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I'm not sure whether it's just hypervigilance after COVID but the emergence of another zoonotic virus in China is causing mild concern. The Langya virus is thought to have spread to humans from shrews in eastern China. So far there's no evidence of the disease spreading from human to human but still it's an unwelcome blip on the disease radar.
Langya is a member of the henipavirus family, two of whose six known pathogens are thought to be highly infectious and often fatal. The good news? So far none of the 34 known cases have died. That said, it's a little unsettling to have another viral nasty arrive when we're still dealing with - at least trying to deal with - coronavirus and, lately, monkeypox. The message is: be calm and carry on.
Perhaps it's because spring's just around the corner but there's some cautious optimism around the pandemic. Case numbers and hospitalisations are falling, leading some virologists to suggest the peak of this last wave has been reached. Deaths are still up but they're likely to fall as cases decline. Welcome news but there's a caveat. Just as it's done in the past, coronavirus seems adept at mutating into new and trickier sub-variants. We just don't know when and if it'll throw another curve ball. We're being warned Christmas might trigger another wave as people get together and travel again.
Sick of it? Yeah, same here. But damned if I'll get sick from it again; once was quite enough, thank you. Fortunate to work from home and live in an uncrowded region where common sense seems to prevail, and masks are again de rigeur, the chances of reinfection are lower for me than my city cousins. It was heartening to see Victoria deciding it would hand out free masks to users of its public transport network as well as those visiting health centres and COVID-testing sites. Some reckon it's closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, that they should have been handed out a lot earlier, but late is better than never. Normalising mask wearing so it becomes good manners - like not smoking in enclosed spaces - seems a worthwhile exercise.
Getting the population to mask up when the rona is raging is one thing; convincing it to get boosted quite another. Across the country, 84.37 per cent of Australians of all ages have had two vaccine does. Only 54.88 per cent of the population has had three shots and just 16.87 per cent has had four, the Echidna among them. And, for the record, my 5G signal hasn't improved at all.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Are you up to date with your COVID vaccines? Do you think there will be a summer wave? Should we just accept COVID is here to stay and take a punt we won't get too sick if we catch it? Are you regularly wearing a mask? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- The massive backlog of compensation claims from injured veterans should be cleared within two years, the interim report from the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has recommended. Funding the Department of Veterans' Affairs to eliminate the backlog by March 31, 2024, was among the 13 recommendations from the report, tabled in parliament yesterday.
- A range of Subaru models are being recalled over a potential issue with the Electronic Park Brake. The recall involves 78,617 cars including 2015-2018 Liberty; 2015-2018 Outback; 2015-2018 Levorg; 2015-2018 WRX; 2017-2019 Impreza and 2017-2019 XV models. Due to a manufacturing issue, the Electronic Park Brake adaptor cord connector may not operate as intended which could result in vehicle moving or rolling away while the car is in the parked position.
- A new national lab that will turn drug and vaccine candidates into products to be mass produced has been hailed as the "missing link" in Australia's biomedical sector. The CSIRO opened a $23.1 million National Vaccine and Therapeutics Laboratory in Melbourne. It will produce vaccines and drug treatments in Australia following a successful pilot during the early stages of the pandemic.
THEY SAID IT: "You're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in." - Dr Seuss
YOU SAID IT: You had plenty to say about Peter Dutton's snub of the upcoming national jobs and skills summit.
"Why should the LNP party bother attending the jobs summit when members will obviously be downtrodden by a multitude of reds?" asks Billie. "Labor voters I know are only a bunch of handout grabbers and condemn anyone who is self-sufficient, even what radio station one listens to. I have been an informal voter for many years and probably will never change. Unions have destroyed the work ethic of this country. Thank you for an interesting Echidna." Thanks, Billie, for reminding me to check under the bed.
Lee says Dutton should attend. "Peter Dutton is being a numpty. The sooner he realises the majority of voters don't have time for his posturing, the better off everyone will be. The current irrelevance of the Coalition is clearly evident for everyone (except Coalition members and supporters) to see. I don't think the jobs summit will be a talkfest - where there's a will there is always a way. A gathering of like-minded people can work miracles."
Drew was taken with Fiona's cartoon. "Fiona K rocks! Consistently! Grumpy Peter (D) is the last thing Australia needs as it recovers from 10 years of division driven politics. The only upside is that his leadership further marginalises a party with some equally destructive players."
John agrees: "Of course Dutton should participate. He's only harming the Coalition if he doesn't."
George says, "Dutton and Ley remind me of Heckle and Jeckle, two cartoon characters who always complained. At some point the Coalition needs to remind itself that it lost the election for many reasons and one of them was for being unintelligent."
Greg doesn't think Dutton's absence will make a difference: "Abbott, Morrison (Turnbull by constraint and emasculation, if not by design) and Dutton are destroyer-class units, not builders. Dutton and his predecessors have shown themselves incapable of engaging in whole-of-nation or even whole-of-government planning, consensus seeking and implementation. The exception has been in the persecution and demonisation of people who most need the very services and support that governments ought to provide, at which they have excelled. Let him squeak from the sideline while the lions get on with the job."
Donald despairs at the state of conservative politics: "To Australia's great misfortune, Peter Dutton appears to be the latest conservative example of the Peter Principle. 'If you don't understand it, or haven't really tried to be unbiased, bluff and waffle your way through.' This has been the situation with three of the past four Coalition leaders."
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