As it happened: NSW Health is recommending masks on public transport as COVID cases rise in the state; PM to attack global trade pact

Top news of the day

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Thanks for joining me on the blog this afternoon. I'm done now and wish you all a great night.

If you just follow the news, here are the main headlines:

Floods in NSW had broken records in 1952, with one person confirmed dead, another missing and reports of unidentified bodies. Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said he wanted to ban new development on floodplains.

At COP27, Australia and India are leading discussions on rich countries providing financing to poor countries to reduce emissions and help them deal with the effects of climate change, while Tuvalu has announced plans to double down in the metaverse.

NATO believes the Soviet-made missile that hit the Polish village was fired by Ukraine while defending itself from a Russian attack.

COVID cases rose 52.8 per cent week-on-week in NSW, prompting health authorities to recommend masks on public transport. A study raises the outlook for between 160,000 and 500,000 Australians with longstanding COVID by December.

Tuvalu plans to replicate itself in the metaverse

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Circling back to the COP27 climate talks, Tuvalu has announced plans to replicate itself in the metaverse, to ensure survival should the nation be lost to rising sea levels in the real world.

Tuvaluan Foreign Minister Simon Kofe said Tuvalu plans to build a digital version of itself, replicating islands and landmarks and preserving its history and culture as rising sea levels threaten to submerge the small Pacific island nation.

Tuvalu will be the first digital country in the metaverse – an online realm that uses augmented and virtual reality to help users interact.

The city of Seoul and the island nation of Barbados last year said they would enter their respective metaverses to provide administrative and consular services.

Kofe drew global attention at last year's COP26 when he addressed the conference knee-deep in the sea to illustrate how Tuvalu is at the forefront of climate change. The Lachlan River flood in NSW broke records in 1952

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Speaking of extreme climate and weather events, let's briefly turn to the NSW floods. There's a separate blog on flooding if you want to follow more closely.

The Lachlan River in Condobolin was measured at 7.41 meters this morning - higher than the famous flood of 1952 that was often talked about as a benchmark during this flood event.

The Bureau of Meteorology estimates the river's height could reach 7.60 meters at the Condobolin Bridge on Saturday.

Flood levels in 1952 have also been exceeded at Cottons Weir and Euabalong.

In Forbes, the peak of major flooding is expected to remain around 10.70 meters on the Forbes Iron Bridge through the weekend, as locals brave the deep water through their homes and are transported into town by boat.

NSW Police drew public attention after bodies were spotted in flood waters in Eugowra on Monday morning.

A police officer was helping an elderly woman trapped in a flood when she saw the body of a man, whom he described as being in his 20s, with Caucasian appearance, slim build and blond hair. The police officer was unable to leave the old woman and she lost sight of her body.

NSW Police are urging the public to let them know if anything is missing and matches the description.

Police are also looking for missing Ljubisa 'Les' Vugec, 85 years old, who was last seen at his home in Eugowra at around 9am Monday.

The body of missing 60-year-old Diane Smith was found yesterday, marking the first death from the current flood crisis.

Australia and India are leading talks on climate finance for poor countries

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

In case you missed it, Nick O'Malley has a great story explaining the delicate negotiations that took place at COP27 over whether rich countries should pay poor countries for reducing emissions and for the damage they have done.

Australia was at the center of all of this, with Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen asked to lead discussions with his Indian counterpart.

O'Malley wrote:

This put Bowen at the heart of the beast that has become the talk of the UN climate, just as he is pursuing a bid for Australia to host its own climate summit with Pacific island nations in 2026. And he is doing so outside of one of Australia's key key events. international partner, India.

At the Glasgow talks, only coal was targeted for reduced use, but this week India called for oil and gas to be targeted for reductions along with coal in any COP27 agreement that is finally reached.


The Biden dispute claims that the missile that hit Poland did not belong to Ukraine

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

Remaining in Ukraine for a while, US President Joe Biden disputed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's comments that the missiles that landed in Poland did not originate from Ukraine.

"That's not the proof," Biden told reporters at the White House today, after returning from the G20 summit in Bali.

NATO and Poland have concluded a missile that hit a Polish village and killed two people may have been a stray bullet fired by Ukraine in self-defense as it was under heavy Russian fire at the time.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said it was probably an accident.

"From the information that we and our allies have, it was a Soviet-made S-300 rocket, an old rocket [in use by both sides] and there is no evidence that it was launched by the Russian side," Duda said. "It is very likely that it was fired upon by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses."

Zelensky denied this and called for a full investigation, with Ukrainian investigators included on the team, before a decision is made.

Regardless, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia was still to blame because it was the aggressor in the war.

"This is not Ukraine's fault," he said. "Russia bears primary responsibility for continuing its illegal war against Ukraine."

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