News digest: Regional Vic on road to recovery and the possibility of life on Venus

Sep 17, 2020
Regional Victoria is making their way across the roadmap to recovery and are finally able to travel again. Source: Getty.

Today in the news, regional Victoria celebrates a small win as it finally entered step three of its coronavirus roadmap to recovery at midnight last night. The significant move now means that residents of regional Victoria are able to travel once again and can even pass through Melbourne to do so. However, the health department recommended they shouldn’t be stopping in Melbourne for anything except buying necessities, and when they enter the Covid-19 hotspot, they’re under Melbourne’s rules meaning the curfew and group restrictions still apply. But with no more stay-at-home requirements, this also means day trips to the beach, long hikes, camping, going out for dinner, outdoor sports and larger weddings and funerals are now permitted, according to the ABC. However, masks still remain mandatory throughout the state.

Meanwhile, with about 25,000 Australians still stranded overseas looking to return home, the Federal Government has announced plans to increase the number of arrivals from 4,000 per week to 6,000, according to 9news. Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Michael McCormack said he has written to premiers and chief ministers with NSW, Western Australia and Queensland governments all indicating they would lift their number of arrivals by 500 and South Australia by about 360. McCormack added he would like to see the increases reflected in Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT but it was too early to start international travel again in Victoria.

And now moving away from Covid-19 and heading all the way into the solar system, BBC reported this week that astronomers are now considering the extraordinary possibility that there are living organisms floating in the clouds of planet Venus after detecting a gas they couldn’t explain. The gas is phosphine which is made up of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms. On Earth, this gas is associated with life with microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins or in oxygen-poor environments such as swamps, but why the gas is being found on Venus is a mystery to experts.

According to the ABC, a proposed science mission has been put forward to a NASA panel to send a robotic probe to Venus to determine whether or not it actually harbours life. Researchers will know in April if the mission has been approved to go ahead.

Meanwhile, there’s been big changes to the Australian citizenship test which has been updated for the first time in more than a decade to include a section on Australian values, according to SBS. The new test will ask would-be Aussies questions such as: “Should people in Australia make an effort to learn English?” and “In Australia, do religious laws override Australian law?” More confronting questions include asking the participants whether it’s acceptable for a husband to be violent towards his wife if she has disobeyed or disrespected him. The new test will have 20 multiple choice questions that require the applicant to correctly answer all five of the questions on values with a total mark of at least 75 per cent to pass.

And finally, there have been calls from health professionals around the world to scrap daylight saving with warnings that turning clocks forward for a period of the year can have significant health impacts that are amplified now by the pandemic. News.com.au reported that experts have said there are more heart attacks, road accidents and workplace accidents just after daylight saving. Additionally, there’s more cognitive dysfunction in relation to daylight savings and the change in timing to normal body rhythms.

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