South Australians In Sunshine State Urged To Return Home Before They Cannot

South Australians In Sunshine State Urged To Return Home Before They Cannot

Premier Steven Marshall says any South Australians in Queensland should think about coming home.

ADELAIDE, Australia — Residents of South Australia in the northeastern Australian state, Queensland, have been urged to consider returning as soon as possible as the Sunshine State continues to battle a Covid-19 outbreak.

South Australian residents are still allowed to return with southeast Queensland in lockdown, provided they spend 14 days in-home quarantine.

But Premier Steven Marshall said that may change in the coming days, and local residents may face tougher restrictions, including the need to seek a special exemption to return.

“People need to be thinking now about whether they should be staying in Queensland or coming back,” he said.

South Australia’s transition committee has also resolved to ease some local Covid-19 restrictions from August 5, including a change to a general density requirement of one person to every two square meters (21.52 square feet), down from one person per four square meters (43.05 square feet).

Sports competition can also resume, but South Australia will keep its mask-wearing rules for high-risk settings, high schools, and most public places, including shopping centers.

SA will keep its mask-wearing rules for high-risk settings, high schools, and most public places, including shopping centres. (Darren England/AAP Image)

Family gatherings will continue to be limited to 10 people, while weddings and funerals will stay at 50 people.

The changes come after South Australia stared down its own Modbury cluster of 21 Covid-19 infections, sparked two weeks ago after a man returned from Argentina and tested positive.

Marshall said it was still possible for more cases to emerge, but the state was in a much different position than it was when the outbreak emerged.

He said that was the result of South Australia’s decision to “go hard and go early” with a week-long statewide lockdown.

“We are still concerned,” said Marshall.

“Yes, it has been 14 days. But If we have missed any cases in South Australia, we would be picking them up around about now. So we really do need to be a little bit careful these next couple of days.”

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said that South Australia was still at risk with New South Wales and Queensland battling outbreaks of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

“The Delta variant has changed the landscape. It has made it a lot more difficult,” she said.

The new arrangements in South Australia are likely to stay in place for at least a week, though Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said they were also subject to continual assessment.

“If we do see significant factors that allow us to make changes, we certainly will,” he said. “But we would be looking at a week before we take any further steps.”

Stevens also praised South Australians for masking up and continuing to take the risk of Covid-19 seriously.

“It shows a great sense of community, that everyone is doing the right thing,” he said.

“It does give us the confidence to manage risk in a different way and maybe take a step further in relaxing restrictions. I’m grateful to see so many people readily accepting this imposition.”

South Australia reported one new Covid-19 case on August 2 in a child who recently returned from overseas.

The girl is in hotel quarantine but is considered to have an old infection.

The state has 28 active infections, with 21 of those linked to the Modbury cluster.

Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani



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New Synthetic Drugs Are Increasingly Found In Overdose Deaths In Australia 

New Synthetic Drugs Are Increasingly Found In Overdose Deaths In Australia 

The Victorian Coroner's Court has found 4551 people died from fatal overdoses in the past decade.

MELBOURNE, Australia — More people dying from drug overdose are using new synthetic drugs in the southeast Australian state of Victoria, as per a coronial analysis of such fatalities during the past decade.

4551 people were victims of fatal overdoses in the state between 2011 and 2020, the Victorian Overdose Deaths report found.

Men were twice as likely to die of an overdose than women, with 35-54-year-olds most at risk.

The report identified a new trend in lab-made narcotics called “New Psychoactive Substances,” which contributed to 33 fatal overdoses in 2020.

“The data highlights the urgent need for appropriate harm reduction interventions to mitigate the risks associated with New Psychoactive Substances use,” states the Coroner’s Court review.

New Psychoactive Substances are designed to replicate the effects of other well-known illegal drugs such as cannabis, MDMA, and cocaine, or pharmaceuticals such as benzodiazepines and opioids.

More broadly, pharmaceutical drugs such as benzodiazepines played a role in more than three-quarters of fatal overdoses in 2020, while illegal drugs were involved in half of all cases, and alcohol was a factor in 30 percent. (David Crosling/AAP Image)

Some of the drugs are so new they have only been on the market for a matter of weeks or months.

Given the rapid rise of New Psychoactive Substances, their effects have not been well studied, and there is some uncertainty about their impact in fatal overdose cases.

Synthetic drugs use, particularly New Psychoactive Substances, may have increased during the pandemic, the report suggests, or the higher number of New Psychoactive Substance-related deaths could be due to increased forensic detection.

Previous coronial inquests into deaths involving these new and emerging drugs have called for developing a drug early warning network and a drug checking service.

More broadly, pharmaceutical drugs such as benzodiazepines played a role in more than three-quarters of fatal overdoses in 2020, while illegal drugs were involved in half of all cases, and alcohol was a factor in 30 percent.

The anticonvulsant and anxiety drug Pregabalin has also emerged as a frequent contributor to deadly overdoses.

The report did have some good news, with a slight decline in overall deaths since 2018.

While drug experts had been concerned that the impacts of the pandemic might exacerbate drug-related harms, this has not been the case so far, with an increase of 10 overdose deaths (1.9 percent) between 2019 and 2020.

Deaths from heroin decreased by 12 percent to 187 between 2019 and 2020, while fatal overdoses involving methadone fell also.

However, deaths from cocaine, MDMA and GHB overdoses increased in 2020 to reach ten-year highs.

The State Coroner, Judge John Cain, said making fatal overdose trends public would give alcohol and drug workers access to critical information.

“Trends in drugs involved in overdose deaths are always changing, which highlights the need for timely data and policies that reduce harms,” he said.

The report is the first of a planned series of public releases by the Coroner’s Court to support drug harm reduction efforts.

Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani



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