pandemic - 2ST

About 70 take part in Shoalhaven vaccination protest

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Shoalhaven Mayoral candidate Nina Digiglio was among about 70 people marching across the Shoalhaven Bridge on Sunday afternoon to protest against mandatory COVID vaccinations.

The protest was part of the national Reclaim The Line movement.

Disability workers, teachers, nurses and other health care workers joined parents walking with their children as they protested against the vaccination policies that have seen many take lengthy unpaid leave or lose their jobs.

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They include Ross Poulton's wife Bronwyn, who was a physiotherapist.

"In May last year my wife was warned if she came onto the premises she would be fined $5000, and her employer would be fined a greater amount," he said.

"So she took leave without pay, and I think it was about the beginning of October, she was fired."

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While some protested about losing their jobs, others carried signs raising concerns about losing the right to decide what happened to their own bodies.

"We believe the government is interfering with basic human rights by demanding the vaccinations, which don't work by the way, so we're her to protest that and to stand up for our freedoms," Mr Poulton said.

The protest march along the bridge footpath also included young parents walking with their children, carrying signs proclaiming their children should not be treated as science experiments.

Images: Glenn Ellard

WHO declares Coronavirus is now a pandemic

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The World Health Organisation has declared the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic, expressing alarm both about mounting infections and slow government responses.

But the organisation says it's not too late for countries to act.

By reversing course and using the charged word "pandemic" it had previously shied away from, the UN health agency appeared to want to shock lethargic countries into pulling out all the stops.

"We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.

"We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Wednesday.

"All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.

"If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people in the response.

"We are deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction," he said.

Iran and Italy are the new front lines of the battle against the virus that started in China.

More than 121,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 4300 have died.

But the vast majority of people recover.

According to the WHO, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

65 people are now infected with the virus in New South Wales.

Three of the latest cases are women in their 20s and 30's who recently returned from Italy together, the other is a man in his 70's who is a contact of a resident at a Macquarie Park nursing home.

NSW Health said COVID-19/Flu clinics are being established within all local health districts across the state to assess and diagnose patients with possible COVID-19 infections and other respiratory illness such as influenza as the winter season approaches.

NSW Health is also expanding the laboratory capacity across public hospitals and private laboratories to scale up the analytical testing to determine the results of those tests.

Currently, NSW Health laboratories have capacity to perform more than 1,000 tests a day at three public hospitals at Randwick, Westmead, and Liverpool, and they will soon be joined by four more hospitals: Royal North Shore, Royal Prince Alfred, John Hunter, and Nepean.

NSW Health has engaged private pathology laboratories to assist in the collection of samples from people who require COVID-19 testing.

NSW Health said it is continuing to find and respond to cases as they are diagnosed to slow any spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Image: EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI