80000 COVID tests and counting: Meet the team behind it - Ballina Shire Advocate
LABORATORY scientists in Lismore have been working 15-hour days, seven days a week to keep us safe.
A TEAM of dedicated scientists have been a vital element in analysing over 50,000 of the 80,000 COVID-19 tests undertaken on the Northern Rivers. According to NSW Health Pathology, Lismore Laboratory Manager of Microbiology, Glenn Hawkins, his team have done an exceptional job in processing the samples and ensuring patients receive accurate results - and peace of mind - as efficiently as possible. Mr Hawkins and his team are situated at Lismore Base Hospital where they have been operating seven days a week in a laboratory under strict infection control protocols, to ensure they have been able to keep up with the demand. He said fast, accurate testing enables early diagnosis and management of COVID-19 cases, which is vital for the protection of the community and to curb the spread of the virus. "At the peak of COVID-19 testing were analysing over 700 samples a day," he said, "Now it is around 200 to 250." Mr Hawkins said after a sample is collected from the patient using a nasal swab, it is then analysed in a NSW Health Pathology laboratory, equipped with highly specialised equipment, including a High-Plex 24 System designed to detect and distinguish coronaviruses, by their trained health professionals. "We are also set up for rapid PCR testing, to be used for high risk, high priority cases where an urgent diagnosis is needed," he said. These include the elderly, acutely unwell patients or those with pre-existing or chronic health conditions. He said NSW Health Pathology's rapid testing kits can detect a COVID-19 infection, with the result provided to the patient's clinician and the local public health team within a few hours of the sample arriving at the lab Mr Hawkins said his team have been doing an outstanding job. "Our team of nine have been operating over seven days a week from 7am to 10pm," he said. "It's crucial to come forward for testing, even if you only have minor symptoms, to ensure we keep community transmission at bay." .
Testing times for Ballina NRL star as deadline looms - Northern Star
THE Gold Coast Titans have not had a response from the Ballina product on whether he intends to have a flu shot.
TIME is running out for Ballina rugby league product Brian Kelly, with the Gold Coast Titans giving him until tomorrow to decide if will return to the club to have a mandatory flu shot. Kelly and lock Bryce Cartwright were stood down on Friday when the Queensland government intervened to ensure all NRL players in the state had received the injection. As it stands the players will be unable to train and play NRL until they receive the shot. The Titans did not comment on whether they had heard from Kelly regarding the decision when contacted today. The club released an official statement on Tuesday night as the NRL pushes ahead for its May 28 return from the coronavirus shutdown. The Gold Coast Titans have made formal requests to Bryce Cartwright and Brian Kelly to obtain up-to-date influenza and, as required, pneumococcal vaccinations, the statement read. Doing so will enable each player to meet the requirements of the Queensland State Governments protocols allowing Queensland-based NRL Clubs to train and play. In turn, this will allow both players to resume training and to play with the Titans when the NRL Telstra Premiership resumes on May 28. Both players have been asked to notify the Club of their agreement with this direction by Thursday 14 May. The Gold Coast Titans will be making no further comment on this issue until that time. Queensland is the only state which is enforcing mandatory flu shots for its NRL players. Chief health officer Jeannette Young rejected an application from the NRL for players who sign a waiver to be exempt from the injection on Tuesday. Players will only be exempt from the shot on medical grounds in Queensland and not on ethical or religious beliefs. NSW and ACT based players have signed a waiver to continue training but will be banned from playing in Queensland under the current restrictions. Kelly made his Titans debut last season after playing his first NRL game at Manly in 2017.
You can use your phone to join global campaign to save bees - Ballina Shire Advocate
NEW app allows you to get into the garden, take photos of bees and help map numbers around the world.
ARMED with a smartphone and an eye for detail, you could help save the planet during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. And while that sounds like the opening line to a superhero movie, there is a very practical way to get your housemates, kids or family members out and about in the garden and saving the world. Starting last Friday, anyone with a smartphone can download the World Bee Count app. Then, simply go outside (honouring all social-distancing requirements, of course) and start taking pictures of pollinators. On May 20, every picture taken and every bee counted will culminate in a World Bee Day reveal of the Global Pollinator Map the world created together, which will then illustrate the quantity, density and diversity of pollinators. The World Bee Count is a project organised by Hive Tracks and Appalachian State University's Center for Analytics Research and Education (CARE) and co-sponsored by Flow Hive. "We aim to inspire people with the education piece, so they can maybe think 'these pollinators are doing such an incredible job in my garden, perhaps I shouldn't spray with insecticides'," said Flow Hive CEO Cedar Anderson. "And if we get enough participants, we might even find new species - pollinators that haven't been recorded yet. "We need to know more about pollinators because they're so incredibly important to our natural system. "If we can map where they are, perhaps we can make better decisions about what's important and keep the whole system going." Mr Anderson, a former Greenpeace worker, used to fly paragliders over jungles to track illegal burning before he became a business owner and dad. Hive Tracks CEO, James Wilkes, said they were trying to build awareness of the critical role pollinators play in the world, and that those "bugs" we pretty much ignore - or run from - every day are essential to our survival. "The project is designed to be as simple as possible - just grab your phone, download the free app and snap a photo," he said.
These clouds could have a silver lining for barrier reef - Ballina Shire Advocate
SOUTHERN Cross University scientist is leading a team looking at an innovative way to minimise coral bleaching.
SCIENTISTS are looking at turning clouds into the personal shade cloth for coral on the Great Barrier Reef in a bid to halt coral bleaching. The process, called "cloud brightening" involves spraying microscopic sea water droplets into the air, which then evaporate leaving just nano-sized sea salt crystals which act as seeds for cloud droplets. Researchers from Southern Cross University's National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour have teamed up with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS), the University of Sydney and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to test prototype equipment developed in partnership with EmiControls of Italy. Project leader and Southern Cross University senior lecturer, Dr Daniel Harrison, said the process was completely different to cloud seeding which uses silver iodide and aims to target a type of cloud with a lot of moisture in it. By contrast, this process uses seawater and no chemicals and essentially is "brightening the clouds" to refract sunlight thereby shading the coral and lowering the water temperature. He said while technically it is possible to build a shade cloth over different sections of coral, this process would ultimately allow them to target an area the size of Italy. Dr Harrison said it was "mind-boggling" to scale up the process from the lab which would see 100 trillion droplets per second sent into the air which would increase the atmospheric nuclei. He said part of the reason for the low nuclei concentration was the air coming in from deep in the south of the Pacific Ocean, which has some of the lowest concentration of nuclei in the world and ultimately coincides perfectly to test the project on the reef. "We were amazed to see that the numbers of natural atmospheric nuclei were far lower than even I had suspected," Dr Harrison said. Future trials will be funded through the Federal Government's $150m Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program Research and Development phase announced on Thursday.