Australia news LIVE: TGA confirms AstraZeneca vaccine linked to blood clot in Queensland nurse; ceasefire in Israel-Palestine conflict

Key posts

  • Watch: In-depth look at the Victorian budget
  • Ceasefire imminent in Israel-Palestine conflict
  • Unemployment rate drops, but 30,600 fewer people in work
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Medics at risk as one-third of N95 masks fail government testing

Science reporter Liam Mannix reports today that one-third of supposedly highly protective N95 masks used by hospital and hotel quarantine staff exposed to COVID-positive patients have failed government testing, putting the frontline workers at risk of coronavirus infection.

One-third of N95 masks – highly protective masks used in hospitals and hotel quarantine – failed government testing, placing doctors and nurses at risk of COVID-19 infection.Credit:Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Healthcare workers have spent much of the pandemic fighting to get N95 masks – meant to filter out 95 per cent of airborne particles – for dealing with people who have tested positive to coronavirus.

But government testing results leaked to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and confirmed by three separate sources indicate the N95 masks frontline workers are supplied with are often flawed.

Of 263 respirators and surgical respirators – including N95 and P2 masks – reviewed by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, about a third failed the particle filtration efficiency test.

About half of 78 surgical respirators tested failed to meet fluid-resistance tests to ensure the masks block any bodily fluid – like blood – from a patient.

Read the full story here.

Watch: In-depth look at the Victorian budget

The centrepiece of the Victorian government’s 2021-22 budget, released yesterday, is a $3.8 billion overhaul of the state’s struggling mental health system.

Social affairs editor Jewel Topsfield reports that a new tax on businesses with more than $10 million in wages nationally will raise more than $800 million a year to bankroll the changes to mental health to rebuild the failing system.

If you are after an in-depth look at this big-spending budget, state political editor Annika Smethurst has you covered here.

Palestinians rescue a survivor from the rubble of a destroyed residential building in May following deadly Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City. Credit:Khalil Hamra

A Hamas official told Reuters the ceasefire would be “mutual and simultaneous”.

Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet approved the truce on the basis of what one official reportedly called “quiet in exchange for quiet”. Israeli cabinet spokesmen had no immediate comment.

Read the full story here.

Unemployment rate drops, but 30,600 fewer people in work

You might have seen reports yesterday that the unemployment rate dropped in April, the first full month without the JobKeeper wage subsidy, but that’s only part of the story.

As senior economics correspondent Shane Wright and economics correspondent Jennifer Duke explain, the national unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 5.5 per cent, but only because of a 0.3 percentage point drop in the participation rate – the number of people in work or looking for it.

Queue outside Burwood Centrelink in May.Credit:Louise Kennerley

The total number of people in a job actually slipped by 30,600.

It was the first time since September, when JobKeeper was initially reduced, that total employment fell in a month. Markets had expected a 20,000 increase in total employment.

Read the full report here.

Welcome to our live coverage of the day’s events

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the day’s news and analysis. I’m Michaela Whitbourn and I’ll be keeping you informed of the morning’s developments. Here’s what you need to know now:

An Israeli artillery unit fires shells towards targets in Gaza Strip, at the Israeli Gaza border, on May 19.Credit:AP

  • Israel and Hamas will cease fire across the Gaza Strip border as of 2am on Friday (9am AEST). Reuters reported earlier that Israeli leaders were meeting to consider halting the Gaza offensive, after US President Joe Biden called for a de-escalation of the fiercest hostilities in years.
  • Thousands of AstraZeneca doses are sitting unused in federal government-run clinic refrigerators across Sydney and regional NSW, Lucy Carroll reports, with a lack of demand meaning some vaccination sites are operating at less than a quarter of capacity.
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration has confirmed a link between a blood clots in an 18-year-old Queensland nurse and the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Lucy Caldwell reports. The vaccine is no longer the preferred option for those aged under 50.
  • NSW hit its one millionth vaccine milestone yesterday, which is one tenth of the state target set by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to consider reopening international borders. It comes as the prime ministers of Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam call on wealthy nations to do more to support vaccine rollouts beyond their own borders.
  • The Victorian government handed down a big-spending budget yesterday. Thousands of businesses face a new tax to fund mental health services.
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