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"Her smile and tone touched us all." Voice contestant Natasha Stuart dies from cancer, & more in News in 5.

– With AAP.

1. “Her smile and tone touched us all.” Voice contestant Natasha Stuart dies from cancer.

Natasha Stuart, a contestant on 2019’s The Voice Australia, has died of cancer, aged 43.

Stuart passed away at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney on Wednesday, surrounded by her family.

An Instagram post confirming the news was shared to Stuart’s Instagram account, with a poem from Emily Dickinson and a picture created especially for Stuart by artist Dan Marsh, showing a feather surrounded by musical notes.

Earlier in the week, performers Stuart had worked with over her career including Tina Arena and Jimmy Barnes spent time at her bedside, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

During her long career, Stuart was a backup vocalist for performers including Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy and Anthony Callea.

After touring with Michael Bolton in 2018, Stuart discovered a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of that year.

In 2019, she auditioned for The Voice and was mentored by Goodrem.

“For some reason, I decided that the right time to put myself on to national television was while I was going through one of the most vulnerable periods of my life but I am so glad I did! It was amazing to go through a rebirth of sorts on a show like this and the fact that I’ve had such an incredible, positive response is beyond anything I could’ve expected,” Stuart shared in an Instagram post following the show.

 

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She told 9Honey she chose to audition for the show in order to make women like her more visible.

“I felt it was really important to put myself out there because I haven’t seen women who look like me on TV, going through treatment,” she said.

“I wanted to make sure that younger women knew that you can get breast cancer at a young age.

“I want to prove that you can still live a meaningful life through treatment and beyond, that life doesn’t have to stop.”

She regularly shared the reality of cancer with her social media followers, including the PTSD felt after diagnosis, chemo and surgeries.

Today Extra co-host David Campbell praised Stuart in an Instagram post, saying he was heartbroken to share the news of her death.

“Her smile and tone touched us all as a singer and as a person,” Campbell wrote.

“Many of us got to sit with Tash and say goodbye in the last few days she accepted us with the grace and warmth she always had. We talked about all the great gigs we performed together. Then we sang one last time for her. I will miss her voice and her company.”

 

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The Voice executive producers Leigh Aramberri and Chloe Baker paid tribute to Stuart in a statement.

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“We are forever grateful to have had Tash orbit our world and be a part of our voice family. She radiated joy, beauty and strength and touched everyone she met with her talent. Our love goes out to her family, her friends and the entire Australian music industry,” they said.

2. First coronavirus case confirmed in Queensland.

The first case of lethal coronavirus has been confirmed in Queensland as a 44-year-old Chinese national.

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said the man has been isolated in Gold Coast University Hospital.

The man is from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the global epicentre where the virus first infected humans.

Authorities moved earlier on Wednesday to isolate the Chinese women’s national football team, which had recently arrived in Brisbane.

The team were in the city of Wuhan on January 22, and will be required to stay at their inner-city hotel to address risks that members may have the virus.

The 32 players, coaches and staff arrived in Brisbane on a flight from Shanghai and are required to stay in isolation until February 5.

Queensland health minister Steven Miles confirmed the hotel was in the centre of Brisbane.

New state government requirements demand residents to self-isolate for 14 days from when they left Wuhan, says chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young.

“Anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case must self-isolate in their homes,” she said.

Dr Young said the football team posed no risk to the Queensland community.

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“We are working closely with the hotel and the 32 individuals concerned, who are all well and not showing symptoms, and we have Queensland Health staff present at the hotel,” she said.

The team were scheduled to play three Olympic qualification matches in Australia.

They were set to play Thailand on February 3 followed by matches against Chinese Taipei and Australia.

These games were originally set to be played in China, but were moved over fears of coronavirus.

A further 19 people in the state have been tested for coronavirus.

3. Coronavirus concern for detained Tamil family with influx of Wuhan evacuees.

Friends of a Biloela Tamil family detained on Christmas Island want a federal government assurance they won’t be put in danger by coronavirus evacuees.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a plan on Wednesday to evacuate Australians trapped at the epicentre of China’s deadly virus and quarantine them on the remote island for 14 days.

Angela Fredericks says the prime minister must give Sri Lankan couple Priya and Nades Murugappan, and their Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa – who have been in detention on the island since mid-2019 – a promise they won’t be exposed to danger.

“This is confirmation that this is a place we use to isolate Australians, and that’s exactly what they are doing to this family,” Ms Fredericks told AAP.

“We want an assurance that they will not be put at risk, and even more so let’s bring the family back home … there is a whole town here waiting for them.”

Ms Fredericks will visit the family next month to give support during their next legal bid to stay in Australia.

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Kopika and her younger sister Tharunicaa were born in Biloela in central Queensland, however the government has rejected claims for refugee status made on behalf of Kopika and her parents.

They fear persecution if they are deported because of links to the banned militant group known as the Tamil Tigers.

Their case, which will focus on a visa for Tharunicaa, will be heard in the Federal Court in late February.

4. New Zealand volcano toll rises after latest death.

The toll from the New Zealand volcanic eruption has risen to 21 following the death of a person in an Auckland hospital.

New Zealand police said the person died at Middlemore Hospital on Tuesday night as a result of injuries suffered in the Whakaari/White Island eruption on December 9.

Police on Wednesday said the victim’s name will be released after wider family have been informed.

5. “It’s become more of a weapon.” Ash Barty serves up warning to Open rivals.

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Clutch as they come, Ashleigh Barty has revealed the motivation behind developing her deadly serve into the most reliable weapon in women’s tennis.

The world No.1 enters Thursday’s Australian Open semi-finals leading her remaining challengers in almost every serving department at Melbourne Park.

Barty tops the four semi-finalists for aces, trailing only Julia Goerges in the entire draw, and has won 80 per cent of her service games.

But it’s her unrivalled 29 break points saved that underlines the Australian’s extraordinary capacity to absorb pressure heading into her semi-final with American 14th seed Sofia Kenin.

And just as the great Serena Williams spent her early years mastering the motion of serving, Barty credits her first coach Jim Joyce for instilling the importance of landing the first blow in rallies.

“It was just a shot that I learned, a shot that Jim taught me and it’s probably the only shot in tennis you have full control over,” Barty told AAP.

“It’s changed and developed over time but I as I’ve grown and become a lot stronger, it’s become more of a weapon.

“But it’s something that we work on every day knowing it’s a shot for me that can put me in control of the point.”

Barty’s 73 per cent strike rate in saving break points is the envy of her Melbourne Park rivals and gives Australia’s big title hope immense confidence.

“It’s nice to know at times that I can rely on that but it’s also nice to know that when my serve is not there that I also have other weapons to help me out.

“So, for me, it’s all about trying to have the most complete game as possible.”

Barty has been victorious in four of her five previous encounters with Kenin, including last year’s fourth-round clash at the French Open after the American had dumped Williams from the draw.

But a hardcourt loss to the 21-year-old in Toronto last August is enough to have the Open favourite on guard.

Bidding to end Australia’s 42-year Open title drought, Barty would be the first local woman to make even the final since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 should she navigate her way past Kenin.

Fourth-seeded Wimbledon champion Simona Halep will play fellow former world No.1 Garbina Muguruza in Thursday’s second semi-final.

Feature image: Instagram.

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