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Coronavirus: What we know today, May 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

SA restrictions easing

Coronavirus restrictions will be eased earlier than originally planned in South Australia.

Premier Steven Marshall says from Friday, indoor dining at cafes and restaurants will be allowed for up to 20 people – 10 inside and 10 oustide – and alcohol can also be served.

Then SA will move to stage two of its planned easing program three days earlier than scheduled on June 5, which will increase the number of people who can be served and also allow cinemas and theatres to reopen.

Also from June 5, all pubs across the state will be allowed to open, with the Government to detail a “principles-based approach” to this in “coming days”.

However, the hotel industry remains bitterly disappointed.

SA Health’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier says “it made sense” to bring the date forward in time for the June long weekend, something South Australians and industry workers wanted.

She says the second phase would have a case-by-case approach, where different sectors will adopt individual protocols.

“An increased gathering size (and) reducing the risk of transmission … are the big parts of the principles,” Spurrier said.

“We want to provide that to all of the different sectors and there will be specific details for each individual sector.

“We have the flexibility to make changes … not only because we have no cases but because South Australians continue to get tested.”

You can watch the Premier’s announcement below.

SA records no new cases

South Australia had no COVID-19 infections reported today, with the state’s total remaining at 439, with four deaths and 435 recovered cases.

So far, more than 83,000 people have been tested.

SA Health reported for the sixth day running that there were no active cases of COVID-19.

One person remains in hospital recovering from the effects of the virus.

Woman arrested after allegedly spitting on Adelaide nurse

A woman has been arrested after allegedly spitting on a nurse in Adelaide.

The nurse was dressed in blue hospital scrubs as she walked along Hindley Street in the city on Tuesday morning when she had a drink spat over her.

She was not hurt during the incident but a 42-year-old woman was later arrested and charged with assaulting a prescribed emergency worker.

Retail sales plummet in April

Retail spending fell a record 17.9 per cent in April as strict social and travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus hit demand.

Seasonally adjusted retail spending fell $5.38 billion, to $24.73 billion, according to preliminary data for the month released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

The slide was far worse than analysts’ consensus of a 5.0 per cent decline and followed a record jump of 8.5 per cent in March.

The decline was driven by the food retailing industry, which fell 17.1 per cent.

Monthly turnover in supermarket and grocery stores scanner for non-perishable and perishable Goods dropped by 23.7 per cent and 15.3 per cent respectively, while there were further strong falls in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services.

Crows, Port given training clearance

South Australian authorities have granted Adelaide and Port Adelaide special permission to resume full-contact training from Monday, in a huge boost for both AFL clubs.

It means the Crows and Power will be able to stay in their home state to prepare for next month’s AFL season restart, instead of relocating to Queensland this weekend.

The teams are still set to move to their planned Gold Coast hubs for matches, with the season set to recommence on June 11.

However, they could now theoretically play a Showdown in Adelaide in round two and only relocate in mid-June if it is still necessary at that stage.

While Premier Steven Marshall is pushing the AFL for that option, the Labor Opposition is questioning why the Government’s focus isn’t on local businesses.

“South Australians love their footy, but we all recognise right now we need to focus on getting businesses back open and people back to work – the Premier needs to focus on what’s best for us, not what’s best for the AFL,” said Labor Treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan.

“Over the past few weeks, Steven Marshall has spent too much time focussing on special exemptions for AFL footballers, and not enough time delivering economic stimulus which could create much-needed jobs.”

The AFL is yet to announce the first block of fixtures for the competition resumption, giving it flexibility in the schedule.

SA’s decision brings it into line with Western Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland, with all AFL states now allowing full-contact training from May 25.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens – in his role as emergency management state coordinator – confirmed the special exemptions allowed Adelaide and Port Adelaide to resume “full squad training sessions, including tackling, contact and match simulation in South Australia”.

However, Crows and Power players will now be subject to strict protocols that limit their daily movements and interaction with the community.

Caution urged as coronavirus toll hits 100

Australians have been cautioned to remain vigilant as the national death toll from the coronavirus hits 100.

The death of a 93-year-old female resident at Sydney’s Newmarch House nursing home on Tuesday was the 49th death in NSW and took the national toll into triple digits.

It was also the 17th at the Anglicare-run facility in western Sydney, triggering a warning from senior government ministers.

“This tragic toll reminds us that even as Australian states and territories move towards easing of restrictions, the threat of this virus remains,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“The government has outlined a clear pathway to recovery, but Australians everywhere should stay alert, follow physical distancing guidelines and look out for each other.”

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said he was deeply saddened by the latest death at Newmarch House, which underlined the danger COVID-19 posed to vulnerable and senior Australians.

“We are not out of the woods. Protecting our most vulnerable is everybody’s responsibility.”

Four nursing homes in Melbourne have gone into lockdown after a resident from each were tested for the virus.

Three have returned positive results while results for a fourth are pending.

Last week, it was announced the aged care royal commission would examine the impact of COVID-19 on residential and home aged care.

Australia welcomes global COVID-19 inquiry

A World Health Assembly resolution paving the way for a global investigation into COVID-19 has a clear mandate to find the source of the deadly infection, Australia says.

The resolution, backed by more than 130 World Health Organisation member states, was adopted at the annual meeting in Geneva overnight on Tuesday.

It commits to an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation into COVID-19, at the earliest appropriate moment”, and to review the lessons learned from the international health response co-ordinated by the WHO.

“There is also a clear mandate to identify the source of the COVID-19 virus and how it was transmitted to humans, which will be necessary to prevent and reduce the risks of the emergence of new diseases that pass from animals to humans,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Wednesday.

The coronavirus source issue pushed by the Morrison government has caused a serious rift in the relationship between Australia and China.

The first identified major outbreak was in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province and is believed to have been caused by a bat virus jumping to humans.

But China is sensitive to the issue that its animal wet markets were the global source of the disease.

On Tuesday, China rejected claimed by senior Australian government MPs that the WHO inquiry would vindicate the government’s stance on the issue.

“The draft resolution on COVID-19 to be adopted by the World Health Assembly is totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review,” a spokesman told AAP on Tuesday.

“To claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke.”

Claims US states fudging virus test data

Public health officials in some US states are accused of bungling coronavirus infection statistics or even using sleight of hand to make things look better than they are.

The risk is that politicians, business owners and ordinary Americans who are making decisions about lockdowns, reopenings and other day-to-day matters could be left with the impression the virus is under more control than it is.

In Virginia, Texas and Vermont officials said they have been combining the results of viral tests, which show an active infection, with antibody tests, which show a past infection.

Public health experts say that can make for impressive-looking testing totals but does not give a true picture of how the virus is spreading.

In Florida, the data scientist who developed the state’s coronavirus dashboard, Rebekah Jones, said this week she was fired for refusing to manipulate data “to drum up support for the plan to reopen”.

In Georgia, one of the earliest states to ease up on lockdowns, the Department of Public Health published a graph showing new Covid-19 cases declining over time in the most severely affected counties.

The daily entries, however, were not arranged in chronological order but in descending order.

For example, the May 7 totals came right before April 26, which was followed by May 3. A quick look at the graph made it appear as if the decline was smoother than it really was.

The graph was taken down within a day.

Georgia state Democrat Jasmine Clark, who has a doctorate in microbiology, said the graph was a “prime example of malfeasance”.

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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