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18 new coronavirus cases in SA
South Australia has 18 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in the state to 385, according to SA Health’s latest update on Thursday afternoon.
Chief Public Health Officer for SA Health Nicola Spurrier said seven people – all men aged between 52 and 77 years – were in intensive care at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, five of whom were in a critical condition and two who were stable.
She said a cluster relating to Adelaide Airport included 12 Qantas baggage handlers as well as five people who had been in close contact with the airport workers.
People who visited the Adelaide Airport terminal and car park in the past 14 days and who develop coronavirus symptoms are advised to get tested and self-quarantine for 14 days.
There were three additional cases linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship, bringing the number from cruise ships to 114.
The new cases ranged in age from a person in their teens to late 70s.
Spurrier said of the total number of South Australian cases, 44 people had recovered from the disease and she was “very cautiously” optimistic that the number of positive infections was down from 30 new cases yesterday.
Meanwhile, SA Department for Education Executive Director Anne Millard said Henley High School would remain closed for at least 24-hours while it underwent “deep cleaning”.
She expected Pennington Primary School to reopen for the start of semester two.
Childcare will be free for parents still using it during the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today.
The Federal Government will also support the nation’s 13,000 childcare centres to remain open in the wake of enrolment and attendance numbers plummeting.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said child care was an essential service to keep all parents who still had jobs in the current economy in that work.
He said around one million families are set to receive free childcare during the coronavirus pandemic, with the Government to pay 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap.
Full story here.
Henley High closed
The Education Department has closed Henley High School after a student was diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The Department for Education has enacted its COVID-19 protocol and shut the site for a minimum of 24 hours,” the department said this afternoon.
“Parents and carers are currently being contacted and the school is releasing students to go home in a manner agreed by parents/carers.”
Flinders Medical Centre upgrade brought forward
The State Government has brought forward the $45.7 million expansion of the Flinders Medical Centre Emergency Department by four months.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the decision would help the state’s health system cope with the months ahead.
“By bringing forward service moves from August to April 2020, our doctors and nurses will be able to have a dedicated space to assess and treat patients with coronavirus, as well as other emergency presentations,” he said.
Catholic schools offer fee relief
South Australian Catholic schools will suspend education fees for three months for families financially impacted by COVID-19.
The total fee remissions apply for the 86 schools governed by the Archdiocese of Adelaide and the Diocese of Pt Pirie with immediate effect.
Catholic Education SA director Neil McGoran said school fees should not be one of the many concerns families have at present.
“Our students matter to us. Every parent can know that we are here to help support them in this challenging time,” McGoran said.
“We are preparing for remote learning from Term 2 where lessons will be provided online and pastoral care will be provided in different ways.”
Maps show infections by local government area
The State Government started publishing “heat maps” overnight, showing coronavirus infections in South Australia.
The maps appeared on the SA Health website late yesterday.
They show the residential areas in which people live who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, not where the infection was acquired.
The rudimentary maps show that Mitcham council area has the highest number of residents with confirmed infections, with between 30 and 34, followed by Charles Sturt and Marion council areas, each with 25-29 cases.
Several other states have been providing “heat map” data through the pandemic crisis.
Labor’s health spokesman Chris Picton questioned why it took so long for the government to publish the maps.
“We welcome finally the release of this data,” he said. “It is disappointing it took so long to get to this point.”
“This certainly will make residents in areas like Mitcham and Marion pay even closer attention to the requirements of social distancing and handwashing.”
The maps can be found online here.
Pharmacy employee tests positive
A staff member of the Findon branch of National Pharmacies has tested positive for coronavirus.
Health Minister Stephen Wade said this morning that the case appeared to be connected to the Adelaide Airport cluster of infections among Qantas baggage handlers.
The employee and other staff are in isolation.
National Pharmacies CEO Vito Borrello said the Findon store was forensically sanitised overnight and is being staffed today by team members from other pharmacies in the group.
“All others who worked with the staff member in the period that she was infectious are in isolation at the direction of SA Health and are being tested for COVID-19 as appropriate,” he said.
“We continue to work closely with SA Health to identify anyone else who may have had contact with the team member who tested positive.”
Commercial rent relief on the way?
Australia’s governments are reportedly threatening to allow businesses under pressure from the economic impact of the coronavirus to break leases with their commercial landlords.
A national cabinet of federal, state and territory governments will meet on Friday to consider how to help commercial tenants struggling with their rent.
But the lease break solution may not get up if landlords come to the party and re-negotiate rental terms with their tenants, The Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday.
The most likely solution is that the cabinet will agree to the part-deferral and part-waiver of commercial rents through the lifting of land tax and council rates, the Nine-owned outlet added.
Global virus cases approaching one million
The head of the World Health Organisation has voiced deep concern about “the rapid escalation and global spread” of the coronavirus that has reached 205 countries and territories.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that his agency, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund backed debt relief to help developing countries cope with the pandemic’s social and economic consequences.
“In the past five weeks there has been a near-exponential growth in the number of new cases and the number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week,” Tedros told a virtual news conference in Geneva where the UN health organisation is based.
“In the next few days we will reach 1 million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths worldwide,” he said.
China, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged in December, reported dwindling new infections on Wednesday and for the first time disclosed the number of asymptomatic cases, which could complicate how trends in the outbreak are read.
Its latest figures excluded 130 new sufferers of the highly contagious disease who do not show symptoms, its statistics showed.
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Local updates and resources
SA Health: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVID2019
Mental health support line (8am to 8pm): 1800 632 753.
National advice and information
Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080
Government information via WhatsApp: click here
Australian Government travel advice: smartraveller.gov.au
Check your symptoms
Free, government-funded, health advice: healthdirect.gov.au
– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters
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