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Coronavirus: What we know today, March 24


Follow this post for rolling updates on the impact of the coronavirus in South Australia, the nation and the world, as well as the latest health information and links to official advice.

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Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.


SA hits 170 cases as 600 people get tested

South Australian cases of COVID-19 have increased to 170, with 36 new cases reported by SA Health on Tuesday.

SA Health said it had contacted roughly 600 people for testing. including a cluster of five people who had attended Lyndoch Hill Winery in the Barossa.

The state’s chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier urged all people who had attended the winery since March 14 to self-isolate and get tested.

She said among the new cases was what might be the first community transmitted case.

She said a woman in her 50s was being tested after close contact with people from overseas, none of whom showed symptoms of coronavirus at the time of contact.

Spurrier said the department was also contacting people who attended a function with Senator Rex Patrick, after he tested positive for COVID-19, to check for symptoms.

SA schools seek reinforcements

The state’s Education Department is scouring its reserve list of registered teachers for reinforcements as it plans to keep schools open amid the escalating coronavirus crisis.

It comes as the teachers’ union demands SA schools close as early as this week until at least the end of the looming Term 1 holidays to enable alternative teaching models to be developed for the longer-term.

Casual and relief staff across the state have been sent emails from the agency telling them: “As a teacher currently registered on the department’s Employable Teacher Register, we are contacting you to check your availability to teach for the department at this current time”.

Read the full story here.

Meanwhile, the State Government says it is spending $5 million to boost hygiene in schools, including increasing contract cleaning.

The Government is delivering extra supplies of products including hand sanitises, paper towels and more, as the Education Minister John Gardner revealed this morning that 13 of the state’s public school sites had reported a lack of supplies.

The Education Department has established a central distribution point “with orders already having gone to sites that have indicated a shortage”.

Cabaret Festival cancelled

The coronavirus crisis has forced the cancellation of this year’s Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which was preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary with the final program curated by current artistic director Julia Zemiro.

Zemiro said the festival was now working on ways to take the cabaret platform online.

“Cabaret has always been a way for artists to express political commentary and satire in a way that uplifts audiences and perhaps that’s what we need at this time,” she said. “Watch this space…”

Full story here.

UK orders people to stay home

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered people to stay at home, escalating an already unprecedented clampdown on daily life to try and halt the spread of coronavirus.

Deaths from the virus in Britain jumped by 54 to 335 on Monday as the government said the military would help ship millions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks to healthcare workers who have complained of shortages.

“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home,” Johnson said in a televised address to the nation, replacing his usual daily news conference.

Johnson said people would only be allowed to leave their homes for basic necessities: exercise, for a medical need, to provide care or travelling to and from work where absolutely necessary.

“That’s all – these are the only reasons you should leave your home,” he said, adding that people should not meet friends or family members who do not live in their home.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

Govt’s Centrelink apology after “maybe a million” left jobless

Thousands of people have again formed long queues outside Centrelink offices around the country.

Monday’s coronavirus-prompted shutdown of pubs, restaurants and arts and events-based and other businesses has left the government grappling with just how many hundreds of thousands of workers might now be jobless.

The government today urged people wanting Centrelink services to avoid queueing and go online, despite the MyGov website crashing yesterday after unprecedented demand.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert initially blamed the collapse on denial of service hacking, but later admitted the portal shut down after it was overwhelmed by masses of people now out of a job going online.

“I probably should have waited for the investigation before jumping the gun,” he told 2GB radio on Tuesday.

“We prepared over the weekend for 55,000 … I didn’t think I’d have to prepare for 100,000 concurrent users.

“My bad not realising the sheer scale of the decision on Sunday night by national leaders that literally saw hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, people unemployed overnight.”

Read the full story here.

IOC member: Games decision already made

International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound believes the IOC has already decided to postpone the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The IOC has given itself four weeks to decide on the future of this year’s Games, which are due to start on July 24.

But in a newspaper report Pound said the Games were likely now to be held in 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound told USA Today on Monday.

“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Australia and Canada withdrew from the Games on Monday as organisers faced global pressure to postpone the Olympics for the first time in their 124-year modern history.


Local updates and resources

SA Health:

National advice and information

Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080


Australian Government travel advice:

Check your symptoms

Free, government-funded, health advice:

– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters

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