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Coronavirus: What we know today, April 20

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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

Restrictions under review after SA’s COVID-19 ‘trifecta’

For the third day in a row, South Australia recorded no new COVID-19 cases on Monday, capping off what chief public health officer Dr Nicola Spurrier called “a trifecta, perhaps”.

“This is in the context of many more tests being done,” she added, saying SA’s testing ‘blitz’ had seen almost 100 people tested on every day since Thursday, with 968 yesterday setting a new record for tests done on a Sunday in SA since the pandemic began.

“If we were getting very low numbers but our testing rate was dropping, we’d be concerned,” Spurrier said, adding authorities were now undergoing “intensive planning to see what restrictions should be lifted”.

She said this would be likely to include elective surgeries in the first instance, although a time-frame remains unclear, with Premier Steven Marshall urging caution and Spurrier noting “there may be times [in the future] when we need to put the brakes on again”.

SA’s COVID-19 total remains at 435, of which 369 have recovered.

Six people remain in hospital, with two in intensive care – a 68 year-old man and a 75 year-old man, both of whom are in a critical condition.

“Whilst we’re feeling very happy we have, again, no new cases, our thoughts go to the families of those two gentlemen,” Spurrier said.

The nation as a whole had only eight new coronavirus cases on Monday, from three states.

First of evacuation flights lands in Adelaide

The first of two flights bringing Australian citizens home from India has landed in Adelaide.

The Lion Air flight touched down on Monday morning carrying more than 370 passengers after leaving Chennai and travelling through Denpasar.

It was met by police and SA Health officials.

From Adelaide Airport, the repatriated Aussies have been taken by buses to the Pullman hotel to begin a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

A second flight, carrying about the same number of people, is expected in Adelaide from Mumbai on Tuesday.

Dr Spurrier said the arrivals had been tested after they disembarked and will be monitored daily for symptoms.

She said three people had been required hospitalisation – one of whom had since been cleared and the other two with pre-existing conditions not linked top COVID-19.

“There was no-one at all during that initial screening that had any symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” she told reporters on Monday.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said about 45 officers would monitor the building to ensure people don’t leave prematurely.

“Given the excellent results we’ve seen in terms of limiting the spread of the virus in South Australia, we’re taking the security of these people extremely seriously,” Stevens said.

Premier Steven Marshall said he felt “very proud that SA is playing our part in this national repatriation mission”.

Read more here.

COVID-19 hits working hours

Nearly a quarter of Australian adults with a job are working fewer hours due to the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has found.

At the same time, 12 per cent of Australians are working more hours than usual because of COVID-19, the Australian Bureau of Statics said on Monday.

Of those working fewer hours, 60 per cent said there had been a reduction in work available, while 15 per cent said they had been stood down by their employer.

The ABS surveyed 1059 people aged 18 and over via telephone between March 31 and April 6 to gain a snapshot as to how Australian households are responding to the pandemic.

“The survey found that around 3.0 per cent of people who had a job in early March no longer had one by early April,” said Michelle Marquardt, ABS program manager for household surveys.

The survey isn’t comparable to the official measures of Australia’s labour force, however.

The vast majority of survey respondents – 98 per cent – said they were practising social distancing, 88 per cent said they were avoiding public spaces and events and 17 per cent said they were wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of the virus.

While the virus has proven to be significantly more lethal in men than women, the survey indicated males are worried about it less than females.

More than 20 people fined over Adelaide car get-together

Twenty-three people have been fined for congregating in cars in an Adelaide street in breach of coronavirus restrictions.

Police were called to a dead-end street in Burton, in the city’s north, just before 10.30pm on Saturday after reports 13 cars had gathered there and drivers were performing burnouts.

Twenty-three people were fined and one person was cautioned for being in a non-essential gathering under the COVID-19 restrictions, police said.

Gatherings of more than 10 are banned in South Australia during the coronavirus pandemic, and police have the power to issue $1000 on-the-spot fines.

Last week three people were fined over a birthday party attended by at least 17 people in Coober Pedy.

Govt virus tracing app key to restarting the economy

A coronavirus contact tracing app has been linked to restarting Australia’s economy amid grim warnings about soaring unemployment because of the pandemic.

Think tank the Grattan Institute has released a new report predicting the jobless rate could go as high as 16 per cent, despite $130 billion in wage subsidies.

The Morrison government has set a series of benchmarks for economic restrictions to be gradually eased, with state and federal leaders due to make a call in mid-May.

Among the goals is a 40 per cent take-up rate of an app that uses phone interactions to trace when people with coronavirus have come into contact with others.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said the software would help to allow a restart of economic and social activity.

“It’s going to allow us to get back to life quicker,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

“It will allow us to get back to the footy quicker. It will allow us to get back to work quicker.”

Robert has moved to allay privacy fears surrounding the app after some government MPs said they wouldn’t sign up.

Grattan found between 17 and 28 per cent of Australians – 2.2 to 3.6 million people – could be out of work in the coming weeks.

With the JobSeeker scheme taken into account, they predict the unemployment rate will be between 10 and 16 per cent.

Elective surgery resumption on the agenda as national curve flattens

Elective surgery is likely to be on the agenda when federal, state and territory leaders meet to discuss COVID-19 on Tuesday or Thursday, Health Minister Greg Hunt confirms.

Such surgeries could resume at an earlier date than had previously been thought possible because the federal government has secured more personal protection equipment for healthcare workers, he said.

That includes an extra 100 million masks set to be distributed over the next six weeks.

He says he is hopeful the nation’s medical expert panel and the national cabinet can make decisions on elective surgery within the week.

“In particular I know that the prime minister and myself have been very focused on IVF as an important and indispensable treatment,” Hunt said on Sunday.

“So we are hopeful that over the course of this week, there will be some positive news.”

Health workers have also been reminded again to stay at home if they are sick after recent COVID-19 breakouts in North West Tasmania and a residential aged care facility in NSW were linked to ill staff.

US coronavirus death toll passes 40,000

The death toll from the new coronavirus in the US has passed the 40,000 mark, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The country reached 20,000 deaths on April 11, indicating a sharp uptick despite emerging signs the rate of infection has started to flatten in key areas.

New York, the epicentre, is seeing a downward trajectory in its daily fatality toll.

The US remains the hardest-hit country, with nearly a quarter of all deaths reported globally.

However, methodology and capacity differ across countries, making comparisons inexact.

The US now has over 742,000 confirmed cases, though testing shortages persist.

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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