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Coronavirus: What we know today, April 29

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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

Seven days without a new recorded infection

South Australians are again being encouraged to download and begin using the COVIDSafe app in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus, with the state recording seven days without a new infection.

Premier Steven Marshall said the contract tracing app, which launched on Sunday, was the state’s “ticket out of the pandemic” and he hoped every South Australian would download it.

COVIDSafe has so far been downloaded three million times across the country.

Meanwhile, South Australia recorded its seventh consecutive day with no new cases of coronavirus infection.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the announcement was a “landmark for us”.

It comes as the number of active virus cases in SA continues to fall with just 14 people now considered to be still battling the disease.

Altogether SA has had 438 confirmed cases, including seven cases with evidence of community transmission.

Spurrier said one person who had been in intensive care was no longer in a critical condition and was being treated in the ward.

One person – a 68 year-old man – remains in ICU in a critical condition.

Following a move to lift special restrictions on the Barossa Valley region, north of Adelaide, on Tuesday, Spurrier said she was looking to meet with SA’s regional leaders and begin discussing easing regional travel restrictions within the state.

However, she said it was too early to say when this would occur, urging South Australians to “please be patient”.

Source: SA Health

Source: SA Health

BreastScreen services resume with new equipment

BreastScreen SA services will resume this week, after being temporarily closed on March 30, with the service adding new technology to some of its sites during the closure.

BreastScreen’s general manager, Niamh Wade, said services will resume tomorrow.

“The easing of restrictions means we can resume the service using strict health protocols and can continue to provide this important screening service to South Australian women aged 50-74,” Wade said.

“During the temporary closure, we began introducing new x-ray machines at our Hyde Park, Adelaide Central Plaza (David Jones Rose) and Arndale breast screening clinics and in our three mobile screening units. Due to these changes, the reopening of these clinics will commence in the coming weeks.

“Our further four metropolitan screening clinics will begin screening from Thursday, with mobile screening units scheduled to return to Murray Bridge in mid-May, Millicent in early June and Berri in mid- June.

“Clients who were due for their regular screening mammogram during the COVID-19 suspension period will be contacted via phone and offered a priority booking.”

Appointment times will be longer to account for social distancing and hygiene requirements.

Low numbers of infections not the only measure of success: PM

Scott Morrison believes returning to work and school will be crucial wins against coronavirus as Australia prepares to lift restrictions to live with the deadly disease.

The prime minister said the nation’s great success in flattening infection rates did not mean victory over the pandemic.

“We don’t want to just win the battle against COVID-19 but lose a broader conflict when it comes to the economy and the functioning of our society,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Just one new case of the virus was detected from unknown sources in the most recent 24-hour statistical period – the second day in a row with a single case.

The nation’s death toll rose to 89 on Wednesday after a woman in her 80s died in Victoria, while more than 5600 of the 6741 people diagnosed with coronavirus nationally have recovered.

“If we were to consider our success on COVID-19 as just having a low number of cases, that is not good enough,” Morrison said.

The prime minister nominated having the protections in place to enable people to return to work and children attend classrooms as important benchmarks in the battle to restore society.

“Of course there will continue to be additional cases, of course there will be outbreaks – that’s what living with the virus will be like,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Mick Tsikas / AAP

What’s next?

State and territory governments have begun to relax some rules, while national cabinet meetings in mid-May loom as crucial to lifting further restrictions.

More than 2.8 million people have downloaded and registered for the government’s coronavirus tracing app less than three days after it was released.

Morrison urged those signed up to encourage two or three other people to download it, likening the app to wearing sunscreen outside.

“That is Australia’s ticket to a COVID-safe Australia where we can go about doing the things we love doing once again,” he said.

Numbers of people on the dole have skyrocketed, with more than 800,000 applications for the JobSeeker payment processed.

A new mental health coordination plan is due to be delivered to the national cabinet of federal and state leaders next week.

Diplomatic tensions with China have reached new highs as Australia continues to push for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.

Morrison denied it was a move directed at Beijing, saying the inquiry would be in the global health interest.

“It is not a remarkable position. It is a fairly common-sense position and one that we don’t resile from,” he said.

An extra 10 million coronavirus test kits have arrived in Australia, which amounts to about a 20-fold increase in testing capability.

Banks will begin sending out free debit cards to customers who don’t have them to help with online shopping.

 

Source: Australian Department of Health

Major supermarkets are easing purchase limits on items that were subject to panic buying including toilet paper, rice, pasta and hand sanitiser.

West Australian schools will reopen on Wednesday amid sustained federal pressure on the other states to return children to classrooms.

Victoria and Queensland are refusing to budge while NSW is forging ahead with plans to increase face-to-face learning from May 11.

Source: Australian Department of Health

Elite sport on the agenda

State and federal leaders will have their next national cabinet meeting on Friday after last week committing to developing guidelines for elite sport.

Debate around when the AFL and NRL should restart their competitions is continuing but football’s return will likely be guided by government principles.

Sport Minister Richard Colbeck said he was hopeful the national cabinet’s sport guidelines would be ready at the end of the week.

“We want to see all levels of sport recommence as soon as possible,” he told the ABC.

He said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee-led principles would include professional, Olympic and community sport.

More than 2.4 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe tracing app that uses Bluetooth interactions to record close contacts.

The government is encouraged the strong early take-up will result in the goal of 10 million being reached, boosting the scheme’s effectiveness.

NSW will from Friday allow two adults to visit another house for any reason, regardless of how many people live there.

Queenslanders will be permitted to travel up to 50 kilometres from home for picnics, visiting parks or non-essential shopping from Saturday.

US virus cases top one million

The United States’ death toll from the novel coronavirus has exceeded the 58,220 American lives lost during the Vietnam War as cases topped one million, according to a Reuters tally.

US cases have doubled in 18 days and make up one-third of all infections in the world, according to the tally.

The actual number of cases is thought to be higher, with state public health officials cautioning that shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing capacity.

About 30 per cent of the cases have occurred in New York state, the epicentre of the US outbreak, followed by New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania.

The US death toll since the first death recorded on February 29 reached 58,233 on Tuesday, up more than 2000 from the prior day.

The outbreak could take more than 74,000 US lives by August 4, compared with an April 22 forecast of over 67,600, according to the University of Washington’s predictive model often cited by White House officials.

Globally, coronavirus cases top three million since the outbreak began in China late last year.

The US, with the world’s third-largest population, has five times as many cases as the next hardest-hit countries of Italy, Spain and France.

Of the 20 most severely affected countries, the US ranks fifth based on cases per capita, according to a Reuters tally.

The US has about 30 cases per 10,000 people. Spain ranks first at over 48 cases per 10,000 people, followed by Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

The coronavirus deaths in the US fall short of the approximately 100,000 Americans killed by seasonal flu in 1967, according to the CDC.

It is also far less deadly than the Spanish flu, which began in 1918 and killed 675,000 Americans.

OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION

Local updates and resources

State Government central information

SA Health

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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