Australia works with PIF to combat COVID-19 in the Pacific

This vital Forum initiative ensures the passage of humanitarian and medical supplies within the Pacific as we work together to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simon Kofe, Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers, welcomed the initiative and said: “Australia’s support will ensure that the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway will be able to deliver much needed humanitarian and medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its actions, Australia is working to achieve values of familial ties and care for neighbour’s key throughout the Pacific.”

NZ health chief says Pacific bubble risks could be managed

There are calls across the region for travel to be reinstated, possibly before a trans-Tasman bubble with Australia.

Ashley Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health hadn't yet been asked for advice about an arrangement.

"My own view is that the risks can be managed well, especially if we've got countries that have got good testing in place and we know that they haven't got any cases and the arrangements can be put in place for travel to and fro," Dr Bloomfield said.

Australia bushfires: Hundreds of deaths linked to smoke, inquiry hears

More than 4,000 people were admitted to hospital due to the smoke, Associate Prof Fay Johnston from the University of Tasmania told the Royal Commission.

The fires burned for weeks, killed more than 30 people and caused air pollution which can be harmful to health.

The inquiry is due to suggest ways to improve the natural disasters response.

Australia grants travel exemption for Nauruans requiring critical medical care

The Australian Government has granted exemption to Nauruans requiring urgent critical medical care to enter Australia for treatment.

The positive development was followed by news of the breakdown in negotiations with the Fiji Government to allow Nauru Airlines entry to operate a repatriation flight for Nauruan students and other Nauruans.

One flight was allowed on 9 April but subsequent requests by the Nauru Government to permit Nauru Airlines entry into Fiji were unsuccessful.

Australia redirects $US65m to Pacific

The halt in tourism caused by border closures, cuts to remittances and seasonal worker programmes and other effects of Covid-19 have been devastating for many Pacific economies.

The funding will be redirected from the existing aid programme, and the government says it will provide respite for Pacific governments.

A fifth of the money will go to Papua New Guinea, with the rest to be shared among nine other countries.


Rare dinosaur identified in Australia

The elaphrosaur, whose name means "light-footed lizard", was related to the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor.

The five-centimetre (two-inch) vertebrae fossil was discovered during a dig near Cape Otway in Victoria in 2015.

It is the first elaphrosaur bone ever to be found in Australia.

The fossil was discovered by volunteer Jessica Parker, who was taking part in an annual dig led by Melbourne Museum.

Cafes and bars reopen in parts of Australia after Covid-19 lockdown

The easing of quarantine measures in New South Wales (NSW) state comes just a day after the national statistics office reported unprecedented record high job losses and Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that worse was still to come.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian cautioned people to remain vigilant and maintain social distancing as restaurants, public pools and other businesses reopen under the proviso they limit customers to 10 at any one time.

Melbourne cases rise by seven with McDonald's, meatworks infections

It came as the number of cases connected to an abattoir in Melbourne's north grew again.

The current stage of restrictions took effect this morning and allows Victorians to host up to five visitors in their homes and gather outside in groups of 10, provided distancing is maintained.

With seven new cases recorded overnight, the total tally of Victoria's Covid-19 cases has risen to 1514 - a net increase of five after two cases were reclassified to other states' counts.

Tests in doubt but international hiatus may have silver lining

But there may be some good from that with officials believing the havoc caused by COVID-19 could lead to a greater alignment of the NRL and Super League competitions to create a genuine international window.

With State of Origin to be played after the October 25 NRL grand final and Super League to run possibly even later into the year, it is widely accepted that the first Kangaroo tour since 2003 will be scrapped.

Pacific airlines holding out for NZ and Australia to reopen

George Faktaufon said Pacific airlines are not going to be able to count on national government support for handouts to keep them afloat, and the clock is already ticking for some airlines.

"It's very hard to plan for something that you are not quite sure when it's going to happen, because we have always planned for something that is certain, but the plan is depending on when Australia and New Zealand are opening up," he said.