Restrictions in NSW will tighten
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says restrictions on movements would be increased if the rate of infection did not slow.
“If we don’t see things shifting in the numbers because of those actions, NSW will have to go further,” she said.
“I just want everyone to be prepared for that.”
Testing criteria will be broadened
More Australians can now be tested for coronavirus as even tighter restrictions come into place to slow the spread of the illness.
Anyone with a fever or acute respiratory infection who works in health care or aged care can now be tested for the virus.
So too can people living in areas with an elevated risk of community transmission, or where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases.
This takes in aged and residential care, rural and remote Aboriginal communities, detention centres, boarding schools, and military bases that have live-in accommodation.
The Australian Medical Association says the testing criteria should be even broader, so as to better understand the virus.
Australia has been placed into an even tighter lockdown as governments desperately try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Further restrictions on businesses, community facilities and public spaces came into effect at midnight.
Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie wants the nation to go into a full lockdown by midnight Friday.
“For goodness sake prime minister, we don’t want any more 35 minutes of your dribble, please make a decision that a leader would make,” she told Nine.
“Play it safe mate and put us into lockdown unless it is for essential services, please.”
Existing restrictions will inevitably lead to wider job losses as more businesses are forced to close.
Unprecedented scenes of thousands of people queuing at Centrelink offices around the country have underscored the scale of the issue.
Economists predict 814,000 Australians will be added to dole queues before the end of June.
A total of 2431 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Australia on Wednesday.
Australia’s death toll rose to nine after a 68-year-old man died in Queensland.
Of those with the virus, 197 people are in hospital with 17 in intensive care.
More than 169,000 people have been tested so far.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said one sick person could lead to 400 more contracting the disease within a month if they didn’t stick to distancing and quarantine measures.
All non-urgent elective surgery has been put on indefinite hold in a bid to free up capacity across the hospital system.
“The most urgent message … is to stay home if you’re sick, ” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“Our instruction (to healthy people) is, more generally, stay home unless you’re going out for essentials.”
The government is sending text messages telling Australians: “Stop the spread, stay 1.5m from others, follow rules on social gatherings, wash hands, stay home if sick”.
Open house inspections and auctions are banned, as are personal services such as beauty therapy, waxing, tattoo parlours and massage.
Most community facilities will also close, including libraries, swimming pools, RSL clubs, galleries and community centres.
Weddings will be restricted to the couple, celebrant and two witnesses only, but funerals are allowed a maximum of 10 mourners.
State governments will also be policing social gatherings in public spaces and in people’s houses.
The government has also used biosecurity laws to ban Australians from travelling overseas.
G20 needs to lift their game
G20 leaders will convene virtually this week to discuss the COVID-19 crisis.
One hopes that the emergency summit marks the beginning of a thoughtful collective response to this grave challenge.
If so, the meeting may turn out to be even more consequential than the London summit hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in April 2009, which created the framework for a coordinated multilateral response to the global financial crisis.
Having chaired the United Kingdom’s global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), I cannot help but think that the current crisis demands a similar undertaking to bring together infectious-disease modelling, economic analysis, and evidence-based solutions.
Read the full opinion piece here.
The world’s most famous AIDS researcher joins fight against COVID-19
Robert Langreth, Susan Berfield
It seems obvious now that David Ho, arguably the world’s most famous AIDS researcher, would get involved in seeking a treatment for COVID-19.
It seems obvious that he would redirect the work of his several dozen scientists at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Centre.
That he would, as he says, “rob Peter to pay Paul” to get started with funds meant for the lab’s HIV studies.
That he would receive $US2.1 million ($3.7 million) from the Jack Ma Foundation in Hangzhou, China, without even asking and an additional $US6 million from other private donors, among them a few very concerned businesspeople.
But in late December, when Ho was tracking reports of a few cases of unexplained pneumonia in Wuhan, it wasn’t obvious he’d be needed.
“We were paying attention but didn’t think we would get involved. It seemed rare – and over there,” he says.
Read the full story here.
Virgin boss says every airline will need government bail out
Virgin Australia’s chief executive Paul Scurrah has warned the virus outbreak will drain $436 billion out of the global airline industry and has said no airline in the world will survive without government support.
“If it goes for too long, there won’t be an airline that will survive without government intervention,” Mr Scurrah said on ABC’s Radio National this morning.
Mr Scurrah said he had been in talks with the federal government last week about an agreement to support any Australian airline that finds itself on the brink of collapse.
“We are advocating for industry support so everyone gets through this,” Mr Scurrah said.
On Wednesday, Virgin announced it was standing down 8000 employees and was cutting 90 per cent of domestic flights.
Mr Scurrah said he was technically on “leave without pay” but was essentially working without a salary.
Welcome to The Australian Financial Review‘s live virus blog, where we’ll be bringing you updates all day about how the pandemic is affecting business, politics and people, and what we can do in response.
Here’s what you need to know this morning:
A Queensland man, 68, has died from coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to nine. He had been a passenger on the Royal Carribean cruise which docked in Sydney last week. Read the full story here.
Italy has kept the growth in new COVID-19 cases in the single digits for a third straight day, with confirmed cases rising 7.5 per cent yesterday. Read the full story here.
To catch up on our overnight coverage of the virus, click here.
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