Tuesday: Big orders from state and federal governments and large corporates for rapid tests are contributing to a shortage. Plus: how to care for Covid face masks
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Good morning. Still searching for rapid antigen tests? Orders from big business and governments means less are ending up on the shelves. The extent of the damage in Tonga is becoming clearer. And some tips on how to keep your mask effective.
The shortage of rapid antigen tests for consumers is being exacerbated by state and federal governments and large corporates placing mammoth orders for the self-administered test kits, causing stock to be diverted from online retailers and pharmacies. Australia is currently in the midst of a huge Omicron wave after state and federal governments pivoted from a policy of Covid suppression to one of “living with the virus”, causing a surge in demand for rapid antigen testing kits. The federal health minister, Greg Hunt, denied on Monday the commonwealth was requisitioning supplies of rapid antigen tests, as it can do under the Health Act allows.
Hit by staff shortages and tens of thousands of new Covid cases daily, GPs in Australia remain under-resourced despite “enormous pressure”. A general practitioner in Victoria responsible for triaging Covid-positive patients and referring them to appropriate health services has said Australia “must now have one of the worst Covid responses in the world”, as clinics are overwhelmed. The doctor, who cannot be named due to fear of repercussions from his employer, said: “Australia has utterly squandered any gains we made during the pandemic … We are now seeing the sort of mess and chaos here that we saw in the UK at the start of Covid.”
A body believed to be that of a British woman missing following the tsunami in Tonga, has been found, according to her family. Angela Glover, 50, died after an undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific nation on Saturday, sending large waves crashing across the shore. Her brother, Nick Eleini, said Glover, who ran an animal shelter, had died trying to save her dogs. Australia’s minister for the Pacific, Zed Seselja, says initial reports suggest no mass casualties in Tonga following the disaster, but Australian police have visited beaches with significant damage and “houses thrown around”. Australia and New Zealand sent surveillance flights on Monday to assess the damage after Tonga was isolated from the rest of the world when Saturday’s eruption blanketed the Pacific Island with ash.
The health of Australian writer and democracy activist Dr Yang Hengjun is failing as he approaches three years imprisoned in China, say friends who fear he may not survive his incarceration. Wednesday marks three years since Yang’s arrest at Guangzhou airport on allegations of espionage on behalf of an unnamed foreign country. He maintains his innocence.
A man who was forced to hand over his phone and passcode to Australian Border Force after returning to Melbourne from holiday has labelled the tactic “an absolute gross violation of privacy”, as tech advocates call for transparency and stronger privacy protections for people’s devices as they enter the country.
Sky News sought to justify misleading Covid commentary that then-host Alan Jones was putting to air, saying it was balanced by coverage of the daily Covid press conferences, in a letter sent to the broadcasting regulator obtained by Guardian Australia.
The federal government has been accused of making a “disgraceful” attempt to cast secrecy over a case relating to Australia’s negotiations with Timor-Leste in the years prior to the controversial bugging operation revealed by Witness K and Bernard Collaery.
Novak Djokovic may not be allowed to defend his French Open title in May after the French government ruled that all athletes will have to be vaccinated in order to attend and compete in sporting events in France.
Russia has begun moving troops to Ukraine’s northern neighbour Belarus for joint military exercises, in a move likely to increase fears in the west that Moscow is preparing for an invasion.
The hostage-taking attack on a Texas synagogue has renewed fears of increasing antisemitism in the United States. The incident, which Joe Biden called “an act of terror”, comes as organisations tracking antisemitic violence say it is increasing across the US.
China’s coal production reached record levels last year as the state encouraged miners to ramp up their fossil fuel output to safeguard the country’s energy supplies through the winter gas crisis.
A French court has found the far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour guilty of racist hate speech for a tirade against unaccompanied child migrants. Zemmour drew widespread outrage in September 2020 when he told the CNews channel that child migrants were “thieves, killers, they’re rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back.”
More than 830,000, or around one in nine, Australian women suffer from endometriosis, a condition that can cause debilitating pain during the menstrual cycle as well as during ovulation, sex, urination and bowel movements. Other symptoms include inflammation, bloating, heavy bleeding and fatigue, and it can impact fertility. Regular exercise though may help reduce the pain, inflammation and risk of getting endometriosis, say experts. But here are some things to consider.
In the latest in our My unforgettable gig series, Melbourne indie rocker Alex Lahey recalls the fortuitous last-minute stage switch at the 2017 Groovin the Moo festival that saw thousands of Amy Shark fans accidentally turn up to her gig. “My knees went really weak – they turned to jelly,” she says. “It was so out of any reality I had considered – staring down the barrel of 7,000 people in front of me with flames on this screen behind me. It was like a runaway train.”
We were told coronavirus didn’t discriminate, but it didn’t need to – society had already done that for us. But there is a path to a fairer future if we want it.
China’s Wang Qiang secured her first win over a top-20 player since beating Serena Williams at Melbourne Park in 2020 after upsetting 18th-seeded Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2 at the Australian Open on Monday. Meanwhile, at the second round of the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal made a convincing return to grand slam tennis as the only man bidding for a 21st grand slam title this fortnight following Novak Djokovic’s deportation.
AFLW should be recognised as a winter sport staged alongside the men, argues Rana Hussain. The women’s competition is reaping no benefits from being the summer sideshow to the AFL’s main event.
Former Tennis Australia president Steve Healy has told the Age, the organisation must consider the current president Jayne Hrdlicka and the board’s future in the wake of the Novak Djokovic saga. Australia’s big offshore oil and gas players face a massive spend to clean up their act, according to WA today, after a federal government clampdown. And the first electric fast charger has been installed on the remote Nullarbor, the ABC reports.
The search for nine-year-old girl Charlise Mutten enters its fifth day.
And if you’ve read this far …
Face masks are now a fact of life. But even disposable masks require a few simple care steps to stay effective. Here’s how to care for masks between wears.
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