Trump drug tested in Australian hospital

 

A controversial drug used by Donald Trump is being trialled in a Melbourne hospital, after hundreds of health care worker infections in Victoria.

St Vincent's Hospital is recruiting doctors and nurses to take part in a trial to see whether Hydroxychloroquine can stop them getting the coronavirus while treating patients.

The government's coronavirus task force has recommend against using the drug for treating the disease or preventing its spread.

9News reports the trial will take place over a four month period and 40 staff members at the of hospital have already signed up. Half will be given the drug, the other a placebo.

The hospital has also issued an urgent call to other states and even to New Zealand for more doctors and nurses to help fight COVID-19.

In an online advert by the hospital, St Vincent's staff warn Victorians and their health system "have been hit hard by the pandemic and our hospitals are stretched to the limit".

There are 753 active coronavirus cases linked to healthcare workers, with a total of 2563 professionals in the ­industry infected since the start of the pandemic.

Security guard to speak in inquiry

The hotel quarantine inquiry continues today, with a security guard and returned travellers to give evidence.

The travellers will answer questions in the morning and the security guard, the first to give evidence in the inquiry, will speak this afternoon.

Yesterday, the inquiry heard of a litany of errors and horrific conditions in the failed system.

A family entering Melbourne's hotel quarantine entered their rooms to find a used mask and gloves left behind, mould in the bathroom, food crumbs, a stained doona and significant amounts of dust.

Hugh de Kretser quarantined at Rydges Hotel with his wife and two children for 14 days from June 27. He showed the inquiry a number of photos of his family's unclean rooms.

'Gob-smacked': PM's demand to Premiers

Today Scott Morrison will push the States and Territories to agree to a consistent set of national principles over interstate travel.

In today's National Cabinet he will demand the Premiers stop squabbling and reach a deal.

However, ALP President Wayne Swan has blasted the sustained calls to open up state borders, saying the argument is becoming "Trump-esque".

Mr Swan said it was time to sort the issue out.

"Looking at the papers this morning it is looking Trump- esque," he told the Today show this morning.

"We have got the Prime Minister, the Premier of NSW, we've got the business community telling the Premiers to lift border controls and ignore the science and advice of their Chief Health Officers.

"I'm gob-smacked, these people want to risk mass transmission out of Victoria into NSW and the health consequences of that are severe but the economic consequences of that are catastrophic.

"I was talking to a businessman last night in Brisbane who said, 'I'm pleased the border is up because with the border coming down I'll have no customers.' People simply will not go out."

Trump drug to be trialled in Melbourne hospital

A controversial drug used by US President Donald Trump is being trialled in a Melbourne hospital.

St Vincent's Hospital is recruiting doctors and nurses to take part in a trial to see whether Hydroxychloroquine can stop them getting the coronavirus while treating patients.

The government's coronavirus task force has recommend against using the drug for treating the disease or preventing its spread.

The trial will take place over a four month period and 40 staff members at the of hospital have already signed up. Half will be given the drug, the other a placebo.

The hospital has also issued an urgent call to other states and even to New Zealand for more doctors and nurses to help fight COVID-19.

In an online advert by the hospital, St Vincent's staff warn Victorians and their health system "have been hit hard by the pandemic and our hospitals are stretched to the limit".

"We are receiving COVID-19 patients every day who need our help on top of our regular intake of cases, which is why we need you," the medical staff say.

"We'll cover all your flights and accommodation, as well as salary. "This invitation isn't made lightly - you may be working in a COVID-positive environment and the work will be tough. It's a big job.

"This is your chance to make a powerful difference at a time when it's really needed."

There are 753 active coronavirus cases linked to healthcare workers, with a total of 2563 professionals in the ­industry infected since the start of the pandemic.

Guests 'could leave' hotel after positive test

A nurse working in Victoria's bungled hotel quarantine said he was told not to swab a COVID-positive guest so they could "leave quarantine early".

Veteran nurse Michael Tait, who worked for the hotel quarantine program at the Crown Metropol hotel, was one of a number of witnesses who revealed on Thursday what really went on behind the scenes in hotel quarantine.

He said a Department of Health and Human Services representative told him not to swab a COVID-positive guest so that the "patient could leave quarantine early".

Mr Tait told the inquiry guests infected with COVID-19 were even allowed to leave three days after testing positive if they weren't showing symptoms.

"If someone tested positive, we would call them up three days later and check their symptoms. If they had no symptoms, they could leave," Mr Tait said, according to the Herald Sun.

"It seemed like the department did not care if COVID positive patients just left the hotel and walked into the street."

Mr Tait was among a number of witnesses who gave a damning account of what went on inside Victoria's troubled hotel quarantine system, which has been linked to the state's deadly second wave.

Further damning evidence is expected when the inquiry before former judge Jennifer Coate continues on Friday.

New SA border rules could risk virus spike

One South Australian MP has warned the state's tough new border rules with Victoria could actually put border residents at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

From 12.01am on Friday, Cross Border Community members won't be allowed to cross the border from Victoria into South Australia.

The only exceptions include undertaking year 11 or 12 high school education, transporting a year 11 or 12 student to school or undertaking agricultural or primary industry work at situation on or near the border.

Liberal MP Tony Pasin told Sky News host Chris Kenny this decision could actually bring more COVID-19 cases closer to the border than if the current measures remained in place.

"One of the real consequences here… is that by forcing Victorians, who would otherwise obtain their health services and other services from a place like Mt Mount Gambier… they move back into Victoria where the disease load in more prevalent and potentially bring the disease closer back to the border," he said.

"(This is) much more risky for south Australian border communities than if we allow arrangements for cross border travel."

Mr Pasin said the new rules meant that critical workers, like those in education and health, who live on the Victorian side of the border won't be able to cross the border to get to work.

"Which seems nonsensical in circumstances where we've got a perfectly effective border zone and measures that operate today that members of the community have been quite willing to meet the inconvenience of," he said.

"The sense in the community right now is one of confusion and anxiety. they don't understand why we are having to ramp up these measures right at a time when we are seeing caseloads continuing to reduce."

Government could make vaccine mandatory

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reassured Australians that no one will be forced to have the COVID-19 vaccine, but it has now been revealed that the government actually could make it mandatory if they wanted to.

Dean of the Swinburne University Law School, Mirko Bagaric, told the ABC that, while it would be "absolutely unprecedented" the government technically does have the power to enforce vaccination against coronavirus.

"Legally, the Government can impose whatever requirements it wants on its citizens," he said.

"In Australia we don't have a human rights charter, or anything constitutional or enforceable through other types of legislation.

Mr Bagaric said mandatory vaccination was on a whole different level to other rules that have been enforced through the pandemic, such as forced hotel quarantine and lockdowns.

"What a compulsory vaccine constitutes is a violation of what has thus far been assumed to be an almost absolute right. But can the Government do it)? Yes, it can," he said.

This comes after Mr Morrison backtracked on comments that he would make the vaccine as "mandatory as possible".

Later he claimed there was an "overreaction" to his comments, and explained that the vaccination won't be compulsory, though it will be "encouraged".

"There's been a bit of an overreaction to any suggestion of this, there will be no compulsory vaccine," he told 2GB.

"What we want to achieve is as much vaccination as we possibly can."

Mr Morrison said there would be a lot of encouragement and measures to ensure high rates of immunisation but clarified there are no compulsory vaccines in Australia.

"No one is going to force anybody to do anything as a compulsory measure, but we certainly will encourage people to take this up," he said.

"Everybody needs to understand what we are trying to achieve here."

Infected mum 'feeling amazing' after COVID treatment

A Victorian mum said she "feels amazing" after undergoing an experimental COVID-19 treatment in a Melbourne hospital.

Kimberley Hanrahan, 48, is one of the thousands of people in Victoria who have been hit by the state's second wave of coronavirus infections.

She has now become one of the first Australians to be given a new treatment known as convalescent plasma.

"She received two units of convalescent plasma which contains antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID," Intensive care research nurse Miriam Towns from Western Health told Nine.

Medical experts believe that by giving coronavirus patients the anti-bodies contained in plasma from recovered patients it will help them fight off the virus.

Ms Hanrahan said she is "feeling amazing now".

"I was grateful… I will do what I can to keep any treatment going," she told Nine.

'Too high': Issue with Victoria's numbers

Despite the substantial drop in COVID-19 numbers in Victoria compared to a week ago, an expert has revealed the infection rate is still far too high to allow for effective contact tracing.

Australian Medical Association federal vice-president Chris Moy told the ABC on Thursday that Victorians had gotten used to seeing huge daily cases in the 600s and 700s.

Dr Moy said today's 240 cases were still "too high to be manageable as far as contact tracing is concerned".

"These are not numbers that would have been acceptable just a couple of months ago," he said.

"We're seeing a reduction which is good but the reduction has not been dramatic and they're still numbers that could go the other way very quickly if things fail."

It comes as Melbourne University epidemiologist Tony Blakely told the ABC that less than 40 virus cases a day would be "adequate" to move from stage four to stage three restrictions.

He said easing restrictions more than that would be "too risky".

"But if we're going for elimination then you've got to hold tight until the numbers are down to two or three per day on average for a week," Prof Blakely said.



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