Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.
- SA prepares to move to wider testing
- No new cases, one ICU case in SA
- Police Commissioner relaxes restrictions on cellar doors and breweries
- IMF issues a dire prediction for the global economy
- 6400 Australians have caught the virus
- Global infections approach two million
Wider testing in South Australia
South Australia will broaden its COVID-19 testing regime, as flagged this morning, with a two-week “testing blitz” from tomorrow.
Premier Steven Marshall told media this afternoon SA had “amongst the highest testing per capita of anywhere in the world”, but a low rate of increase for confirmed cases combined with a drop-off in people seeking tests has allowed the state to broaden its criteria.
“Anybody in the community here in SA who has any of the symptoms associated with coronavirus can go off to one of our 54 rapid testing and assessment clinics and be tested,” Marshall said.
“This is a great opportunity to provide assurance to the community of SA that we’re doing everything we possibly can to be the safety place possible to be living during this global pandemic.”
At the moment, testing is restricted to a number of categories, such as people who have travelled overseas or interstate in the past 14 days and have symptoms, people who have been in contact with confirmed cases, or symptomatic people who have been in known hotspots.
Chief public health officer Dr Nicola Spurrier urged anyone with acute respiratory symptoms to get tested.
“I’d also encourage people who have just got mild symptoms – it might be a cough, a sore throat, a runny nose or a bit of shortness of breath – we’d like to have you tested,” she said.
“If you’ve just got a fever, it might also be worth having testing done… it’s reassurance – for me as chief public health officer but also you as an individual.
“We’re going to be really encouraging people in SA to take this opportunity.”
Drive-through clinics still require a referral from a GP.
SA Pathology has conducted more than 38,000 tests for COVID-189 since February, almost 2000 tests per million people in SA.
SA Pathology clinical service director Dr Tom Dodd said the blitz would give authorities a better idea of the extent of community transmission, but said he didn’t expect to see it widespread.
There were no new cases recorded in SA today, leaving the state’s total unchanged at 433, after two new cases were confirmed yesterday.
Of that total, 279 people have recovered – 64 per cent of all cases – with 10 people hospitalised.
Just one of those is in intensive care, a 68 year old man who remains in a critical condition.
Restrictions on cellars doors and breweries eased
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens – who is also the State Coordinator under the Emergency Management Act – has decided to ease restrictions on wineries and breweries.
Under an order made in March, Stevens banned wineries and breweries from selling alcohol and food from their premises.
This caused concern, particularly among some operators in the Adelaide Hills such as Sidewood Cellar Door at Hahndorf and the Prancing Pony brewery at Mt Barker, who were already suffering from the bushfires and had sought to reshape their businesses.
Today, Stevens said these premises would now be able to trade in a similar way to restaurants and cafes.
“The new Direction now aligns wineries, cellar doors, breweries and distilleries with restrictions currently in place for hotels, restaurants and similar businesses,” he said. “This means wineries, cellar doors, breweries and distilleries can sell alcohol, food or other products on a takeaway basis from the premises.
“Tastings of any kind are not permitted and consumption of any produce, alcohol or food is not permitted on site.
“Social distancing restrictions for people attending wineries, cellar doors, breweries and distilleries remain unchanged and must be complied with.”
Australian politicians unlikely to take virus pay cut
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has signalled federal government ministers won’t follow their New Zealand counterparts in taking a pay cut.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced all ministers and public service chiefs will take a 20 per cent pay cut for six months.
Frydenberg played down suggestions Australia should follow suit.
“We have frozen the pay increases for politicians here and for public servants,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“That’s the action we have taken.”
Ardern said the pay cut was about showing leadership rather than making a meaningful change to the budget.
“It’s an acknowledgement of the hit many New Zealanders are taking right now,” she said.
IMF predicts dire global recession
The economic impact of the COVID-29 pandemic is predicted to result in the “worst recession since the Great Depression”, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is confident Australia will rebound faster than most other countries.
The International Monetary Fund, in its 2020 World Economic Outlook released overnight, forecasts the global economy to fall three per cent in 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis – compared with a fall of 0.1 per cent in 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.
It is predicting a partial rebound in 2021, with the world economy growing at a 5.8 per cent rate, but said its forecasts were marked by “extreme uncertainty”.
“It is very likely that this year the global economy will experience its worst recession since the Great Depression, surpassing that seen during the global financial crisis a decade ago,” the IMF said in its report.
“The Great Lockdown, as one might call it, is projected to shrink global growth dramatically.”
The IMF expects the Australian economy to contract by 6.7 per cent this year, more than double the fall for the global economy, before rebounding in 2021.
The IMF’s forecast of 6.1 per cent growth in the Australian economy in 2021 would still leave it in negative growth for the first time since 2019.
Frydenberg said the rebound in growth is faster than the IMF is forecasting for the economies of the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Latest Australian statistics
- 6400 Australians have caught the virus, with 3598 having recovered.
- Australian deaths: 62 (26 in NSW, 14 in Vic, four in Qld, six in WA, six in Tas, two in ACT, four in SA). 18 were passengers on the Ruby Princess.
Latest developments in brief
- Australia’s jobless rate is expected to reach 10 per cent for the June quarter based on Treasury analysis.
- The International Monetary Fund has forecast a 6.7 per cent blow to the Australian economy due to the coronavirus pandemic which is the biggest reduction since the Great Depression.
- Qantas and Virgin are closing in on a multi-million dollar deal with the federal government to support flights between capital cities.
- Two more Qantas rescue flights will bring home Australians stranded in Argentina and South Africa this week.
- Australians could soon have their mobile phones tracked using applications which monitor people with coronavirus.
- The criminal investigation into the Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle will take another five months to complete.
- The prime minister has berated the World Health Organisation for supporting China’s decision to reopen live animal markets, considered the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The world in brief
Global infections: The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that infections had “certainly” not yet peaked. Nearly two million people globally have been infected and more than 124,000 have died in the most serious pandemic in a century, according to a Reuters tally. The epicentre has shifted from China, where the virus emerged in December, to the United States, which has now recorded the most deaths.
G7 to discuss coronavirus in video meeting: US President Donald Trump will convene a video meeting of G7 leaders on Thursday to co-ordinate responses to the coronavirus, the White House says.
US virus death toll doubles in one week: US deaths from the coronavirus have topped 25,000, doubling in one week, according to a Reuters tally as officials debated how to reopen the economy without reigniting the outbreak.
Italy daily virus death toll climbs by 602: Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy has risen by 602, up from 566 the day before, posting a second consecutive daily increase but new infections slowed to 2972 from 3153 in the smallest daily tally since March 13.
France virus death toll passes 15,000: France has officially registered more than 15,000 deaths from coronavirus infections, becoming the fourth country to go beyond that threshold after Italy, Spain and the United States.
Morrison calls for schools to remain open
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken to social media to ask the nation’s teachers to keep classrooms open, especially for the children of essential workers who cannot be effectively homeschooled.
“We cannot allow a situation where parents are forced to choose between putting food on the table through their employment, to support their kids and their kids’ education,” he says in the message.
“We will lose many things in the course of fighting this virus. One thing that I know teachers are united on, with their parents, is we do not want one of those things to be the loss of a child’s education, giving up a whole year of their learning.”
He thanked teachers for their efforts to keep classes going, in many cases online, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“I want teachers to know from me, both as a parent and as a prime minister, just how appreciated you are and how important the job is that you’re doing right now and how much you are needed,” he said.
In Victoria, term two for schools resumes today but most students will be learning from home. Victoria’s chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton this afternoon appeared to rebuff Morrison’s message with a social media post of his own.
This is because having around a million children and their parents in closer contact with each other, teachers and other support staff has the potential to increase cases of coronavirus not just in schools but across the community. 2/3
— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) April 15, 2020
Morrison had said the expert medical advice remained that the coronavirus risk remains very low for children attending school, but the health of teachers was a priority.
“Quite rightly, state and non-government education authorities are working on how to support and protect those teachers who continue with classroom learning, or having other arrangements in place for them.”
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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