News Blog, Jan 19: Andrews Reduces Booster Interval to 3 Months; ADF to help Victoria; visa discounts to address agricultural labor shortages

Take your pick: The Australian government has announced that it will provide a discount on visa application fees for backpackers and international students to help address labor shortages in the agriculture and of the hotel industry. Photo by Megan Fisher

the Shepparton News blog is home to breaking news and top headlines from across the Goulburn Valley.

Hello Hello,

This is Rosa Ritchie, here to keep you posted all day. It’s beautiful in Shepparton – partly cloudy and poised for highs of 32C.

UPDATE, 1:15 p.m.: Recovering from COVID-19 means tackling the stigma around it

Shepparton News editor Tyler Maher is back after he and his young family contracted COVID-19.

In his column this week, Maher reflects on what Omicron means to our community.

“We have entered another scary phase of this pandemic where it looks like we will all be hit by the virus at some point in the near future, shifting the conversation to ‘what should I do when I catch COVID-19? rather than “how can I avoid it?” writes Maher.

“It means we need to be more open to sharing our experiences, if only to help others through the same circumstances.

“For me, it was plenty of rest, fluids and cricket that were the main remedies – along with the recommended doses of Panadol and Nurofen.”

If you have contracted the virus and would like to share your personal story, please contact [email protected] or call him on 5820 3228.

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: Vaccine dose interval shortened, Australian Defense Force to aid Victorian COVID-19 effort

Effective immediately, the interval between doses between a second and third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be reduced to three months in Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews announced this morning.

“This is on the advice of our public health team, which is in line with ATAGI’s broader statement – it’s safe, it’s effective, and it means the total number of eligible people increases significantly by around 1.2 million Victorians,” Mr Andrews said.

There are 2.45 million Victorians eligible for a booster and have yet to receive their third dose.

The Prime Minister also announced that Victoria would benefit from the aid of the Australian Defense Force as the public hospital system bent under the weight of the Omicron epidemic.

Twenty ADF staff will be deployed to Victoria to help drive ambulances.

Six more will help with planning as the state grapples with incredible pressure on hospitals.

And a dozen federal officials will also continue to help take 000 calls.

UPDATE 10.30am: Prime Minister encourages students and backpackers to get off under

International students and backpackers will benefit from reduced visa application fees by the Home Office, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this morning, in a bid to address critical labor shortages.

International students will receive discounts for the next eight weeks from today and backpackers for the next 12 weeks.

“My message to them is get down, get down now,” Mr Morrison said.

“We want you to come to Australia, vacation here, travel around the country and at the same time join our workforce and help us with our agricultural sector and our hospitality sector.”

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said an additional 175,000 students and working holidaymakers had been invited to come to Australia to take up the opportunity.

That’s probably music to the ears of Goulburn Valley growers, who for weeks have been calling for more hands on deck ahead of picking season.

Bright Sun: The exterior of the Shepparton Art Museum shines bright on a beautiful day. Photo by Rodney Braithwaite

UPDATE, 9:40 a.m.: Victorian COVID-19 numbers

Today there are 1,173 people in Victorian hospitals with COVID-19, while all metropolitan hospitals and six regional hospitals – including GV Health – are working to enact a code brown emergency plan by noon.

Of those hospitalized, 125 are on ICUE and 42 of those patients need ventilators.

Victoria’s third dose vaccination rate is increasing among people aged 18 and over, with 26% now having received a third shot.

Sadly, 18 people have died from the virus in the past 24 hours.

There are 20,769 new cases today.

Of the 49,838 PCR tests analyzed during the last reporting period, 10,726 were positive.

Today’s figures also include more than 10,000 positive rapid antigen test results.

In total, there are 253,827 active cases in Victoria.

UPDATE, 9:10 a.m.: Morning headlines

Goulburn Valley Health declares code brown amid major staffing shortages: GV Health is operating with up to 16% fewer staff than it normally would, while a code brown will come into effect from noon today.

A man caught naked on a roof after 16 days of crime: Man stole vehicles, jewelry worth $50,000 and sex toys for 16 days before being caught after falling through a roof and needing rescue as he tried to evade the police when he was naked.

Blackwater is slowly disappearing: You will be pleased to hear that the Goulburn Valley Water black water problem will soon be over. In the meantime, Water Quality Manager Mark Putman has a tip for anyone noticing an odd taste.

“One thing we’ve noticed that can help (get rid of all tastes and odors) is putting an open jug of water in the fridge and allowing it to aerate and release the compounds from the water, and also chilling it can help with the taste,” he said.

AFLW export offers prolific performance: Benalla’s Becky Webster highlighted an exciting weekend of action for the region’s AFLW exports, putting in a prolific performance in midfield as her Cats fell 14 points against Carlton at GMHBA Stadium.

Seymour secures former Werribee midfielder Louis Pinnuck: Seymour continued his golden recruiting off-season, securing the services of former Werribee utility Louis Pinnuck for 2022.

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