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- Intensive care nurse tests positive
- Two new cases but easing restrictions “many weeks away”
- State records two new infections, including a staff member at a private school
- Country papers in doubt
- Predictions that Australia’s jobless rate will double
- Singapore records biggest daily jump
- Around the world, in brief
Intensive care nurse tests positive after working with COVID-19 patients
An intensive care unit nurse at the Royal Adelaide Hospital who has been working with COVID-19 patients has tested positive for the virus.
SA Health said today the nurse, aged in her 20s, was in isolation at home.
‘The nurse became mildly symptomatic late on 10 April 2020, was tested on 12 April 2020, with the positive test result returning yesterday,” the department said.
“To date, 23 close contacts have been advised to self-isolate. This includes 22 RAH staff, predominantly nurses and two doctors, as well as other one other close contact. Investigation by the Communicable Disease Control Branch is ongoing.
“There is not expected to be any impact to patient care at the RAH with sufficient staffing continuing to be available.”
The nurse is one of two new confirmed cases for SA today, with both cases aged in their 20s, for a total of 433 – 253 of whom have recovered.
Chief medical officer Dr Nicola Spurrier said the number of ‘community transmission’ cases in SA had been downgraded from five to four, while the number of people hospitalised was also reduced to 11.
Of those, four men remain in ICU, with just one in a critical condition.
Premier Steven Marshall today also enthused that SA has secured 1.7 million pieces of personal protective equipment [PPE], a shortage of which has been “one of the critical constraints on our system”.
More country newspapers in strife
The country’s largest regional media company will stop publishing some of its newspapers and stand down workers as it grapples with coronavirus.
Australian Community Media, which owns 16 regional newspapers in South Australia and intestate titles including The Canberra Times and the Newcastle Herald, will also shut down printing sites.
“We cannot sustain the same level of useful work or costs moving forward,” ACM boss Antony Catalano told staff on Tuesday.
ACM’s Murray Bridge print facilities will close from April 20 until June 29, but it isn’t clear what will happen to the group’s South Australian titles or staff.
The group owns newspapers across regional SA, from the South-East, to Kangaroo Island to Port Lincoln.
Catalano said the company had “no choice but to temporarily cease some of our publications and temporarily close our printing sites in Canberra, Murray Bridge, Wodonga and Tamworth from April 20 until June 29”.
“Regrettably, this means that for some of our employees across the business there will be no useful work available, and they will be stood down from work in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Work Act.”
SA schools to open in term two
South Australian parents have been reassured that term two will continue as usual for students who wish to attend school.
Education Minister John Gardner says as long as advice from health officials allows schools to remain open, they will do so.
But he says parents who wish to keep their children home because of concerns over the coronavirus will also be supported.
“Where families are able to supervise their children’s learning in their home environment then we are supporting them to do so,” Gardner told reporters on Tuesday.
“The difference for term two will be the model of teaching which will have a more flexible approach in meeting the needs for those students learning from home.”
He said the SACE board will make a decision on delaying Year 12 exams in the middle of the year but a delay was not proposed at this time.
SA schools are due to start term two on April 27.
Easing virus restrictions ‘many weeks’ away
Australians are being warned the restrictions put in place to contain coronavirus will be in place for many more weeks, despite the nation’s infection curve improving.
The number of Australians infected with COVID-19 has risen to 6366 and 61 people have died.
State and federal leaders will meet later this week to discuss when restrictions can be relaxed.
“I do want to caution Australians that we’re not in that phase yet … we’re many weeks away from being in a place like that,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Seven’s Sunrise on Tuesday.
He said any lifting of restrictions would need to be backed up by a strong health system and even stronger testing regime.
“You’ve seen in places like Singapore and Sweden and other parts of the world where the virus has just taken off again,” he said.
As the Royal Adelaide Show was today called off for the first time since World War Two, Premier Steven Marshall confirmed there was “a very, very limited likelihood that there would have been any lifting of the restrictions regarding mass gatherings” by September.
SA looks at broader testing
South Australia may widen its testing criteria for COVID-19 as efforts continue to clear the virus from the state.
Deputy chief public health officer Mike Cusack says a wider testing regime is a “definite possibility”, but it still needs to be targeted.
“We are determined to try to clear the virus from South Australia and I think that may well be part of the strategy,” he said.
SA already has one of the strongest testing regimes across the country and across the world with more than 36,000 tests conducted.
Unemployment predicted to double
Australia’s jobless rate is tipped to nearly double to 10 per cent for the June quarter because of the coronavirus pandemic, new Treasury analysis shows.
But Treasury estimates the unemployment figure could have hit 15 per cent without the $130 billion JobKeeper payment.
In February, before the pandemic led to major shutdowns and mass standdowns of workers, the jobless rate was 5.1 per cent.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says more than 800,000 Australian businesses have registered for the JobKeeper payment.
“Every arm of government and industry is working to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business,” he said on Tuesday.
“The economic shock facing the global economy from the coronavirus is far more significant than what was seen during the global financial crisis.”
But Australia continued to hold its AAA credit rating, one of only ten countries to do so, Mr Frydenberg said.
Australians will get the first taste of what the pandemic has meant for unemployment when March labour force figures are released on Thursday.
Economists’ forecasts centre on an unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent for March, compared with 5.1 per cent in February.
Predictions range as high as 5.9 per cent, a level not seen since early 2016.
Singapore records biggest daily increase
Singapore’s health ministry has confirmed 386 more cases of coronavirus infection in the city-state’s biggest daily jump, taking its total to 2918.
The country, which is under partial lockdown to try to curb a recent surge in infections, also reported its ninth death from the disease on Monday.
A large number of the new cases are linked to outbreaks in migrant workers’ dormitories.
Singapore has quarantined thousands of workers in dormitories after they were connected to several cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease.
To date, a total of 586 people have fully recovered from the infection, the health ministry said.
The world in brief
Italy curve flattens as deaths hit 20,000: The number of deaths related to the coronavirus has passed 20,000 in Italy but the country hardest hit by the outbreak in Europe has reported a slowing increase in new infections.
Deaths pass 10,000 in US hotspot New York: New York’s coronavirus death toll has topped 10,000 only about a month after the US state recorded its first fatality, Governor Andrew Cuomo says.
UK coronavirus deaths rise above 11,000: The death toll from COVID-19 in British hospitals has risen to 11,329 as the government – without its recuperating leader Boris Johnson – faced questions over its handling of the outbreak and the impact on the economy.
Macron extends France’s lockdown until May: French President Emmanuel Macron says he is extending a virtual lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak until May 11, adding that progress has been made but the battle has not yet been won.
Many allowed to return to work in Spain: A slight relaxation of lockdown laws in Spain has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to return to work.
WHO urges caution over return to normality: The World Health Organisation has once more advised extreme caution in easing strict measures put in place across the globe to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
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
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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