Australia Rapid virus testing on new Aust icebreaker
Expert says COVID-19 is likely to stymie family gatherings this Christmas
If you're holding out hope that COVID-19 vaccinations will magically open state borders just in time for Christmas, it might be time to think again, according to one expert. Bookings are up in some tourist destinations, but that's based more on hope than science.Professor Mary-Louise McLaws said she was "really sorry to say that" but warned that "unless authorities start listening to the science" Australians would not be free to enjoy Christmas with large family celebrations.
Expeditioners on Australia's new $529 million Antarctic icebreaker will have access to rapid coronavirus testing that delivers a result in less than an hour.
RSV Nuyina is en route to its Hobart base after leaving a shipyard in the Netherlands earlier this month.
State-of-the art medical facilities are being set up by two doctors on the trip south, ahead of an expected maiden voyage to the frozen continent this summer.
One of those is Mal Vernon, who sailed on Nuyina's smaller predecessor the Aurora Australis and spent seven seasons at Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations.
On thin ice: Near North Pole, a warning on climate change
A massive icebreaker cuts its way through the frozen waters of the Arctic Ocean, clearing a path to the North Pole, all white as far as the eye can see. Less ice means more water and more heat," he says, standing in the mist that envelopes the ice shelves of the North Pole. - 'We are just guests' -After his many years at sea, icebreaker captain Lobusov says the changes in the Arctic are undeniable.Along with the thinner Arctic ice, he says the North Pole is now covered in fog in the summer. "I think it's also the effect of warming, there is more humidity in the air," he says.
"At full capacity, RSV Nuyina will carry a total of 149 people on long voyages for months on end in some of the most extreme and unforgiving environments on Earth," Dr Vernon said.
"People being unwell on a ship can have big knock-on effects. In a month at sea a lot can happen, particularly in Antarctica where you're remote."
Video: WA research facility to improve ocean health (9News.com.au)
A priority is keeping the 160m-long scientific and supply vessel free of COVID-19.
The Australian Antarctic Division has gone to great lengths, including quarantining expeditioners in Hobart, to ensure the virus doesn't reach remote research outposts.
All expeditioners heading to Antarctica this season must be fully vaccinated.
War of words between Ray Hadley and Alan Jones over Sydney Covid rules
Jones has repeatedly criticised New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian during Sydney's coronavirus lockdown for enforcing strict public health orders to stop the spread of the virus. Last week, he used his Sky News segment to call for the pay of Australia's 'contemptible' politicians to be scrapped until they stopped implementing lockdowns. 'We are being run by an ignorant rabble who don't do any homework,' he said in another rant directed at Ms Berejiklian on Monday.
"COVID is very much on our minds. We have state-of-the art PCR testing for COVID (on the Nuyina) which has a turnaround time of 40-50 minutes from patient to result," Dr Vernon said.
The medical facility also has the capability for blood transfusions, general anaesthetics and surgery with telemedicine support from the Polar Medicine Unit and on-land specialists.
It has an emergency room, operating theatre, X-ray machine, consulting room and a two-bed ward.
The Nuyina, which is named after a Tasmanian Indigenous word for southern lights, is currently in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The pandemic has delayed the delivery of the ship, which was towed from Romania, where it was built, to Holland to complete trials.
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