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Coronavirus: What we know today, May 28


Follow this post for rolling updates on the impact of the coronavirus in South Australia, the nation and the world. Today, the SANFL announces its return date and there are red faces in SA Health after confusion over the exemption given to a British woman who this week became the state’s latest COVID-19 case.

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Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.


SA Health in confusion over woman’s exemption

SA’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier has been forced to backtrack after claiming today that Victorian counterparts did not tell SA Health when a woman who tested positive to coronavirus would arrive at Adelaide Airport or on what flight.

Spurrier said it was a small “glitch” in the protocols of receiving information from the other state and the reason the woman came into close contact with more people than necessary.

“We’ve communicated that back to the other state. We’ve got a template that we’ll ask to have completed (and) we’ve now put in tighter controls around that,” Spurrier said on ABC Radio early today.

“It did draw to light that we didn’t receive a critical piece of information from the other state.”

However, later this morning Spurrier revealed that statement had been wrong, and SA Health did receive the details ahead of time.

“Due to an administrative oversight, we can confirm the relevant flight details involving an overseas traveller arriving in South Australia were provided to SA Health prior to their arrival,” she said in a statement.

“What this issue has highlighted is the need to strengthen the processes involving travellers arriving from overseas and travelling between states during their quarantine period.

“We look forward to working with our Commonwealth, State and Territory counterparts to strengthen this process and ensure all cases are reviewed and managed to a consistently high standard.”

Earlier, Spurrier said when the woman in her 50s landed at Adelaide Airport on Sunday, she made herself known to airport authorities and was then escorted out by police.

“From our perspective in SA, we followed our protocol – she had her swab done and was isolated in one of our facilities.

“It is a difficult situation and all of the states are trying as hard as we can.”

Overseas exemptions stopped

The bungle has led to South Australia calling a halt to granting international travel exemptions on compassionate grounds.

Premier Steven Marshall says he wants to get to the bottom of the problem, which resulted in the woman presenting herself to authorities on arrival in Adelaide rather than being met by health officials, before allowing any further international travellers into SA in such circumstances.

“I don’t think we should be granting any further exemptions for overseas travel to South Australia until we’ve ironed out this administrative error,” Marshall said on Thursday.

“We’re going to make sure we have air-tight systems going forward before we grant further exemptions for people coming from overseas.”

But Marshall said he did not intend to “hang SA Health out to dry” and praised the department’s overall handling of the pandemic as well as the previous arrival of international travellers.

SA’s state of emergency to be extended

South Australia’s state of emergency declaration will be extended for at least a further month.

The impending move has prompted a backlash from one of the state’s most prominent business figures, who says the Marshall Government needs to take control of reopening the economy.

Prominent businessman Bruce Carter – who formerly chaired the state’s economic development board and currently oversees the ASC board – told InDaily extending the emergency provisions was a “concern”.

“The state has done a wonderful job of controlling the spread of the virus – as has the country – however there’s a time that the running of the state should revert to those who were elected to do the same,” he said.

“Therefore the extension of the state controller’s oversight for a further 28 days is a concern.”

Read the full story here.

SANFL to return on June 27

The SANFL will begin its 2020 season on Saturday, June 27, with 14 minor rounds and a three-week finals series.

The league announced today that the first two rounds – both double-headers on Saturday and Sunday – would be played at Adelaide Oval, without spectators and “under strict protocols within the State Government’s COVID-19 Step 2 easing of restrictions roadmap”.

“A decision on venues for future home and away matches will be determined closer to the season start date,” the league said.

The finals series between a top four would begin on October 3-4, with the grand final to be held on the weekend of October 17-18.

The competition has been reduced to eight teams this year, with Port Adelaide and the Crows banned from competing by the AFL’s COVID-19 rules.

Temporary expansion allowed for licensed venues

The State Government will allow wineries, pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants to expand their licensed areas, to accommodate more customers without breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said venues would be allowed to apply for a short-term licence to adjust their trading area at no cost, to make the most of restrictions which, from Monday, will allow up to 80 customers in a venue, but only up to 20 in each discrete outdoor or indoor area.

“This will be available to licensed venues at no cost and, if approved, could allow the consumption of a liquor, seated at a table, in a part of the premises that previously wasn’t covered by the licence – whether that’s a separate room, an expanded existing outdoor area or a new outdoor area,” Chapman said.

“The short term licence application will not involve usual application processes to amend a licenced area.

“Approvals will be in place for six months after which licensees wishing to do so could apply for a permanent change through the normal process.”

Government restrictions are continuing to cause concern in particular sectors, with gyms and dance studios concerned that their indoor classes will be limited to 10 people.

They had been anticipating more after the Premier announced on Monday that venues would be able to host 80 people in total with up to 20 in discrete rooms.

Shadow Treasurer Stephen Mullighan accused the Government of “flip-flopping”.

“First cafes and restaurants were told they could open, then they couldn’t,” he said.

“Then pubs were told they couldn’t open, then they suddenly could.

“Now dance studios and gyms have been told they could offer classes of up to 20 people, only to be later told it’s only 10.”

View the latest restrictions roadmap here.

Economic downturn might not be so severe

The economic downturn from coronavirus may not be as severe as predicted, Reserve Bank boss Dr Philip Lowe says.

Lowe has told a Senate inquiry Australia’s recovery largely depends on when the public regains confidence about health and finances in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the national health outcomes better than earlier feared, it’s entirely possible the economic downturn will not be severe as earlier thought,” he told the hearing on Thursday.

“Even as the recovery gets under way, as it will, there will still be a shadow cast over our economy by the pandemic.

“And as a country, we’ll need to turn our minds as how to best move out of that shadow.”

Lowe said it would help to have a reform agenda which makes it easier for businesses to expand, invest, innovate and hire people.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech to the National Press Club this week, which touched on tax and industrial relation reform, was a “helpful starting point”.

Depending on how the next few months go, Lowe said the JobKeeper program should continue and perhaps be tapered out or kept in place for specific industries.

Lowe also expects Australia’s cash rate to remain at its historic low of 0.25 per cent for some years.

The Reserve Bank won’t look to change the rate until progress is made towards full employment and inflation is within its two to three per cent target band.

Lowe says more job losses are expected but it likely won’t be as bad as the figures from April, when nearly 600,000 jobs were lost.

He described that result as “shocking”, but not as bad as predicted.

Young coronavirus death worries officials

Authorities are pleading with the residents of a small Queensland town to get tested for coronavirus after the death of a young man who hadn’t been anywhere in months.

Three testing clinics have opened in the coal mining town of Blackwater, and sewage from its 5000 residents will be screened to determine infection levels in the community.

Authorities don’t know how 30-year-old former miner Nathan Turner became infected. The last time he left the town was in February.

In early May he began experiencing respiratory symptoms.

On Tuesday he was found dead in his Blackwater home when his partner returned from work.

She is now in quarantine having returned one negative test, but faces more because the virus is sometimes not detected in the early stages of illness.

A crack team of contract tracers has been sent to Blackwater to find everyone who had direct contact with Mr Turner.

So far they’ve tracked down 20 people, with 18 testing negative. The other two, who aren’t from Blackwater but visited Mr Turner there, will be tested on Thursday.

By the end of the day more than 120 locals will have been tested.

But Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says that figure was disappointingly low and has implored any locals with symptoms to come forward.

The central Queensland man is the youngest person to die in Australia and takes the national death tally from the virus up to 103.

There are 7139 people in Australian who have caught the virus, less than 500 of whom are still sick.

EU unveils virus recovery plan

The European Commission has unveiled a plan to borrow on the market and then disburse to EU countries 750 billion euros ($A1.24 trillion) in grants and loans to help them recover from their coronavirus slump.

The news gave an immediate boost to the euro.

Much of the money is to go to Italy and Spain, the worst affected by the pandemic, which together would receive 313 billion euros in grants and loans.

The aim is also to protect the European Union’s single market of 450 million people from being splintered by divergent economic growth and wealth levels as the 27-nation bloc emerges from its deepest-ever recession, which is expected this year.

Of the 750 billion euros, two-thirds would be in grants financed by joint borrowing and one-third in loans.

The grants, although controversial, are needed because Italy, Spain, Greece, France and Portugal already have high debt and are heavily reliant on tourism that was brought to a halt by the pandemic.

They will find it more difficult than more frugal northern nations to restart their economies through borrowing.


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


Australian Government travel advice:

Check your symptoms

Free, government-funded, health advice:

– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters

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