There is a new COVID variant. Here’s what we know.
There is a new, more contagious Omicron strain of COVID-19 spreading in NSW that is driving a spike in numbers. It is expected that COVID-19 cases could double within weeks.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard noted that today the state recorded 16,288 new cases, an increase of more than 3000 on the previous day.
“Preliminary information indicates that in only another month to six weeks we could be looking at cases more than double than we are currently getting,” he said. “It is concerning us greatly that we are seeing an increase in daily cases.”
The new strain, labelled Omicron’s BA2 sub-variant, is more transmissible but there is no evidence yet that it is any more or less severe. And given many people have been complacent about getting a booster shot, Mr Hazzard has called on vaccination numbers to rise.
“While the community may have gone to sleep on the virus, the virus has not gone to sleep on the community. The virus can still wreak havoc if we don't go out there and go and get our boosters fast.”
The US man who got a pig heart transplant has died.
A US man, David Bennett, who made history as the first person to receive a genetically modified pig's heart has died two months after the operation.
The 57-year-old died on Tuesday at the University of Maryland Medical Centre. Doctors said his condition had begun deteriorating several days earlier.
Bennett's son praised the hospital for offering the last-ditch experiment, saying the family hoped it would help further efforts to end the organ shortage. "We are grateful for every innovative moment, every crazy dream, every sleepless night that went into this historic effort. We hope this story can be the beginning of hope and not the end."
Doctors for decades have sought to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants. Bennett, a handyman from Maryland, was a candidate for this newest attempt only because he otherwise faced certain death - ineligible for a human heart transplant, bedridden and on life support, and out of other options.
After the January 7 2022 operation, Bennett's son said his father knew there was no guarantee it would work. Prior attempts at such transplants have failed largely because patients' bodies rapidly rejected the animal organ. This time, the Maryland surgeons used a heart from a gene-edited pig. Bennett survived significantly longer with the gene-edited pig heart than one of the last milestones, when Baby Fae, a dying California infant, lived 21 days with a baboon's heart in 1984.
US man given genetically modified pig heart in world-first surgery dies https://t.co/Pwy47do6pi— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 9, 2022
The Kim Kardashian comment that kicked off a new controversy.
The Kardashian family have given a interview to Variety, talking about their new upcoming TV show and the intricacies of their various businesses. But one particular comment from Kim Kardashian has kicked off a whole new controversy - and both celebrities and fans alike are now talking about it.
And four months after the Astroworld Festival tragedy killed 10 people and injured many more, Travis Scott has announced a new community initiative called Project Heal in response.
Plus, Amanda Bynes has spoken directly to her fans for the first time about ending the conservatorship she's been under for nine years, but it’s the outlets she tagged in the Instagram post that we have questions about.
Listen to The Spill now.
The pop culture stories you missed.
Yesterday was a huge moment in Australian history: it marked the arrival of our first local Netflix reality show.
What an occasion.
Bryon Baes, the series chronicling the lives of the famous town's influencers (no, definitely not Chris Hemsworth), dropped on the streaming service on Wednesday. The series follows the tried-and-true reality TV trope of dropping newbies into a tightknit clique and opens on cast members Jade and Sarah arriving from... wait for it... the Gold Coast. Shock horror!
As you'd hope, it serves up a group of potential villains, contrived drama, and, because this is Byron, crystals.
If it's your thing, you'll love it. If it's not, you'll probably still enjoy a hate-watch.
Need more convincing? Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik has written a full review: Netflix's Byron Baes perfectly follows the reality TV formula, but there's still one fatal flaw.
NSW town "disappointed" after PM visit, and all the news you need to know this morning.
Morning friends, as women there's an undeniable societal pressure to check boxes.
"Do you have a partner?" "When are you getting engaged?" "So when are you having kids?"
If you're sick of being asked these questions, you're not alone. My colleague Rebecca Davis has written exactly why she's tired of the pressure of 'next'. You can read about it all here: Boyfriend, engagement, wedding, babies: I’m 33 and tired of the pressure of 'next'.
But first, lets get you across the biggest news stories making a buzz today, Thursday March 10.
1. PM declares floods a national emergency, but fails to impress during his tour of NSW.
The prime minister has left locals of the NSW town of Lismore "disappointed" during his tour of flood-ravaged areas yesterday, which the media were banned from attending.
During the tour, which saw him visit flood-affected homes and the Lismore Emergency Operations Centre, Scott Morrison declared the Northern NSW floods a national emergency, allowing the government to deploy more resources.
But Lismore Mayor said the town would have liked to hear some "assurance" from the prime minster.
"We came with high expectations for the visit and gotta say that 'we're fairly disappointed' would be an understatement," he told A Current Affair.
"I've talked to a lot of people in the community, business owners, residents, you know a lot of these people have struggled through COVID lockdowns and different things over the last few years," he said.
"(They) never claimed a single thing from the government, never wanted to claim anything from the government and this absolute catastrophe that's wiped out our city – all we want is an assurance that we're gonna be ok, that the Federal Government is gonna look after us."
When asked about the decision to not have media present during the tour, Morrison told a press conference, "I have respect for the privacy of those I came to speak for in these disasters not everybody wants a camera shoved in their face."
2. Children's hospital and maternity ward bombed in Ukraine on day of ceasefire.
Russia has been accused of bombing a children's hospital in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol during a supposed ceasefire to enable hundreds of thousands of residents to escape.
Russia, which denies targeting civilians, has said it will hold fire to let civilians flee Mariupol and other besieged cities on Wednesday. But the city council said the hospital had been hit more than once.
"The Russian occupying forces have dropped several bombs on the children's hospital. The destruction is colossal," the city council said in an online post.
Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said 17 people were wounded in the attack, including women in labour, while Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy called it an atrocity.
"Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage," he said on Twitter.
Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity. pic.twitter.com/FoaNdbKH5k— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 9, 2022
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked to comment on the reported bombing, said: "Russian forces do not fire on civilian targets."
3. Aussie defence force to be boosted to largest size since Vietnam War.
Australia's defence workforce will be boosted to more than 100,000 people under a new plan to be announced by the prime minister and defence minister today.
The $38 billion expansion - first flagged as part of a 2020 defence force structure plan - is slated to grow the defence workforce by around 18,500 people by 2040, the biggest expansion since the Vietnam War.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the increase will result in almost 80,000 permanent Australian Defence Force personnel - a 30 per cent increase - and a total permanent workforce of over 101,000 by 2040.
"Our world is becoming increasingly uncertain so it's important we take steps now to protect our people and our national interest over the coming decades," he said.
"You can't flick a switch to increase your army, navy and air force overnight. Growing the type of people and skills we need to face the threats of the future takes time, so we must start now so critical skills can be taught and experience gained."
4. NSW man second Aussie to die from Japanese encephalitis.
A NSW man in his 70s is the second Australian to die after contracting the mosquito-born Japanese encephalitis virus.
NSW Health has confirmed the man from the Griffith region died in a Sydney hospital on February 13, after autopsy results were released on Wednesday. Another man aged in his 60s in Victoria died on February 28.
There are now 15 human cases of the virus - which spreads to humans through mosquito bites - in Australia, including seven in Victoria, one in Queensland, and three in NSW. The disease has also infected at least 20 piggeries.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the virus was spreading due to climate change, following heavy rain and devastating floods in NSW and Queensland.
"Clearly with so much climate change-induced weather pattern change, we're now seeing it move around all of the states," he said.
"Whilst only about one per cent of cases display symptoms, and only a very small number of those display extreme symptoms requiring hospitalisation, it is nonetheless a nasty disease."
5. WA premier's private texts aired in court.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan privately described Clive Palmer as "the worst Australian who's not in jail" in text messages revealed in court during their defamation trial on Wednesday.
Palmer is suing McGowan for defamation, claiming public comments - including labelling the Queensland businessman the "enemy of the state" - had damaged his reputation.
The premier has lodged a counter-claim that he was defamed in several of Palmer's interviews and statements.
Palmer had sought up to $30 billion in damages over a 2012 decision by the former Liberal state government not to assess his proposed Balmoral South iron ore mine project. The McGowan government rushed through extraordinary legislation in August 2020 to prevent Palmer from suing the state.
In court, McGowan was questioned about text messages he sent to media mogul Kerry Stokes, the chairman of Seven West Media, alerting him to the imminent introduction of the legislation.
Over the next three days, his daily newspaper The West Australian ran front pages variously depicting Palmer as the movie villain Dr Evil, a cane toad and a cockroach.
When the legislation passed, Stokes messaged the premier to congratulate him.
"Thanks Kerry. I was asked about those marvellous front pages today ... I appreciate the support enormously," McGowan replied."All the mealy-mouthed tut-tutting by some people about Palmer's 'rights' makes me sick."
In texts with his attorney general John Quigley, WA premier Mark McGowan described Clive Palmer as the worst Australian not in jail. The messages read in Federal Court show Quigley refers to Palmer as BFL - big fat liar @PDGarvey reports @australian https://t.co/SilckYI7vV— Paige Taylor (@paigeataylor) March 9, 2022
The court was also shown messages between the premier and WA attorney-general John Quigley, where McGowan said Palmer was "the worst Australian who's not in jail."
Asked whether that remained his view, the premier said he had probably been exaggerating.
And that's it, you're all up to speed. We'll pop back in to bring you more of the biggest news stories throughout the day.
- With AAP.
Is any alcohol safe during pregnancy?
There's a new ad on TV telling women to stop drinking alcohol as soon as they start trying for a baby. It's a step further than previous advice that we need to abstain from booze once we actually become pregnant.
So what has brought about this new campaign, and why is it that the opinions and advice about how much alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy vary wildly from one source to another?
The Quicky speaks to an expert in alcohol research, and a woman who was dependent on alcohol during her pregnancy, to find out what the risks are when it comes to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
- What women were talking about on Wednesday.
- What women were talking about on Tuesday.
- What women were talking about on Monday.
Feature Image: Getty.