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Coronavirus: What we know today, May 16

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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 government expands its COVID capacity

The South Australian government is preparing for a second coronavirus wave and expanding its pediatric emergency department capability, despite having no new or active cases.

The portable ward at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide will make way for nine new beds to respond to a surge in cases or other respiratory illnesses in children during the coming months.

Premier Steven Marshall said he hoped the site was not needed to be activated.

He said there were a number of places around the world that were in the same situation as SA, having no or low COVID-19 cases, only to have a spike weeks later.

“We have worked so hard to get to where we are at the moment and we have to continue,” he said on Saturday.

The extension will be connected to the hospital via an external corridor.

The portable beds, costing the federal government $900,000, can be moved to other South Australian hospitals to respond to future events if necessary.

No infections were reported on Saturday with only one new case confirmed over the past 24 days.

The state’s total remains at 439.

Royal Adelaide Hospital has been SA’s main coronavirus facility with 18 people admitted in its intensive care unit.

One person remains in hospital but is no longer infectious.

It was announced on Friday that the state no longer had any active cases, but it was wrong to be considered “coronavirus-free”.

Source: Department of Health, States and Territories Report 15/5

India open to Adelaide hosting Test series

Virat Kohli and his team will be open to playing the entire Test series against Australia in a ‘bio-secure’ Adelaide Oval, according to a top Indian Cricket Board official.

India are scheduled to play four Tests and three one-day internationals in December and January on a tour reportedly worth A$300 million in broadcast revenue for Cricket Australia (CA).

Australia vice captain Travis Head on Thursday backed the idea of playing the entire test series behind closed doors at Adelaide Oval, where an on-site hotel is under construction, to ensure it goes ahead amid restrictions forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The boys would be very keen to go back to the field,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) treasurer Arun Dhumal said in an interview with Reuters.

“If the situation allows only one venue for all the matches, so be it. Maybe when lockdown is lifted, it would be the new normal that everyone has to follow.

“There’s talk of matches without spectators. Nobody would like that, but if it comes to that and there’s no other way, one may have to do that.”

“It’s still six-seven months down the line. We’ll take the right call in the best interest of the safety and health of our boys.”

National picture in brief

CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

Public warned as virus restrictions ease

Several European countries where coronavirus infections have slowed have eased border restrictions while the US reported a record drop in retail sales and infection flare-ups in Mexico and elsewhere served as a reminder the pandemic is far from over.

Slovenia, which has been gradually easing strict lockdown measures, on Friday declared that the spread of the virus is now under control and that European Union residents could now enter from Austria, Italy and Hungary.

Germany prepared to open its border with Luxembourg at midnight and to increase the number of crossings open from France, Switzerland and Austria. Travellers will still need to demonstrate a “valid reason” to enter Germany, and there will be spot checks, but the goal is to restore free travel by June 15.

In the US, retail sales tumbled by a record 16.4 per cent from March to April as business shutdowns caused by the coronavirus kept shoppers away from stores. The Commerce Department’s report on retail purchases showed a sector that has collapsed so quickly that sales over the past 12 months are down a crippling 21.6 per cent.

The head of the World Health Organisation’s Europe office, Hans Kluge, warned that distancing guidance and other protective measures were more important than ever.

“It’s very important to remind everyone that as long as there is no vaccine and effective treatment, there is no return to normal,” he said on French radio Europe-1.

“This virus won’t simply disappear, so the personal behaviour of each of us will determine the behaviour of the virus. Governments have done a lot, and now the responsibility is on the people.”

UK virus reproduction rate rises slightly

The reproduction rate of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom is now somewhere between 0.7 and 1.0, government scientific advisers say.

Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the rate was 0.5 to 0.9. The government has said it will keep a close eye on the so-called “R” rate as it looks at how quickly to ease lockdown measures.

As the number is below one, the virus is not spreading exponentially, but the rise in the number means that infections are falling more slowly now.

Government scientific advisers said the outbreak was now concentrated in hospitals and care homes and the reproduction rate was subject to substantial regional variation.

Just 49 people were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 in London on Thursday.

Figures from the government published earlier on Friday showed the number of people who have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive was 33,998 by Thursday afternoon.

A total of 236,711 people had tested positive for the virus as of Friday morning, up by 3560 on the previous day.

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

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

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