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Coronavirus: What we know today, May 4

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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

SA’s COVID-19 total unchanged

South Australia’s total number of coronavirus cases remains at 438 after a twelfth consecutive day with no new positive tests.

Chief medical officer Dr Nicola Spurrier confirmed this afternoon that 427 people, or 98 per cent of the total, have recovered from COVID-19 in SA, with just seven active cases remaining – unchanged from the previous day.

It comes as Premier Steven Marshall insists SA’s success during the pandemic would be a boon in a future economic recovery, telling reporters the state could “come into its own” with a “newfound confidence” in a post-COVID world.

“More people will be looking to move, post-COVID, to places where they feel safe and have an affordable lifestyle,” he said.

Hundreds end quarantine in Adelaide hotel

Australians who recently returned home from overseas held up signs expressing gratitude from the windows of an Adelaide CBD hotel after completing two weeks of COVID-19 quarantine.

Guests at the Pullman Hotel in Hindmarsh Square waved from their balconies and windows, some holding ‘Thank You’ signs, as they waited for buses to transport them back to the airport.

The 374 Australians were repatriated on a flight from India via Chennai two weeks ago and stayed in the hotel to complete the mandatory 14-days of isolation.

During quarantine, guests were regularly tested for coronavirus but did not return any positive results.

There are still 325 more Australians quarantining after a second mercy flight from India brought them to Adelaide almost two weeks ago.

Most of them are residing at the Playford Hotel while 20 remain at the Pullman.

SA business grants begin to flow

More than 1000 small businesses and not-for-profits impacted by COVID-19 restrictions will receive a one-off $10,000 emergency cash grant from the state government this week.

Restaurants, cafes, gyms and fitness studios, beauty salons, homewares stores, hairdressers and dentists are among those to benefit after having either suffered a significant loss of income or been forced to close as a result of COVID-19 and the necessary restrictions to help limit its spread.

The SA grants apply to those businesses with a payroll of less than $1.5m, and not entitled to a payroll tax waiver under COVID-19 support measures already introduced by the State Government (for businesses with payrolls of up to $4m). Eligible businesses must employ people in SA and have a turnover of more than $75,000.

Approximately 21,000 businesses and not-for-profits across SA initially registered their interest in the program. It’s estimated approximately 19,000 businesses will be assisted under the grants scheme, at a total cost of approximately $190m.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said there had been an overwhelming response to the cash grants – funded from the State Government’s $650m Jobs Rescue Package. So far, 5,759 businesses and not-for-profits have formally applied, having gathered the necessary documentation for consideration by Treasury (such as confirmed eligibility for the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program).

“We are doing everything in our power to help businesses get through what is the greatest economic challenge of our time,” he said.

“This week will see the first major tranche of cash grants going out the door and into the pockets of those who need it most – small business owners who are doing it incredibly tough at the moment just to pay the bills.

“These grants will go some way to helping them cover their ongoing or outstanding operating costs, such as rent, power bills, supplier and raw materials costs and other fees.

“It will also work hand-in-glove with the Federal Government’s significant stimulus measures, including the $1500-a-fortnight JobKeeper wage subsidy program, which keeps businesses connected with their employees.”

Lockdown lift talks as national cases remain low

Authorities will continue to look into easing COVID-19 restrictions across the country later this week as virus cases remain low.

In the 24 hours up to Sunday afternoon 18 new cases were reported, pushing Australia’s national total over 6800.

The national death toll from COVID-19 reached 95 on Sunday, following the death of an 83-year old in Western Australia and a 76-year-old resident at nursing home, Newmarch House in Sydney.

But Victoria recorded another 22 coronavirus cases overnight as community-wide testing ramps up.

There are now 1406 cases in total in the state, with 19 of the new cases connected to a meatworks outbreak.

Two new cases are returned travellers while one other case still being investigated.

So far 55,000 Victorians have been tested since it was opened to the wider public, 13,000 on Sunday alone.

Victoria’s state of alarm is set to finish on May 11, the earliest date the state government will consider relaxing current social distancing restrictions.

The NSW government said traditional property inspections and on-site auctions will be allowed from next weekend after a six-week limited shutdown due to COVID-19.

NSW now has 3035 COVID-19 cases with 14 people in intensive care including 11 who require ventilators. More than 2300 people have recovered from the virus in NSW. The state’s death toll sits at 44.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said moves to ease restrictions will be made slowly due to fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases.

“The lessons we have learnt from overseas is that if you go too quickly and open up things too quickly, you can get a second wave,” Prof Murphy said.

The national cabinet will on Friday consider lifting some broader curbs but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said relaxing restrictions would depend on Australians signing up for the COVIDSafe app.

Some 4.25 million people have now registered for the app after it was launched a week ago.

Australia’s borders to stay shut until further notice

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge says reopening Australia’s international borders is still a long way off.

“The main source of infections has been across those borders,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

Treasury is forecasting an 85 per cent reduction in migration in 2020-21.

84,000 new cases around world in 24 hours

The number of global coronavirus cases has surpassed 3.5 million, with deaths nearing a quarter of a million – although the rate of fatalities and new cases has slowed from peaks reached last month.

North America and European countries accounted for most of the new cases reported in recent days, but numbers were rising from smaller bases in Latin America, Africa and Russia.

Globally, there were 84,004 new cases over the past 24 hours, according to a Reuters tally that is based on official government data, taking total cases to just over 3.5 million.

That compares with around three to five million cases of severe illness caused annually by seasonal influenza, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Still, while experts say actual coronavirus cases are likely higher than current reports, the trajectory falls far short of the Spanish flu, which began in 1918 and infected an estimated 500 million people.

Deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, stood at 245,992. The first death was reported on January 10 in Wuhan, China, after the virus emerged there in December.

The daily rate of new cases worldwide has been sitting in a two to three per cent range over the past week, versus a peak of around 13 per cent in mid-March, prompting many countries to begin easing lockdown measures that have upended businesses and crippled the global economy.

The loosening of restrictions has proved controversial, as experts debate the best strategy to ensure there is no large “second wave” outbreak.

Claims China misled on outbreak to stockpile medical supplies

US officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents show.

Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security report.

The report is dated May 1 and was obtained by The Associated Press.

The revelation comes as the Trump administration intensified its criticism of China, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying on Sunday that China was responsible for the spread of the disease and must be held accountable.

The analysis states that, while downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies.

It attempted to cover up doing so by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data”, the analysis states.

The report also says China held off informing the World Health Organisation that the coronavirus was a contagion for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad – and that its imports of face masks and surgical gowns and gloves increased sharply.

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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