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Coronavirus: What we know today, April 18

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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

No new cases in SA

SA Health has confirmed there are no new cases of COVID-19 in South Australia today, with the state’s total sitting at 435.

Around 79 per cent of people have recovered from their infections across the state, leaving only 89 people with active COVID-19.

Seven people remain in hospital with two in intensive care. One of those – a 68-year-old man – is listed as critical.

There remain four cases with no known epidemiological link.

Around 4000 people were tested for coronavirus on Thursday and Friday following the launch of a two-week “testing blitz” across the state.

SA chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said the results were encouraging.

“We are not losing the war, we are in a really good place in South Australia,” she said.

“South Australians are coming forward when they’ve got symptoms and getting tested at the right time.

“However, it is not over yet and we need to keep our foot down on COVID-19 and make sure we do everything we can as individuals to get rid of it.”

Two flights of returning citizens to arrive at Adelaide Airport

Two flights of stranded Australian citizens returning home will land at Adelaide Airport earlier next week.

The State Government confirmed around 440 passengers are expected to arrive from India, via Indonesia, on Monday.

A second flight carrying another 400 passengers is expected to land on Tuesday morning.

All passengers will undergo health tests at the airport and only those cleared will be transported to a city hotel, where they will complete a compulsory 14-day quarantine.

SA Police will have a 24/7 presence at the hotels, along with additional security, to ensure returning Australians abide by the current quarantine restrictions.

“All operational measures have been put in place to enforce the returning citizens’ 14-day
quarantine period and ultimately keep South Australia safe and strong,” Premier Steven Marshall said.

“South Australia’s successful plan to slow the spread of the disease puts this state in a strong
position and we have meticulously planned and prepared to manage these arrivals.”

Face mask testing to begin in SA

A face mask testing facility will be established in Adelaide to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Australian-first initiative aims to safeguard the production of around 145 million respirator and surgical masks produced by the Detmold Group in Brompton.

The facility will be established using laboratories at Flinders Tonsley and UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus.

It comes after SA Health withdrew more than 600,000 N95 facemasks earlier this week amid safety concerns over their performance when splashed with liquids.

The batch of masks were later deemed “compliant with all relevant Australian and international standards”.

“Face masks such as the respirator P2/N95 and level 3 surgical masks need to be tested to strict manufacturing standards to protect frontline health workers, and usually testing is undertaken in the United States, taking around three weeks,” SA Health Minister Stephen Wade said.

“With this new testing facility, we will be able to deliver this medical equipment to hospitals within weeks, substantially faster than previously.”

Police fine party-goers for breaching restrictions

SA Police have issued fines to attendees of a party in Whyalla on Thursday morning for breaches of COVID-19 restrictions.

Police said they found 13 adults drinking on a backyard porch just before 11am.

All 13 people attendees, including the two hosts, were issued with expiation notices for breaching crowd gathering directions.

Eventual virus rules easing to start small

When Australia’s strict social distancing measures are eased authorities are likely to start small before building up to bigger changes.

But current restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus will remain in place for at least another four weeks.

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly says easing restrictions is a matter of finding a balance between the biggest benefit with the least amount of risk.

“I would imagine that starting small and building up would be the principle that would be taken there,” he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

“Cafes and restaurants and so forth are an important part of our social fabric and so we’d certainly be looking closely at that.”

The government has set three main benchmarks which must be met before any changes to restrictions are made.

They are a broader testing regime, better contact tracing and greater capacity to respond to local outbreaks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says a contact tracing app will initially be rolled out on a voluntary basis, but hasn’t ruled out making the software mandatory if not enough Australians sign up to make it effective.

The government is hoping for at least 40 per cent of the population to sign up.

“My preference is to give Australians a go at getting it right,” Morrison told Triple M.

“That’s my plan A and I really want plan A to work.”

Wet markets must conform to standards: WHO

Any “wet markets” that are allowed to reopen after coronavirus lockdowns must conform to stringent food and hygiene standards, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has told a briefing.

Suspicion has fallen on a market selling live animals in the Chinese city of Wuhan as the possible origin of the new coronavirus.

“When these markets are allowed to reopen, it should only be on condition they conform to stringent food and hygiene standards,” Tedros said on Friday.

“Governments must rigorously enforce bans on trade of wildlife for food.”

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

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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