Australia and Oceania

Netherlands record first death in coronavirus outbreak

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) — The Netherlands has recorded its first death in the novel coronavirus outbreak, health officials said on Friday. “An 86-year-old man with COVID-19 who was admitted to the Ikazia hospital in Rotterdam has died,” the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said, referring to the disease caused by the virus. “This is the first patient in the Netherlands to die of the coronavirus,” the RIVM said, adding that the source of […]

Virus panic buying prompts toilet roll rationing Down Under

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s biggest supermarket on Wednesday announced a limit on toilet paper purchases after the global spread of coronavirus sparked a spate of panic buying Down Under. Woolworths said the restriction of four packs of toilet paper per person would apply “to ensure more customers have access to the products”. Hand sanitizers will also be sold from behind the service counter and restricted to two per person. “It will help shore up […]

New Zealand confirms first coronavirus case

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — New Zealand confirmed its first coronavirus case Friday, saying a recent arrival from Iran who traveled to Auckland via Bali had tested positive. Health officials said the person, aged in their 60s, was being treated in Auckland City Hospital. “They are in an improving condition in isolation, in a negative pressure room to prevent any spread of the disease,” the health department said in a statement. Officials said the person, […]

2 cruise ship passengers found COVID-19 positive in Australia, had earlier tested negative in Japan

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Two Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus on their return home, despite being cleared in Japan, authorities said Friday. “We have two people who are positive for the COVID-19 virus. Those two people have mild illness,” said Dianne Stephens, acting chief health officer for the Northern Territories. Health officials in Canberra told AFP all 164 Australians who returned home earlier this week “were tested […]

Two Australian evacuees from Japan ship have coronavirus

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Two Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus, authorities said Friday, raising questions about Japan’s policy of allowing evacuees to return home after testing negative. “We have two people who are positive for the COVID-19 virus. Those two people have a mild illness,” said Dianne Stephens, acting chief health officer for the Northern Territories. Hundreds of people have been allowed to leave the ship after […]

bush fire in the australian outback

Australia launches national inquiry into bushfires

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia set up a national inquiry Thursday into its month-long bushfire crisis that affected three in four Australians and prompted widespread criticism of the government for its sluggish response to the blazes. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the vast scale of the fires — which killed more than 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes — required a new response from the bushfire-prone nation. The Royal Commission inquiry will be […]

Former Rugby League player suspected of killing wife, 3 kids in Australia car fire

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — An ex-rugby league player is suspected of killing his three children and estranged wife by setting fire to their car, in what Australian police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered. Police said a 31-year-old woman, named by local media as Hannah Baxter, died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the burned […]

Bushfire crisis hit 75% of Australians: survey

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Three in four Australians — almost 18 million people — were affected by the country’s deadly bushfire crisis, according to a survey released Tuesday that also pointed to plummeting support for the government and for coal projects. The Australian National University study showed the vast human scale of the five-month crisis, which killed more than 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes. “Nearly every Australian has been touched by these fires […]

Floods fail to end Australia’s years-long drought

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Heavy rain has given hope to Australia’s drought-stricken regions, but scientists warned Tuesday sustained falls were needed to end a years-long dry spell. Stormy weather has brought days of chaos and destruction in the country’s east, with one man missing after his car was swept off a road in Sydney’s north and hundreds more rescued from floodwaters. In the small town of Stanthorpe, Queensland, Tracy Dobie said the rain had been […]

6.2-magnitude earthquake hits Papua New Guinea

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea on Sunday, the US Geological Survey said, but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage. The quake hit just after 4 pm local time (0600GMT) at a depth of 31 kilometers (19 miles) some 122 kilometers (75 miles) south of Kokopo, the capital of PNG’s East New Britain province, the USGS said. Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Trevor Allen […]

Cyclone Damien batters northwestern Australia

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Tropical cyclone Damien lashed Australia’s northwestern resource-rich region of Pilbara on Saturday as locals heeded a code red emergency warning and hunkered down indoors. The category three storm brought winds of 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour) that were expected to strengthen to gusts of 220 kph as the cyclone further advanced toward the coast. The Bureau of Meteorology said Damien had brought “very destructive winds” and “very […]

Thousands flee severe flooding in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — Severe flooding forced thousands of residents in New Zealand’s South Island to flee their homes on Wednesday and left hundreds of tourists stranded at the remote Milford Sound beauty spot. The Southland region declared a state of emergency after being deluged with more than 1,000 mm of rainfall in 60 hours, triggering landslides on major roads and causing rivers to burst their banks. Authorities told residents in the low-lying areas […]