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Coronavirus: What we know today, April 7

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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. Today, South Australia records its first death from COVID-19.

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SA records first death from COVID-19

The family of South Australia’s first victim of COVID-19 has released a statement paying tribute to him.

Seventy-five-year-old Francesco Ferraro, known as Frank, died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital last night.

“Mr Ferraro was a loving husband and father to three children and grandfather to eight,” said the statement, released by SA Health on behalf of the family.

“Soon after returning from an interstate family event in March 2020 he felt unwell and learnt he had contracted the COVID-19 virus.  He was soon admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital where his condition deteriorated.

“Despite the best efforts of the medical professionals and staff and the love and support of his family he passed away on Monday 6 April 2020.

“My father’s interactions which caused the spread of the virus were nothing outside what a family or group of friends would experience.

“The family would like to take this opportunity to implore all South Australians to abide by and comply with all the advice and directions given by the government and police.”

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said the death emphasised just how serious the virus could be.

“This is not just a statistic, it’s a person who has been a real integral part of a family,” she said.

“A very much beloved, father, husband and possibly grandfather as well.”

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the death was a reminder of the deadly nature of the virus.

“… this does serve as a stark reminder that we are dealing with a treacherous enemy that we can’t see and, sadly, I don’t think this gentleman will be the last person who will die as a result of COVID-19,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

Premier Steven Marshall said he had written to Mr Ferraro’s family to pass on the condolences of everyone in SA.

“This is a very sad day for our state,” he said.

Speaking after a national cabinet meeting, the Premier said it had been agreed to “nobody will be lifting restrictions” demanding strict social distancing measures.

“We’re still far too early in this disease to be lifting restrictions,” he said.

Late on Tuesday afternoon, SA Health confirmed a further four positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 415. One of those four was linked to the ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship, another to a cluster linked to Adelaide Airport baggage handlers, and a third to likely community transmission.

SA has 18 patients in intensive care, with six in a critical condition.

Of the 415 confirmed cases, 89 have now recovered.

SA Police to patrol Easter holiday spots

South Australians planning to travel over the Easter long weekend should expect a prominent police presence, ensuring they comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said officers will patrol holiday destinations, ensuring those who travel against the advice to stay home comply with social distancing and crowd gathering rules.

“Some of these holiday destinations have communities in an older age bracket and those older people are concerned about this,” the commissioner said.

“We shouldn’t be doing anything that raises concern or fear in our community.”

He said police would investigate if they are advised of breaches, with those who flout the rules being handed $1000 on the spot fines.

So far, nine people have been fined and 13 were given written warnings.

Commissioner Stevens said police assessed a person’s effort to comply and judged if there was a misunderstanding or minor breach of obligations.

“When we find someone is blatantly disregarding those requirements or there are repeated instances, that’s when someone should expect the $1000 fine.”

About 2900 random checks were made on those required to self-quarantine or self-isolate, with only five found to non-comply.

While 15,500 business premises have been inspected, only 121 broke the rules.

Australia dodges worst-case scenario

Strict social distancing measures have prevented Australia’s intensive care units from being overwhelmed by up to 35,000 coronavirus-stricken patients.

Doherty Institute modelling provided to federal and state leaders and released publicly on Tuesday looked at a worst-case scenario based on international experience.

It showed if no action had been taken to stop the spread of the disease, around 23 million people, or 89 per cent of the population, could have been infected.

Under that scenario, the health system would have crumbled and just 15 per cent of people who needed intensive care would have been able to access it.

The modelling prompted the strong social measures now in place across the country, with gatherings, travel and economic activity curtailed.

It showed the strain on the system could be massively reduced if Australia turned to quarantine and social distancing.

As a result of those measures, the infection curve is trending in the right direction and authorities are cautiously confident the health system will cope under the strain of the coronavirus.

Now the modelling effort will turn to Australian data in coming weeks, as health chiefs mull when restrictions may be relaxed.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed the data released so far does not equate to a prediction.

“The modelling work is theoretical,” he said on Tuesday.

“It is not based on Australian case data and does not model Australian responses.

‘The modelling does not predict what will happen in Australia. It does not tell you how many Australians will contract the virus or how many Australians will succumb to that virus.”

Boris Johnson in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to an intensive care unit after his coronavirus symptoms worsened, and his Downing Street office says he is still conscious.

Britain has no formal succession plan should the prime minister become incapacitated, but Johnson, 55, asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him.

Johnson was admitted to hospital on Sunday night and had been undergoing tests after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature, for more than 10 days.

Downing Street had said he was in good spirits and still in charge, though he was moved to an intensive care unit – where the most serious cases are treated – at St Thomas’ hospital, across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament in central London.

Johnson had received oxygen, a source said.

“Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital,” a spokesman for his office said.

“The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary,” Downing Street said.

“The PM remains conscious at this time.”

Downing Street said he had been moved to the ICU as “a precaution should he require ventilation to aid his recovery”.

Johnson tested positive for the virus on March 26.

US death toll passes 10,000

The death toll from the coronavirus in the United States has passed the 10,000 marker, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

The country has the highest confirmed positives in the world, with more than 347,003 cases of the virus and 10,335 deaths related to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by it.

Public health officials and the White House are warning the upcoming weeks will likely result in peak coronavirus outbreaks and hospitalisations in the US, with the death rate also set to sharply climb.

There are growing signs of impending shortages of medical gear and staff.

The US had just 1000 confirmed cases and about 30 deaths on March 10, with the outbreak spreading rapidly and across the country.

New York is the current epicentre while Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois and California are also hotspots, with more due to emerge.

OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION

Local updates and resources

State Government central information: https://www.sa.gov.au/

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

Travel

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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