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Coronavirus: What we know today, April 13

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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.

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

Key points

Two new cases today, including St Peter’s Girls’ School staff member

SA Health has reported two new cases of COVID-19 today, taking South Australia’s total number of cases to 431.

Deputy chief public health officer Michael Cusack said one of the new cases was a staff member at St Peter’s Girls’ School’s Early Learning Centre and 10 students and four staff members had been asked to isolate themselves.

The staff member became symptomatic just over 24 hours after they had finished work, so may have been infectious while at the ELC.

Cusack said 240 people in SA had now fully recovered from COVID-19.

He said 13 people were in hospital, with six in intensive care, one of whom was in critical condition.

Cusack said it was too early to consider lifting restrictions on social contact and business activity.

While the low number of new cases reported in South Australia since late last week was encouraging, he said there was still cause for concern, including a cluster at Adelaide Airport connected with Qantas staff.

“I think it would be wrong to imply we are over the back of this and we’ve seen the worst,” Cusack said.

“We’ve also seen in the past week the effects the virus can have and I don’t think we should underestimate the risk to the public if we withdraw restrictions at too early a stage.”

Neither of the new cases was connected to the Ruby Princess cruise ship or the Qantas cluster.

About 750 Qantas staff at the airport will self-quarantine for two weeks amid concerns COVID-19 has spread from baggage handlers to other workers.

The airline cluster still stands at 34 today, including 18 baggage handlers, 13 of their close contacts and three other Qantas staff.

There are concerns for people who worked as airport duty managers, pilot and cabin crew managers and for people in an area used by engineers.

The Transport Workers’ Union said it was compiling a dossier of evidence on how Qantas allowed the virus to spread at Adelaide Airport which it would submit to SA Health and SafeWork SA in the coming days.

“The evidence we have gathered so far shows that Qantas knowingly exposed other workers to the coronavirus after it became clear that a worker at Adelaide Airport had contracted the virus,” South Australian branch secretary Ian Smith.

“Instead of directing workers who had been in contact with that worker to self-isolate, Qantas directed staff to continue coming to work.”

Qantas said it would comply with the self-isolation directive and would continue to work closely with SA Health to identify workers who might have come in contact with the virus.

The airline said staff impacted by the directive included cabin crew, pilots, customer service staff, engineers and baggage handlers.

It said some employees had already served all or the majority of the required quarantine period and all staff would continue to be paid for their period of self-isolation.

Source: SA Health

Source: SA Health

Virus hotline expanding

South Australia’s coronavirus hotline capacity is to be expanded, with 850 new staff in training this week.

The intake will increase the capacity from 15 to 100 operators on duty, seven days a week for 12 hours a day.

The hotline, which provides information on symptoms, testing criteria, workplace and border restrictions and reassurance has taken 15,000 calls within the last three weeks.

Premier Steven Marshall says bolstering the hotline will help defeat “public enemy number one”.

The public servants seconded to the hotline would undertake training over the next week before staffing the service.

“In the fight against the coronavirus, the public needs to have access to accurate information from a trusted source and that is precisely what the coronavirus hotline is delivering,” he said.

The number to call for assistance is 1800 253 787.

Virus restrictions reviewed within weeks

Australia is in a good position in the fight against coronavirus but must maintain the pressure, the nation’s chief medical officer says.

More than 6300 Australians have been infected with coronavirus and 61 people have died.

Two more deaths were recorded overnight but there were only 33 new cases in the past 24 hours.

While the coronavirus infection curve is flattening, Professor Brendan Murphy says it is still too early to relax strict social distancing rules.

“The scale of measures at the moment are something that we clearly do have to review … but it’s not now, it’s within the next few weeks,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“I think we need to look at all of the data, look at our preparedness, and the national cabinet will be making a lot of decisions about what, if anything, can be relaxed in the coming weeks.”

The low number of new infections could be due in part to less testing over Easter.

Most people complied with demands from political and health authorities not to travel over the long weekend.

However, fines were issued in several states after people either ignored or flouted the rules and travelled anyway.

Looking forward, Murphy said he would be very concerned if social restrictions were relaxed before public hospitals were fully prepared and the country had enough personal protective equipment.

“The thing that worries us most at the moment is complacency,” he said.

“Every single community transmission that’s undetected can infect a lot of people, and that’s why it is so important that we do maintain measures for the time being.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned it would be “very dangerous and unrealistic” to remove social distancing restrictions too soon.

Boris Johnson leaves hospital, comedian dies

Tim Broke-Taylor (right) with fellow “Goodies” Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden. The comedian has died after contracting COVID-19.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says “it could have gone either way” for him while he was in hospital being treated for COVID-19 last week.

“It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS (National Health Service) for saving my life,” he said in a video message posted on Twitter on Sunday, shortly after it was announced he had been discharged from St Thomas’ hospital in London.

He thanked everyone in Britain for following social distancing guidelines and said he believed the efforts being made by the whole country were worth it.

The prime minister said he had personally “seen the pressure the NHS is under” while at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London for the past week.

Also in the UK, comedian and actor Tim Brooke-Taylor has died after contracting coronavirus, his agent has confirmed. He was 79.

“It is with great sadness that we announce Tim’s death (on Sunday) from Covid-19,” his agent said in a statement.

“Joining Footlights in 1960 took him to providing a huge variety of splendid entertainment – television, radio, theatre, film, books, DVDs, CDs, quizzes, etc – all of which he undertook with energy and a great sense of fun.

“We will remember him for so much but must just mention The Goodies and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.

“He had, of course, many fans whom he always treated cheerfully even after long and exhausting rehearsals and recordings.

“He was an exceptional client and a pleasure to represent.

“We’re grateful that we have so much of his work to view, read and listen to.

“In all the time with us and in all his showbiz work, he has been supported by Christine, his wife.”

Fellow Goodie Graeme Garden said: “I am terribly saddened by the loss of a dear colleague and close friend of over 50 years.

“Tim and I met at Cambridge University in the early 1960s and have enjoyed working together almost constantly from that time onwards, on radio, stage, and TV.

“He was a funny, sociable, generous man who was a delight to work with.

“Audiences found him not only hilarious but also adorable.

“His loss at this dreadful time is particularly hard to bear and my thoughts are with Christine, Ben, Edward and their families.”

It was as one of The Goodies, alongside Garden and Bill Oddie, that he found international fame, earning household name status in Australia and New Zealand and attracting millions of viewers in its heyday.

US coronavirus death toll tops 21,300

Easter Sunday was spent under lockdown across the US as the country’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 21,300.

In the latest sign of the disruption wrought by the disease, one of the country’s largest pork processing plants was shuttered after workers fell ill, and its owner warned the US was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers.

“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” Smithfield Foods chief executive Ken Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday.

With almost everyone kept indoors under stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the disease, many turned to online church services to mark the holiest day in the Christian calendar.

The United States has recorded more fatalities from the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus than any other country in the world.

Roughly 2000 deaths a day were reported for the last four days in a row, the largest number in and around New York City.

Even that is viewed as understated, as New York is still figuring out how best to include a surge in deaths at home in its official statistics.

As the death toll has mounted, President Donald Trump mulled over when the country might begin a return to normality.

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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