Doctor’s Tip: A potpourri of health tips

MOUTH MICROBIOME: An unhealthy profile of bacteria in your mouth contributes to gum and tooth disease (gingivitis and periodontitis respectively). These conditions cause inflammation that contributes to formation of plaque in arteries. Furthermore, this inflammation is often the trigger that causes rupture of arterial plaque—the cause of heart attacks and most strokes. Dentists who understand the mouth/vascular connection can order a profile of your mouth microbiome, which if abnormal can be treated appropriately with antibiotics and other measures. However, the downside of such treatment is that antibiotics kill the good mouth (and gut) bacteria along with the bad. Dr. Greger’s website presents information indicating that the best way to attain and maintain a healthy mouth microbiome is through a plant-based, whole food diet (search gingivitis, periodontitis on this website).

ARE COMMERCIAL STOOL TESTS USEFUL FOR DETERMINING GUT MICROBIOME HEALTH? No. These are advertised on the internet, but are not ready for prime time yet — they have not been shown to be accurate or useful.

PHYSICIAN/PHARMACEUTICAL COZINESS: An editorial in the October issue of the American Family Physician journal states that in 2016 the pharmaceutical industry spent 20.3 billion dollars on marketing directly to health care professionals, in an effort to convince them to prescribe their products. The industry places ads in medical journals, sponsors conferences, hires drug reps to influence prescribers via face-to-face visits, and in 2016 spent $979 million on direct payment to physicians. The editorial makes the following recommendations: 1) Physicians should not visit with pharmaceutical reps or allow them in their offices. 2) Physicians should not accept gifts, meals, or direct payments from industry. 3) Physicians should refuse free drug samples for their patients, because there are almost always cheaper alternatives.

PREVENTING BLOOD CLOTS WHEN FLYING: Prolonged sitting associated with flying can cause blood clots in the legs, which can go to the lungs and cause life-threatening pulmonary emboli. To prevent this, contract the muscles in your legs frequently, hydrate well, avoid alcohol, walk about for 10 to 15 minutes at least every 2 hours, and consider wearing knee-high elastic compression stockings. People with risk factors such as history of clots, cancer, or recent surgery should have an injection of the “blood thinner” heparin (40 mg. of Lovenox) on the day of travel and again the following day.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE? We know that exercise prolongs life and improves quality of life. It improves cognition and reduces risk of dementia, anxiety, and depression. It improves sleep, lowers risk of heart disease, strokes, and hypertension. It reduces weight gain, lowers risk of falls, lowers risk of type 2 diabetes, and decreases the risk of many cancers. The current Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity such as jogging, singles tennis, bicycling at least 10 mph, hiking uphill or with a heavy pack, or high-intensity interval training. If you prefer less vigorous exercise, the recommendation would be at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, doubles tennis, bicycling slower than 10 mph on level terrain, active forms of yoga, ballroom dancing, or water aerobics. In addition, the Guidelines recommend strengthening legs, hips, abs, chest, shoulders, and arms twice a week.

DOES CBD WORK? CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating component of marijuana. It is being touted for several conditions including pain, and has become big business. According to the October issue of Nutrition Action, published by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, a recent study in Australia showed it did not help with low back pain compared to a placebo. The FDA has approved only one CBD product — a prescription drug to treat a certain type of seizure.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email [email protected].

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Health Fusion: Keep your pets healthy and happy over the holidays

The American Veterinary Medicine Association’s (AVMA) website has a great tip sheet on how to keep your pets safe during the holidays. Their advice covers food, decorations, parties and travel. Here are some points I found helpful.

The key is to plan ahead.

Tips for holiday pet safety

Food: Keep people food away from pets and buy treats formulated for them. The below foods are especially hazardous.

  • Chocolate.
  • Sweets and baked goods.
  • Turkey and turkey skin. Even in small amounts, this holiday favorite can cause pancreatitis.
  • Table scraps. Many people foods are too rich for pets. Onions, raisins and grapes are good for humans but bad for pets.
  • Yeast bread. This food may cause painful gas and dangerous bloating.


  • Trees. They can tip over, so be sure they are secure.
  • Tree water. Additives may be poisonous.
  • Ornaments, tinsel etc. Broken items may cause injury and if eaten, items may cause blockages that require surgery.
  • Electric cords. Pets can suffer burns if they chew cords.
  • Always unplug decorations when you go out.

Parties: Events with a lot of people and loud noise may be stressful to your pet.

  • A Safe place. Make sure they have a safe, quite place to go during a party.
  • Let guests know you have pets.
  • Avoid letting guests bring pets to your event.
  • Watch exits so pets don’t wander out.
  • Clear food afterwards so pets can’t eat it.


  • Pets in vehicles should be safely restrained.
  • Air travel may be fine for some pets and bad for others, so talk to your veterinarian first. But do consider taking them with you if it’s safe. Air travel may be risky for some short-nosed dogs.
  • Pack for pets, including food, medications, toys, bedding, leash, health certificates, etc.

Also, keep your vet’s contact info and the 24/7 emergency vet’s contact info handy. The AMVA suggests that if you think your pet has been poisoned or sickened , call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435. They say signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Again, the AVMA has great information about how to keep your pet safe during the holidays, so checkout their website for more ideas and details.

Follow the Health Fusion podcast on Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at [email protected]. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Why Can’t Some COVID-19 Vaccinated People Travel to the US? | Health News

By VICTORIA MILKO, AP Science Writer

Why can’t some COVID-19 vaccinated people travel to the U.S.?

Because they might not be vaccinated with shots recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.

When lifting overseas travel restrictions in November, the U.S. required adults coming to the country to be fully vaccinated with shots approved or authorized by the FDA or allowed by WHO.

Among the most widely used vaccines that don’t meet that criteria are Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and China’s CanSino vaccine. Sputnik V is authorized for use in more than 70 countries while CanSino is allowed in at least nine countries. WHO still is awaiting more data about both vaccines before making a decision.

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Vaccines recognized by the FDA and WHO undergo rigorous testing and review to determine they’re safe and effective. And among the vaccines used internationally, experts say some likely won’t be recognized by the agencies.

“They will not all be evaluated in clinical trials with the necessary rigor,” said Dr. William Moss, executive director of the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center.

An exception to the U.S. rule is people who received a full series of the Novavax vaccine in a late-stage study. The U.S. is accepting the participants who received the vaccine, not a placebo, because it was a rigorous study with oversight from an independent monitoring board.

The U.S. also allows entry to people who got two doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of vaccines on the FDA and WHO lists.

The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: [email protected] Read more here:

Can at-home COVID-19 tests make holiday gatherings safer?

Are COVID-19 boosters the same as the original vaccines?

Can I get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Delta Chief Health Officer: Covid-19 Near End of Pandemic Stage

The travel industry is “entering the end of the [Covid-19] pandemic,” Delta Air Lines chief health officer Henry Ting said at the Global Business Travel Association 2021 Convention on Wednesday.

“We’re coming down from the surge and entering an endemic stage,” said Ting, a former Mayo Clinic executive who joined Delta earlier this year. “It will persist at low but functional levels. There may be outbreaks, and we will see this become a seasonal respiratory virus.”

Ting based his prediction on high levels of “some form of immunity,” up to 95 percent of the population when considering vaccines and prior infections, and new treatments such as antivirals that significantly lower the risk of severe illness and hospitalization. He said he also expected the pandemic will change the approach to public health threats, much like Sept. 11 changed the approach to national security threats.

“The FBI [after Sept. 11] made a dramatic change, when they discovered what they were excellent at was solving crimes, but they weren’t excellent at preventing crimes,” Ting said. “I think for Covid, as well as the next pandemic, we have to get better at preventing what’s going on.”

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McLean County health officials are concerned holiday travel will make recent COVID trends worse

McLean County health officials attribute the recent rise in new coronavirus cases to people spending more time indoors, and they say the upcoming holiday season carries an increased risk for coronavirus spread.

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) is encouraging the public to follow CDC guidance as the holidays approach. The department urges the public to “protect those not yet eligible for vaccination as young children by getting yourself and other eligible people around them vaccinated.”

It added that even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial-to-high COVID transmission. That includes McLean County.

MCHD public affairs coordinator Marianne Manko said anyone who is traveling with a group of people from multiple households and different parts of the country should consider additional precautions such as avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel and taking a COVID test before the gathering.

Twenty-three McLean County residents are hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s the county’s highest total in over a month. However, the county’s current caseload has dropped as COVID vaccinations increase.

MCHD said 437 people are isolating at home — down from 470 on Monday.

Nearly 5,900 COVID vaccines have been put in arms in McLean County in the last week. That’s the county’s highest total since late May.

This is the first full week that vaccines have been available for 5-to-11-year-olds. According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), more than 2,300 children in that age group have received one dose of the vaccine. That’s close to 17% of that population.

The county’s rate of fully vaccinated is 55.6%, a rate that hasn’t moved much for several weeks.

McLean County’s seven-day testing positivity rate rose to 3.8%.

There have been 283 COVID-related deaths reported in McLean County since the start of the pandemic. That includes the death of a man in his 20s that was reported last week. Manko indicated the man had underlying health conditions.

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Health News Roundup: U.S. CDC raises COVID-19 travel warnings for Czech Republic, Hungary; Britain to extend COVID booster rollout to over-40s and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Pressure on Dutch hospitals mounts as COVID cases break records

Dutch hospitals are feeling the strain from a surge in COVID-19 patients but the worst has yet to come, the head of the country’s hospital association said on Monday. The number of COVID-19 patients in Dutch hospitals increased to around 2,000 on Monday, including almost 400 in intensive care, reaching the highest level since May.

Washington state, in $95 billion opioid trial, blames drug distributors for crisis

Washington state’s attorney general on Monday argued that three large drug distributors’ excessive shipments of pain pills helped create the U.S. opioid epidemic, calling it the “worst man-made public health crisis in history,” at the start of a trial seeking $95 billion from the companies. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson made that argument as a trial got underway in the state’s bid to recover more money from the distributors McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen Corp than it would receive in a $26 billion nationwide settlement.

U.S. CDC raises COVID-19 travel warnings for Czech Republic, Hungary

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised against travel to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Iceland because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in those countries. The CDC raised its travel recommendation to “Level Four: Very High” for the three countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there.

Britain to extend COVID booster rollout to over-40s

Britain’s COVID-19 booster vaccine rollout is to be extended to people aged between 40 and 49, officials said on Monday, in a bid to boost waning immunity in the population ahead of the colder winter months. Currently all people aged 50 and above, those who are clinically vulnerable and frontline health workers are eligible for boosters, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said that the rollout would be extended.

Explainer-Delta dominates the world, but scientists watch for worrisome offspring

The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus now accounts for nearly all of the coronavirus infections globally, fueled by unchecked spread of the novel coronavirus in many parts of the world. So far, vaccines are still able to defend against serious disease and death from Delta, but scientists remain on alert. Here is what we know:

India’s Dr. Reddy’s open to making Pfizer COVID pill after Merck deal

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, one of a handful of Indian drug companies licensed to make a new COVID-19 pill developed by Merck, said on Monday it was open to making a similar pill from Pfizer, thought to be even more effective. The new drugs, which unlike vaccines can be used to treat patients once they contract coronavirus infection, are expected to be a huge market. Merck has given out licenses to manufacturers in developing countries to ensure a swift global supply, and companies are hopeful that Pfizer will do the same.

U.S. administers 442 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – CDC

The United States had administered 442,005,260 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Monday morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Those figures are up from the 440,559,613 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by Nov. 14.

Vaccines not linked to menstrual changes; COVID, flu shots can go together

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. No link seen between vaccines and menstrual changes

Austria locks down unvaccinated as COVID cases surge across Europe

Austria imposed a lockdown on people unvaccinated against the coronavirus on Monday as winter approaches and infections rise across Europe, with Germany considering tighter curbs and Britain expanding its booster programme to younger adults. Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic, prompting some countries to consider re-introducing restrictions in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.

Landmark opioid trial of 3 major pharmacy chains nears its end

A lawyer for two Ohio counties urged a federal jury on Monday to hold three major pharmacy chains responsible for fueling an opioid epidemic in their communities as the first trial the companies have faced over the drug crisis neared its end. Mark Lanier, a lawyer for Lake and Trumbull counties, told a federal jury in Cleveland that a verdict in the case against CVS Health Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and Walmart Inc would have ramifications all across the country.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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Coronavirus live updates: States sue Biden administration over vaccine mandate for health workers

If you’re vaccinated (and better yet, boosted) and considered low-risk for severe covid infection, staying in a house/vacation rental with family members who are also vaccinated and low risk is not much concern to health experts. Risks go up if you’re considered high risk, or someone else in the household is vulnerable (elderly un-boosted family members, unvaccinated kids). Risks go way up if people in the house are not vaccinated.

For hotels, the real risks are what you mentioned: busy lobbies, gym, crowded elevators — not the air between rooms. Mask up in public places, maintain social distance if you can and practice good hand hygiene along the way.

Natalie B. Compton

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COVID test positivity rate in Southern Health region soars

Surging COVID-19 cases and a nearly 15 per cent test positivity rate in southern Manitoba are the “tip of the iceberg,” sparking warnings the whole province will pay the price.

The spread of novel coronavirus in that region means Manitoba will likely have to add more public health restrictions and/or increase enforcement of the existing rules that limit the number of unvaccinated people who can gather, experts say.

The 14.5 per cent test positivity rate in the Southern Health region, revealed in provincial data Friday, is triple the provincewide number. It indicates there is a much wider spread that is undetected, said Winnipeg medical microbiologist Dr. Philippe Lagace-Wiens.

Test positivity in Manitoba, by region

Click to Expand

Reported on Nov. 3, 2021:

Southern: 14.5

Northern: 9.5

Interlake-Eastern: 5.3

Prairie Mountain: 4.8

Winnipeg: 2.0

It means too few tests are being conducted; too many people are not getting tested at all or are not getting tested until they are very sick and need to be admitted to hospital, he said.

“That’s very concerning because what it means is that there’s probably a large amount of people out there with minor symptoms who are potentially spreading the virus within their communities,” he said. “Basically, it suggests that we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg, that there’s probably a lot more community disease than we know about.”

It’s “worrisome” for the whole province, Lagace-Wiens said.

“We can’t stop people from travelling within the province… So how it’s going to affect all those nearby areas is a little bit more of an unknown.”

Case counts are climbing in every health region, even Winnipeg, where the majority of adults are vaccinated.

These charts show the five-day test positivity rate (top) and COVID-19 testing volumes among Manitoba’s regional health authorities over the last two weeks. Test positivity rates can be highly variable, particularly in regions with smaller populations, based on the number of tests conducted and whether there are communities in an active outbreak, provincial officials said. (Province of Manitoba)</p>

These charts show the five-day test positivity rate (top) and COVID-19 testing volumes among Manitoba’s regional health authorities over the last two weeks. Test positivity rates can be highly variable, particularly in regions with smaller populations, based on the number of tests conducted and whether there are communities in an active outbreak, provincial officials said. (Province of Manitoba)

“But I’m worried it’s not going to be enough to prevent an impending crisis. Our hospitals are quite full with COVID patients and, of course, with other patients who have all sorts of medical conditions,” Lagace-Wiens added.

“We may be finding ourselves in a precarious situation shortly.”

Such a high test positivity rate is three to five times what would be considered controlled spread of the virus. The overall test positivity rate in Manitoba reached 14.5 per cent near the peak of the third wave earlier this year, when 57 COVID patients had to be sent out of province for treatment because local ICUs were full.

“My hope is that we’re not looking at a provincewide set of restrictions, but the challenge is we’re a highly interconnected population and we can’t just assume that if we’re not in that region, we’re not at risk.”
— Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr

Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said looking at all of the indicators — test positivity rates, along with vaccination rates, case counts and hospitalizations — “It’s a pretty serious picture for that region, and we’ve got to look at ways to shut it down.”

“My hope is that we’re not looking at a provincewide set of restrictions, but the challenge is we’re a highly interconnected population and we can’t just assume that if we’re not in that region, we’re not at risk.”

Carr said restricting travel by region is likely not achievable. She urged the province to focus on tackling the misinformation fuelling vaccine hesitancy.

Winnipeg Epidemiologist, Cynthia Carr.


Winnipeg Epidemiologist, Cynthia Carr.

“Unfortunately, a targeted shutdown in a region is going to be something like a school or business. It’s going to impact certain people most significantly, while those people who aren’t vaccinated can just continue to travel and go somewhere else,” Carr said.

“So we need to, again, look at messaging: what do we need to do here to enhance credibility and trust within the region, shut down this info-demic of false narratives and continue to provide opportunities for people who are vaccinated?”

On Friday, Manitoba reported 130 new COVID-19 infections and three deaths. Of the cases, 64 were in Southern Health, home to the highest proportion of unvaccinated residents. The provincial average test positivity rate was 4.9 per cent.

<p>Manitoba Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon.</p>


Manitoba Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon.

A request to interview Manitoba’s health minister about the surge in Southern Health wasn’t granted.

Case numbers increasing week over week in the region “are concerning,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon said in a prepared statement. It acknowledged half of Manitoba’s ICU patients are Southern Health residents, but was careful not to point the finger of blame.

The government is closely monitoring the situation “across the province” and “changes to public health orders are always an option… We also recognize that there are some portions of the population who are not interested in following public health orders, being tested or being vaccinated. We are actively seeking ways to understand these groups and learning how we can provide information in a helpful manner that might bring change,” the health minister’s statement said.

“What will not work is being disrespectful, shaming or creating division. We should be talking and trying to work through the divisions with the best information we can.”

Manitoba’s new premier, Heather Stefanson.


Manitoba’s new premier, Heather Stefanson.

When asked Tuesday about the rising COVID-19 case count in Southern Health, newly sworn-in Premier Heather Stefanson said her government would take “any measure” to keep businesses in the region open. She planned to meet as soon as possible with chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin and would consult with cabinet and caucus, who met Wednesday, to discuss “how we want to see things moving forward.”

When the province revealed — for the first time Friday — Southern Health’s out-of-control test positivity rate, Stefanson’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“What’s going on in Southern Health doesn’t just affect Southern Health, it affects Winnipeg, it affects everyone across this province,” said NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara. “She needs to make decisions that recognize and reflect the reality for all citizens across the province, not just catering to the needs of a select few in a particular community.”

“Part of what’s concerning to me is we haven’t seen premier Stefanson come out with Dr. Roussin and provide Manitobans with a plan of action.”

Public health officials had repeatedly refused to disclose test positivity rates outside of Winnipeg, saying the data varied because of smaller population sizes. During a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said officials had reversed that decision and would make the data public.

[email protected]

[email protected]

Katie May
Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

   Read full biography

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Western Australia Sets 90% Vaccination Target for Reopening | Health News

By ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — While people are now able to travel freely in Australia’s more populated east, COVID-19-free Western Australia will maintain its tight restrictions into next year, state leaders said Friday.

Western Australia is the largest state, covering a third of Australia’s land area. It also has the nation’s lowest vaccination rates, in part because the state has had few infections and life has been relatively normal throughout the pandemic.

Western Australia is the only Australian state or territory that does not intend to reopen this year. Vaccinated Australians have been free to travel the world through east coast airports in coronavirus-affected Sydney and Melbourne since Monday when a 20-month-old international travel ban was lifted.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan on Friday set a vaccination target of 90% of the population aged 12 and older for the border restrictions to be relaxed. The milestone was forecast to be reached in late January or early February.

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McGowan said he would set a date for the state to reopen once 80% of the target population had been vaccinated, which is expected to happen in mid-December.

Once that reopening date was set, it would stand even if the vaccination rate fell short of 90% by then.

“As far as world standards go, a rate of 90% will be an amazing achievement,” McGowan said.

“Given our current vaccination rates, these targets are realistic and within our sights,” he added.

Only 63.7% of the target population in Western Australia was fully vaccinated, according to state data. Nationally, 79.6% of the population aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated, according to federal government data released on Friday.

Other states have or intend to substantially relax pandemic restrictions once 80% of their populations aged 16 and older are vaccinated.

Western Australia’s sparsely populated north has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

McGowan said parts of the state could be isolated by intrastate borders if their vaccination rates continued to lag. Such areas include the Pilbara region where the nation’s lucrative iron ore mining operations are based.

“Cutting off the Pilbara, or any region for that matter, is not something I want to do,” McGowan said.

“But if that’s what is required to protect the local community and local industries, then we will take that step based on the health advice at the time,” he added.

Government modeling showed that reopening that state at the 90% vaccination benchmark rather than 80% would mean COVID-19 cases occupying 70% fewer hospital beds, 75% few intensive care beds and 63% fewer deaths, McGowan said.

“The difference in easing border controls at 90% rather than 80% is 200 West Australian lives are saved,” McGowan said.

If the state falls short of the 250,000 additional people it needs to get vaccinated to reach the 90% target, additional pandemic measures will be required on the date it reopens, McGowan said.

Western Australia has accounted for only nine of Australia’s 1,781 COVID-19 deaths.

Four of those deaths were passengers and crew from the German-operated cruise ship MV Artania who were brought ashore for hospital treatment in the capital Perth. The state’s last COVID-19 death was reported in April 2020.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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