said the drivers, brothers David and John Youl, brought the car over from Tasmania and did not know enough about the Phillip Island grand prix circuit — hand-laid using buckets of cold mix bitumen.

“We’d done all our preparation, we knew how far we could go on our front tyres without any troubles, and they didn’t.

“They went through the first pit stop and they carried on with the original tyres hoping they’d get another run out of them.

“But it didn’t happen.

“A tyre blew, they turned it over and wrecked it.”

The rough track was the reason the race was moved, as the bridge access to Phillip Island made it difficult to get the right equipment in to fix it.

Five men stand in front of cars.
Phillip Island legends Craig Lowndes, Peter Brock, Frank Coad, Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife meet in 2002.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Mr Coad said he tuned in to watch Bathurst every year, but it was not the same race he remembered.

“That disappeared by about 1964.

“It’s all changed, it has done over the years — as everything does.”

Racing was ‘bad business’

Mr Coad said General Motors, the parent company of the Vauxhall brand, considered racing “bad business” and didn’t want the Melbourne Vauxhall dealership to be involved in the race.

“They weren’t into motor racing in those days,” he said.

A man and a woman stand wearing sunglasses in front of a car in a black and white photo from the 1960s
Frank Coad said his wife Zena Coad was a great supporter of his career and a fantastic passenger.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

He said when the Melbourne Vauxhall dealership opened after the race, the demand for the Cresta model went through the roof.

“They didn’t want to buy a Velox, they wanted to buy a Cresta and they couldn’t get enough Crestas to sell,” Mr Coad said.

He said the prize money for first place was a far cry from the amount the Bathurst 1000 winner would take home today.

“I was married with three little children. My wife was nursing a six-week-old baby when I won it,” he said.

Reviving history

Mr Coad’s daughter Susan Owen lives in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in WA’s Goldfields region.

She reached out to the ABC after hearing an off-the-cuff comment about the upcoming Bathurst 1000 race on local radio.

Ms Owen said she wanted Australia to hear her father’s story.

“A lot of people don’t know The Great Race started in Phillip Island and that’s the sad part, I suppose,” she said.

Since being stuck in lockdown, Mr Coad has not been able to get behind the wheel, but he still loves to drive.

“I drive around in a 1995 Holden ute today, but it’s done 430,000 kilometres,” he said.

He said he had always driven fast, and racing is in his blood.

He said there was only one thing holding him back.

“There’s too many police around,” he said.

Watch Brock: Over The Top at 8:30pm on Tuesday, November 3, on ABC TV+iview



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Labor on track for a sixth term in parliament


Canberrans have less than three hours left to head to the polls in an election that will decided if Labor will secure a sixth term in parliament.

A whopping 70 per cent of the territory’s 302,630 enrolled voters had cast their decision before Saturday.

This was a result of a three-week voting period due to COVID-19 designed to prevent people standing in long queues.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it would be difficult for Labor to gain a majority in its own right, despite steering Canberrans through a year of devastating bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic.

“On the basis that it is clear later tonight that Labor, plus Greens, hold at least 13 seats then we would seek to form a government in that way,” Mr Barr told Sky News on election day.

“Shane Rattenbury, leader of the Greens Party, has made very clear the Greens will not form a government with the ultraconservative Canberra Liberals.”

Another Labor victory under a coalition with the ACT Greens would make the party one of the longest-serving governments across Australia at 23 years.

But Liberal leader Alistair Coe hopes to unseat Labor’s reign, fighting the election on cost of living pressures, lower taxes and better services.

LEADERS VISIT BOOTHS

Mr Barr attended North Ainslie Primary School on Saturday morning where he spoke with voters and helped cook the traditional democracy sausages on the barbecue.

Mr Coe was also out with candidates across the ACT’s five electorates trying to win over undecided voters.

Only 80,000 people were expected to attend one of Canberra’s 82 voting centres on election day.

Electronic voting was available at all polling booths, which means the result may be know within hours of votes closing at 6pm.

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese also took to Twitter to wish ACT Labor luck for the election.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison remained quiet on social media, after spending the week in Queensland where he campaigned with Liberal Opposition leader Deb Frecklington.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT IN THE ACT

Aside from electronic voting, volunteers are not allowed to hand out how-to-vote-cards within 100m of a polling station.
Another feature of the ACT electoral system includes the Robson rotation method, which involves changing the positions of candidates within each column on the ballot paper.

This aims to ensure that no candidate has the “advantage” of appearing in the top position on every ballot paper.

RELATED: Labor-Greens deal unique to territory



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Coughing dummies help track viruses on planes


If the findings can show how likely it is for a passenger to be infected by breathing the air on a plane, “it’ll probably drive some policy decisions,” said Mike McLoughlin, Zeteo’s vice president of research.

Reassuring flyers

Airlines have sought to reassure the public that flying is safe by implementing an array of onboard cleaning and disinfecting procedures, requiring face masks in the cabin and improving ventilation and filtration systems. But they haven’t been able to show what, precisely, are the chances of infection if that person sitting next to you or across the aisle breaks out into a virus-laden cough.

To collect the data, researchers placed mannequins with human-like heads in various seats throughout seven models of Boeing and Airbus jets, then made them cough. Or rather, they simulated a human cough, and how aerosolised particles are expelled and disseminated through the air on the plane, McLoughlin said.

Boeing and other companies are scrambling to restore consumer confidence in air travel, with research in COVID transmission, and devices such as this ultraviolet (UV) wand to disinfect cabins.

Boeing and other companies are scrambling to restore consumer confidence in air travel, with research in COVID transmission, and devices such as this ultraviolet (UV) wand to disinfect cabins.

Aerosol particles will behave differently under different cabin scenarios, said Byron Jones, an engineering professor at Kansas State University who studies airline cabin air and was not involved in the project. Gas and particles in a cabin become “a witches’ cauldron,” he said, based on air flows, particulate sizes and other factors. “It just swirls and churns and twists. It’s very chaotic,” he said. But that churning isn’t necessarily a bad thing: “That’s what you want to see in a general ventilation (system).”

Researchers evaluated how factors such as circulation, the exchange rate of cabin air, filtration and forward-facing seats affected the flow of aerosolised particles through the cabin, and who would be most exposed in their proximity to a cougher. Particle sizes and various locations throughout the cabin were considered. Tests were repeated with the dummies wearing disposable surgical masks.

Results in October

The tests were conducted during 30 hours in flight and 24 hours on the ground from May 5 through August. Analysis of the data and peer reviews are expected to be completed this month with a final report issued in October.

Boeing declined to comment on the results they’ve seen so far. In a statement, the company said it’s approaching the question of virus spread “from an engineering perspective by conducting data-driven analysis studies, simulations, modelling and live testing, which will help us all better understand the transmission and risks of COVID-19.”

The project is funded and led in part by the US Transportation Command, based at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, which buys airline seats and charter flights to transport US troops and their families around the world. The Command sees the study as critical to safely mobilising troops, said Lieutenant Colonel Ellis Gales jnr, a spokesman. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency helped connect the Transportation Command with United and Boeing.

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If the analysis shows infection risks through the air can be controlled on a plane, the industry might be able to use those results to help persuade the public to start flying again even before a vaccination for COVID-19 might be widely available.

“Throughout the pandemic, our top priority has been the health and safety of our customers and crew,” Toby Enqvist, United’s chief customer officer, said in an email. Enqvist said he’s encouraged by the early results he’s seen, but did not provide specifics.

“Everybody is keen to get the results out as quickly as possible but we want to make sure that when we release those results we’re painting an accurate picture,” McLoughlin said.

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Grace was a rising swim star, but the pressure to be thin took her off track


Grace Hull was a gifted junior swimmer and as she began to rise through the state ranks, her coaches sought out any edge they thought would help her swim faster.

When she was 15, that included the drastic proposal to have a breast reduction.

“I did have bigger breasts than most female swimmers. I was told that I had terrible posture because of this and as a result, my posture in the water wasn’t good enough,” she recalls.

While the now 22-year-old didn’t take that advice, it was one example of many where her body was under the microscope.

And it all coincided with one of the most vulnerable times in any girl’s life — puberty.

As she naturally matured and developed, she was forced to relentlessly reflect on her body’s changes.

That constant scrutiny eventually led to significant body image and mental health issues, which drove her away from the sport.

Why puberty can be a curse for female athletes

Grace started swimming competitively when she was only eight years old and at 14, she was selected for an elite all-age state squad.

Three girls with swimming medals around their necks pose for a photo.
Grace Hull (left) was selected for an elite all age state squad at 14.(Supplied)

She was rubbing shoulders with Olympians and thought it was “one of the coolest things ever,” but soon discovered it came with a heavy price.

Everyone in the group had to do regular weigh-ins and skinfold tests — which is common in high-performance sport.

But as a teenager going through major physical and emotional changes, it started to take its toll.

“I think every girl goes through a stage in their athletic career where they start to plateau through puberty,” the distance swimmer says.

“A lot of my plateau was blamed on my weight gain and how my body was changing shape. And it was heavily criticised by coaches and support staff.”

Things got worse when she was selected for the Australian junior team at 15.

There were daily public weigh-ins, with the results passed around for everyone to see.

“No matter the times I was swimming, no matter if I was on the Australian team or not. That my body was the reason that I wasn’t swimming fast enough.”

Catriona Bisset knows just how destructive the endless pursuit of thinness can be.

A runner stands with her arms folded while talking to her coach.
Catriona left athletics after developing an eating disorder and struggling with anxiety and depression.(ABC News: Andrew Ware)

The Australian 800m champion and national record holder qualified for her first national titles at 12.

But soon after, as she hit puberty and her performance dropped off, she felt pressure to “have a certain body and to be small, and to retain that boy’s body.”

“I even remember at the time saying to myself, ‘you’re never going to make it in this sport. Because you’re just not mentally strong enough’.

So is being leaner actually a benefit?

Squeezing into an all-exposing swimming costume or a midriff-baring crop top can be confronting for many women, let alone girls who are performing on very public sporting stages.

If they compete in sports where there’s a big focus on appearance or weight requirements, they’re at higher risk for body image issues and eating disorders.

They could also fall into the trap of not eating enough to match their level of exercise — a syndrome called relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S).

That can affect their periods, they may have weaker bones, and their immunity and cardiovascular health could be compromised.

And a lot of it comes back to that message of leaner being better.

That’s linked to power-to-weight ratio, or the idea that if an athlete’s lighter, they’ll be faster.

A child runs over the finish line on an athletics track.
Catriona qualified for her first national titles at 12, but soon after her performance dropped off.(Supplied)

“A lot of the time, you do get a lot of benefit from being leaner,” Catriona admits.

“But there’s a huge number of trade-offs to it. And if you don’t do it in the right way, it can ruin your entire career.”

“I was asked to keep my first-ever food diary at the age of 11,” Grace says.

“No 11-year-old should ever be in a position where they’re asked to write down everything that they’re eating in the day for the coach to criticise.

Sports dietician Rebecca Hay says it’s important for athletes to follow their bodies’ cues for hunger and not follow arbitrary meal plans.

And she’s seen how gaining weight can actually improve performance.

“Being lighter possibly means that there’s an over-restriction with food, which means that maybe their training is not as effective as it could be and they’re not recovering properly from their training sessions.”

She’s also witnessed many athletes slip into disordered eating in order to live up to the perceived ideal body type.

“And unfortunately, quite often when a female athlete changes their body or their body becomes smaller, there’ll be really positive comments surrounding that and that then reinforces that behaviour, so they keep going.”

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How do we move forward?

Catriona developed an eating disorder at a young age and she also struggled with anxiety and depression.

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She left competitive athletics for several years and eventually sought treatment.

The Melbourne-based runner still sees a lot of the same problems in the elite environment and believes there’s a “guru mentality” amongst many coaches who think they know what’s best.

“It’s just really lazy coaching. There are so many different things that go into how a person’s body looks. But it’s just really easy, if someone has a bad run, you can be like, ‘oh, well, it’s because they’re fat’.”

She thinks more women in leadership positions throughout sport and more research into women’s bodies can make a big difference.

Grace developed anxiety and depression as a result of her body image issues and left the sport at 17.

She wants coaches and support staff to become more accountable for the way they speak to athletes and the practices they utilise.

“We shouldn’t be saying, ‘you need to get skinnier or you need to get leaner, you need to lose weight.’ We need to say, ‘are we eating the right foods to produce peak performance?'”

While organisations like the AIS are taking action, Rebecca Hay wants to see greater coach education to identify problematic behaviour early.

“If their performance is dropping, if they’re isolating themselves, if they won’t eat in front of their teammates — all of those things are really important warning signals.”

Sport can be a problem, but it’s also a cure

Despite their negative experiences, returning to their respective sports has been an essential part of Grace and Catriona’s healing process.

“I think finding running again as an adult has completely changed my life,” Catriona reflects.

“Just the way it’s made me think about my body as this beautiful, functional machine that responds to good food and to nurture and it will reward me when I treat it well.

“It’s fundamentally changed the way I think about myself.”

“I think it’s great that I’ve been able to educate myself and realise that what happened back then was a result of a system that was a little broken, and that didn’t support me well enough as a young athlete,” Grace adds.

If you need support with an eating disorder or body image issues, contact the Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au

This story is part of a women in sport series called In Her Words. Head over to ABC iView to watch all episodes.



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Ellyse Perry on track to return to Australian team for New Zealand series after World Cup hamstring injury


Fit-again all-rounder Ellyse Perry and potential debutant Maitlan Brown have been included in an 18-player squad for Australia’s limited-overs series against New Zealand.

A hamstring injury forced Perry to miss the victory over India in the Twenty20 World Cup final, which was played in front of 86,174 fans at the MCG on March 8.

Perry has since recovered from surgery and is on track to take part in the trans-Tasman series which will mark Australia’s first hit-out since the T20 World Cup.

But she is listed with an asterisk, denoting her involvement is subject to fitness.

NZ’s tour is slated to start with a T20 at North Sydney Oval on September 27, but Cricket Australia reiterated on Friday that the schedule for the series could change because of COVID-19.

The health crisis forced selectors to name a larger group than normal for the three ODIs and three T20s, creating a golden opportunity for Brown.

The 23-year-old fast bowler is on the cusp of an international debut after shifting from NSW to the ACT in pursuit of an opportunity at domestic level.

Two Australian women's cricketers hold the T20 World Cup trophy as fans go wild behind them.
Rachael Haynes and Sophie Molineux celebrate with the World Cup trophy.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

Perry has been included in the squad, subject to fitness, but pace bowler Tayla Vlaeminck will miss both the trans-Tasman series and WBBL because of a foot injury.

“Ellyse is progressing well from a significant hamstring injury and we want to give her every chance to be available for selection,” national selector Shawn Flegler said.

“Tayla has had a slight setback in her return … our initial plans were to get her back for the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand.

“Now that’s been postponed we’ll take a conservative approach with her and give her as much time as she needs to get her body right.”

AAP



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Local News - Victoria

Smart cameras to track COVID-19 travel patterns


The idea is that down the track the Gridsmart cameras – developed by Cubic, which operates Sydney’s Opal card system – will directly control traffic light signals. Such systems are already in place in US and Canadian cities. The Department of Transport and the Transport Accident Commission have backed the research.

Professor Sarvi, who is the chair in transport engineering, said the cameras would detect traffic patterns and had the capacity to make on-the-spot decisions to control traffic flow. For instance, if a large group of children approached the intersection, they would be given right of way, or if an elderly pedestrian was walking slowly over a pedestrian crossing, he or she would be given extra time. The cameras would also give priority to public transport services.

The program will study volumes of traffic  and how public transport can be given more priority.

The program will study volumes of traffic and how public transport can be given more priority.Credit:Simon Schluter

“It’s like a human sitting at an intersection watching what happens,” Professor Sarvi said. “At the moment, we don’t have any eyes on what’s going on. Now, we have eyes and intelligence – it’s a powerful combination.”

The cameras to be installed by September are built with a micochip and cost $15,000 each. They are cheaper and more efficient than the current system of installing inductive loops beneath the road’s surface or other regular cameras that photograph traffic and send it on to controllers.

“All the processing happens in a fraction of a second at the intersection; you don’t need to send the image somewhere else,” Professor Sarvi said.

Chris Bax, vice-president of ITS global strategy at Cubic Transportation Systems, said COVID-19 had changed people’s travel patterns and it was necessary to monitor how traffic flows were changing.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in cycling around the world,” Mr Bax said. “We’ve also seen more people shy away from public transport and move back into their cars, which will increase congestion and put cyclists and pedestrians at risk.”

“Giving public transport priority at intersections to help them run on time … is an important thing to getting people’s confidence up in using public transport.”

Majid Sarvi of  the University of Melbourne.

Majid Sarvi of the University of Melbourne.

Before the pandemic, in the Melbourne local government area, 1 million people would come into the city each day, but figures recorded on Monday show this has dropped by 80 per cent.

Public transport patronage has fallen to about 10 per cent of normal levels (about 200,00 daily trips) and road volumes were as low as 40 per cent of normal levels (about 4 million daily trips) under the previous lockdown.

Lord mayor Sally Capp said this showed people were keeping off the streets during lockdown.

”The number of people moving around our city streets is significantly lower compared with the previous three weeks,” Cr Capp said.

“This indicates people are doing the right thing and staying at home where possible, but we know this is going to have a major impact on local CBD businesses.”

A Transport Department spokesman said: “If appropriate and safe, walking or cycling is a good option for making trips for one of the four permitted reasons.”

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Centuria Capital on track for full takeover of Augusta


Centuria Capital has boosted its international platform, with its $122 million takeover offer for Augusta Capital going unconditional after it secured 65.86 per cent of the New Zealand property company’s shares late on Wednesday.

The deal now sees Centuria on track for a full takeover of Augusta, which, if completed, will increase Centuria’s assets under management by 24 per cent to $8.9 billion.

Joint Centuria Capital CEO John McBain.

Joint Centuria Capital CEO John McBain.Credit:

Joint Centuria CEO John McBain said he was “delighted” to report close to two-thirds of Augusta shares have been secured within eight business days of the takeover offer commencing.

“We are encouraged by the significant response and look forward to the offer completing, which will expand our funds management platform into the New Zealand market,” he said.



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Mount Gambier loses another race meeting, reigniting anger about track issues


Millions of dollars have been poured into revamping Mount Gambier’s Glenburnie Racecourse, however a local trainer believes “we’re worse off now than before they started”.

Sunday’s scheduled meeting was transferred to Bordertown — a two-hour drive north — because of wet weather leading up to the event.

It was meant to be the first races welcoming spectators back to the track following COVID-19 restrictions.

Local officials said the Mount Gambier track was still “young” after a $3.3 million rebuild and the surface needed to be conserved for the long term.

But Michael O’Leary, who has been training in Mount Gambier for 40 years and is a winner of 1,500 races, including six Gold Cups, said not being able to race at Glenburnie significantly increased the time and effort it took to prepare the horses.

“We had to start earlier [Sunday] morning and [weren’t] finished until about seven, but if we were in Mount Gambier, we would be home by about 5:30pm,” he said.

About a dozen jockeys racing horses on a grass track
More than $3 million was spent trying to solve water-logging issues at the track.(ABC South East SA: Isadora Bogle)

Track’s troubled history

O’Leary said the issues started in 2001 when development on the track began to prevent water-logging; in 2018, more than $3 million was spent addressing drainage concerns.

After racing there in early December, a number of scheduled meetings were transferred to help the new track consolidate.

“They promised us lots of things last time and we never got them,” O’Leary said.

The trainer said he now had to travel around the state’s south-east to properly train his horses.

“You can’t consistently be doing that because it knocks the stuffing out of your horses.”

A group of about 10 people stand, with a man towards the left holding a trophy
Michael O’Leary with his wife and team after winning the Gold Cup in 2011.(ABC News: Tash Impey)

Time to grow

Thoroughbred Racing South Australia said its decision to transfer Sunday’s meeting was in the best interests of all parties.

Chief operating officer Vaughn Lynch said it was too risky to race on the Glenburnie track after the wet weather.

“We’re steadfast in our desire to put the safety of horse and rider at the forefront of our decisions, and it was decided that it was in the best interest of everyone to not risk racing on that track.”

He said the track just needed growing time.

“Nothing much will grow in the depths of winter down there in Mount Gambier … but once spring starts, we expect the track to really bounce back.

“We’ve got the basics of a good track and we just need it to grow and settle into itself.”

Mr Lynch said racing officials would visit the south-east in the coming days to develop a way forward.

“[We’ll] meet with the local clubs, the local trainers and try to work out a pathway forward that helps everyone,” he said.

“We’re working on it and we will get it right; this time next year, I’m confident that we’ll be able to race all winter in Mount Gambier.”



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Pakistan’s tour of England still on track despite 10 players contracting coronavirus


Pakistan’s cricket team is still confident of going on tour to England despite seven more of its players testing positive for COVID-19, raising the total number of players with the virus to 10.

“The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on June 28,” Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan said on a video call.

Pakistan will set off without the 10 players and one staff member who have to self-isolate at home. None of them was showing symptoms.

The seven newly infected players are fast bowlers Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hasnain and Imran Khan, wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, opening batsman Fakhar Zaman, all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, and spinner Kashif Bhatti. Also testing positive was a staff member, masseur Malang Ali.

From the first batch of testing, players Haider Ali, Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf tested positive on Monday.

An extended squad of 29 players was chosen for the three Tests and three Twenty20s, and Khan said it was fortunate the entire Test squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, tested negative.

A batsman raises his bat and helmet to salute the crowd as he walks off after getting out.
Wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan is hoping to be healthy in time for the start of the Test series against England.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

After quarantine, Rizwan should be available for the Test series, which is scheduled to open the tour in August.

Pakistan had four reserve players and Khan said coach Misbah-ul-Haq would get them tested this week.

Khan also confirmed that as soon as the 10 cricketers and one staff member tested negative, they would be flown to England on a commercial airline.

The rest will gather in Lahore later this week and undergo a second round of testing. Those who remain negative will leave for Manchester on a chartered flight.

Within 24 hours of arriving in England, they will be tested by the England and Wales Cricket Board medical panel.

The Pakistan squad will undergo testing at least five times before the first Test in early August.

A bowler is mid-leap with his legs outstretched and his fists pumping in celebration of a hat-trick.
Haris Rauf enjoyed a successful BBL stint with the Melbourne Stars last summer.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Speaking before the latest positive tests were announced, England director of cricket Ashley Giles said the test series against Pakistan was “far enough away” to worry about despite describing the situation as a “concern”.

“This is the difference with international sport,” he said on a video call.

“We need to get our opposition in [the] country. Anything that puts that at risk or in danger is clearly a problem.”

Giles acknowledged there was a risk that the upcoming three-match series against the West Indies, scheduled to take place in July in isolation in Southampton and Manchester, could be the only Test cricket played in England this summer.

“All of this has uncertainty still, even to any degree the West Indies series, because we know how fast-moving this situation has been around the world,” he said.

“We have been very careful at every step. Do we really know what’s around the corner? No. The bubble at the Ageas Bowl [in Southampton] and Old Trafford [in Manchester], that’s why we are trying to create environments that mitigate as much risk as we possibly can.”

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Brazil is on track to become one of the countries hit worst by coronavirus. This is where they went wrong


The people of Paradise City, Sao Paulo’s second biggest favela, are used to being ignored by government.

The shanty-town (“Paraisopolis” in the local tongue) sprang up in the shadows of the luxury apartment complexes of nearby Morumbi, one of the city’s most affluent suburbs.

But its 100,000 residents have never had access to proper healthcare, education or sanitation.

So, when the coronavirus started creeping through the tightly packed alleys, Gilson Rodrigues knew he had to take matters into his own hands.

“It is a question of saving lives,” he told ABC.

People stand spaced out on a football field in Paraisopolis
A socially distanced funeral is held for a COVID-19 victim in the Brazilian favela known as Paradise City.(AP: Andre Penner)

Through crowdfunding and a few generous private donations, the community leader hired three private ambulances and eight medical professionals to cope with the looming emergency.

“Things are getting serious,” he said.

“People continue walking in the streets as if the virus hasn’t arrived in our community, as if the virus was only affecting rich people who travelled outside the country.”

With thousands of residents now reportedly showing symptoms, there’s little doubt the virus is here.

The thousands of freshly dug graves in Sao Paolo’s cemeteries paint a jarring picture of what comes next.

Graves in Brazil
Brazil is the hardest-hit country in Latin America.(AP: Felipe Dana)

COVID-19 has become Brazil’s ‘political issue’

Back in February, this was Julio Croda’s worst-case scenario.

As the Health Ministry’s chief infectious disease advisor, it was his job to coordinate Brazil’s coronavirus response.

He developed a detailed policy on social distancing which was fiercely rejected by the President, Jair Bolsonaro.

Then he was forced to resign.

Gravediggers dressed in a white full bodysuit carry a coffin against a backdrop of houses on a hill.
Health organisations have urged special measures in Brazil to protect vulnerable populations among the indigenous, poor and racial minorities.(Reuters: Ricardo Moraes)

“During this time, you had a fight between [Health] Minister Mandetta and President Bolsonaro about this recommendation … For this reason, I decided to leave the Government,” Dr Croda told ABC.

“[It was] very hard because I want to help. I want to support public health.”

Three weeks later, his former boss, health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, was fired.

The minister who replaced him, Nelson Teich, resigned a month after that.

President Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the virus

Jair Bolsonaro wears a black mask
President Jair Bolsonaro has been urging business leaders to push for lifting lockdown orders in Sao Paulo to help the economy.(AP: Eraldo Peres)

Populist President Jair Bolsonaro has earned the nickname “Trump of the Tropics” for his populist zeal and anti-science approach to government.

Indeed, his approach to the pandemic has often echoed that of the US President.

He downplayed COVID-19 for months, calling it “a little flu” that Brazilians were uniquely suited to overcome.

He’s touted the unproven and potentially dangerous anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as effective protection against the virus, noting the US President was taking it preventatively.

He demanded all but the elderly ignore the state governments’ social isolation restrictions, even attending anti-lockdown protests in person to insist nothing was more important than the economy.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro joins anti-lockdown protests

When the President sacked his health minister in April, he said: “Mandetta’s vision was that of health, of life. Mine is more than life, it includes the economy, jobs.”

One highly respected British medical journal, The Lancet, called Bolsonaro the “biggest threat” to public health in Brazil.

In April, when the coronavirus death toll surpassed 5,000, the President told the press:

Now, more than 1,000 people are dying every day.

Brazil is now the sixth country to register more than 20,000 deaths.

And experts say the peak of the outbreak is still weeks away.

Brazil’s response is a ‘perfect storm for bad outcomes’

Brazil’s health system is not perfect.

But it’s not terrible either, especially when compared to other South American nations.

Dr Croda, who now works at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, points to Brazil’s successful containment of the Zika virus and HIV as evidence the country has the capacity to tackle public health crises.

But in the case of coronavirus, he’s witnessed first-hand a “perfect storm for bad outcomes”.

A cemetery worker stands before the coffin of a COVID-19 victim.
Hospitals across the country have been pushed to the limit amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic.(AP: Leo Correa)

Social distancing wasn’t adopted early enough, he says, and it’s difficult to carry out effectively in the crowded favelas anyway.

He points to the lack of testing capacity, even now, and the 80 cities that don’t have any intensive care unit beds.

“When you don’t have ICU beds, the lethality associated with the disease increases too,” he told ABC.

That’s already playing out.

Indigenous groups are at high risk

Communities in the Amazon rainforest are particularly vulnerable.

Dozens of Indigenous groups have been hit already.

Health experts say the disease is spreading rapidly amongst the Indigenous populations there, including across the border to Peru and Colombia.

A little indigenous Brazilian boy in a feather head dress looks strong while standing in a doorway
Coronavirus is spreading near the Amazon and threatens to infect remote indigenous communities in the rainforest.(AP: Felipe Dana)

Many hospitals are severely understaffed, under-resourced and far away from many isolated rainforest communities.

Critical COVID-19 patients are being evacuated by plane to the only intensive care units in the vast region, but services are severely stretched.

The Mayor of Manaus called what was happening to his people a “crime against humanity”.

“I fear genocide and I want to denounce this thing to the whole world. We have here a government that does not care about the lives of the Indians.”

Paradise City could become a living hell

A man hands over a mask to a woman on a piece of wood against a background of run-down housing
The South American nation has the second-highest number of cases in the world.(Reuters: Bruno Kelly)

Back in Paradise City, Gilson Rodrigues is coordinating a group of volunteers he calls “street presidents”.

Two “presidents” are assigned for every 50 coronavirus cases, taking care of sick families and encouraging them to stay home.

Gilson has also organised food parcels for those in need and established two isolation shelters. He continues to spread the message about social distancing.

“We need to show people why they need to stay home because if they end up in hospital, the respiratory machines won’t be there to help them. And they will die.”



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