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Coronavirus: What we know today, May 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.

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

KEY POINTS

PM scraps COAG in major federal-state relations overhaul

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has scrapped the long-running Council of Australian Governments in favour of monthly meetings with the premiers and chief ministers.

National cabinet was established in March to bring political leaders together to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The COAG process has been criticised as too cumbersome and its meetings had become infrequent in recent years.

“COAG is no more,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Friday afternoon.

The national cabinet will continue to meet during the pandemic on a fortnightly basis before moving to monthly meetings in the post-virus period.

Most of the meetings will be held via videoconference while face-to-face meetings will occur twice a year.

Morrison said the agenda would focus on jobs.

“Having the groups operate like a fair-dinkum cabinet has been really important,” he said.

A key reform will be giving the treasurers responsibility over national partnership agreements which cover billions of dollars in funding for services.

Once a year, the national cabinet will meet with the treasurers and Australian Local Government Association to talk about broader issues relevant to the federation.

There will also be a series of ministerial groups on a range of specific issues.

Border bungle has shaken confidence: Premier

Premier Steven Marshall has conceded the bungled communication over the woman who became SA’s latest COVID-19 case has shaken confidence in the team leading the state’s response to the pandemic.

The Premier was asked the question on ABC Radio Adelaide this morning, and accepted the point.

“I think so,” he said. “Look, I think in this instance there has been a lot of analysis, there should be a lot of analysis because we can’t afford to allow something like this to occur again. But I think there has been a very high level of confidence in SA Health. I don’t think there’s any other public health administration anywhere in the world that I’d rather have than the one that we have here.

“But there was an administrative error. It could’ve been very serious if this person wasn’t picked up and that’s why yesterday I spoke to the Police Commissioner and said I would prefer if we didn’t grant any further exemptions for people coming into South Australia for compassionate reasons until he had absolute full confidence, we had absolute full confidence, that we had a robust and airtight system.”

As a result of the case, South Australia and Victoria will advocate for nationally consistent guidelines on the arrival and transfer of people from overseas.

A woman from Britain, who was granted an exemption on compassionate grounds to be with her dying father in Adelaide, arrived from Melbourne on Sunday but was not met by any local health officials.

SA Health staff had missed an email from their Victorian counterparts, detailing the woman’s flight arrangements.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier has apologised for the error and says it’s prompted a review of local processes.

She has also spoken to her Victorian counterpart, Brett Sutton, and together they intend to raise the issue at a national level.

After arriving from the UK, the woman, in her 50s, had spent about a week in quarantine in Victoria and had tested negative for COVID-19 while in isolation.

She wore a mask while travelling to SA and made herself known to airport authorities and was then escorted out by police.

When tested again, she returned the positive result, becoming the state’s 440th virus case and the first for almost three weeks.

The woman was returned to quarantine while almost 20 close contacts were also ordered to self-isolate.

As a result of the bungle, the State Government suspended exemptions on compassionate grounds for people coming to SA. But that suspension was shortlived, with the Premier advising today that a review of the process had convinced him that system was now watertight.

Meanwhile, SA recorded no new cases of COVID-19 today.

Adelaide Uni lectures to stay online only

Students expecting a return to physically attending lectures have been dealt a blow, with Adelaide University falling into line with the University of South Australia after earlier this month flagging a return to ‘face-to-face’ lectures where possible.

In an email to students today, outgoing Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Pascale Quester concedes that “many of you are wondering what the University’s approach to teaching and learning will be for Semester 2 [and] the full details are currently being worked through for each individual course”.

However, she notes, “lectures will continue to be delivered online for the remainder of the year, with some exceptions.”

The university wouldn’t detail the exceptions, saying the detail was still being worked through.

UniSA has already pulled the pin on face-to-face lectures for the remainder of 2020, while Flinders is spruiking an as-yet undetailed “blended” approach, which is also likely to largely favour online learning – meaning the days of regularly attending lecture theatres in SA are unlikely to return until next year at the earliest.

Adelaide’s email continues: “Following advice from the Chief Public Health Officer that it is safe for the University to resume face-to-face teaching, we look forward to welcoming most of our students back to campus in Semester 2 [when] we will combine face-to-face with remote learning in as many courses as possible, taking into consideration public health guidelines.”

“Where students have a preference for continuing to study remotely, we will consider whether that can be accommodated,” Quester said.

Public transport changes

The State Government will make a series of changes to public transport in response to a meeting today of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

The changes include providing more services during the AM and PM peaks on the Gawler rail line, accelerating introduction of new apps to provide better real-time information, floor-marking to encourage social distancing, and better signage.

The Government has also promised to create a taskforce with the City of Adelaide “on measures to encourage more cycling and walking within the CBD where possible and staggering travel in the CBD”.

National snapshot

CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

Australia has recorded 7150 cases. There are 467 active cases, none in the ACT and NT.

The national death toll is 103 – NSW 50, Victoria 19, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 7, SA 4, ACT 3. (Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included the official tolls of both states).

More than six million of an estimated 16 million people with smartphones have registered for the federal government’s COVIDSafe tracing app since April 26.

STATE BY STATE RESTRICTIONS

NSW

Up to 20 people will be allowed to attend weddings, 50 at funerals and places of worship from June 1.

Up to 50 people allowed to dine in restaurants, pubs and cafes, from June 1, up from 10 currently.

Beauty salons can reopen from June 1 with no more than 10 clients at any time.

Outdoor gatherings allowed for a maximum of 10 people.

School students are back full time.

Regional travel within NSW permitted from June 1, when museums, galleries, libraries, zoos and aquariums can reopen.

VICTORIA

Victorians can have up to five visitors in their homes.

Gathering limits relaxed to 10 for outdoor activities including fishing, hiking and golf.

From June 1, the maximum of wedding guests will rise from 10 to 20, with up to 50 at outdoor funerals. A limit of 20 people will be allowed at indoor and outdoor gatherings, swimming pools, beauty and personal care services, libraries and other community facilities.

Also from June 1, 20 people allowed in restaurants, cafes and pubs, increasing to 50 from June 22 and 100 in late July.

Overnight stays in hotels permitted from June.

Children in Prep to Year 2 and Years 11 and 12 are back with the rest to return from June 9.

Year 11 and 12 students will sit exams from November 9 to December 2.

QUEENSLAND

Public school students have resumed full-time classes.

Shopping for non-essential items permitted and up to five members of one household can visit other homes.

Up to 10 people allowed to congregate in parks, pools and playgrounds.

Queenslanders can travel up to 250km from their homes.

Borders remain closed.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Dining and drinking at cafes and restaurants allowed, currently with up to 10 customers indoors and 10 outdoors.

Stage two easing of restrictions brought forward to June 1 to allow up to 50 people to attend funerals, up to 80 in large hospitality venues and up to 20 people in cinemas, theatres, museums, beauty salons, gyms and indoor fitness centres.

Students are back in school full time.

Some border restrictions apply.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

WA to reopen almost all intrastate borders on Friday except for the Kimberley, parts of the East Pilbara and the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku.

Cafes, pubs and restaurants may seat up to 20 patrons.

Two people permitted to visit others at one time in public hospitals from June 2.

Further easing of restrictions expected on June 8.

Students are back in school full time.

TASMANIA

Indoor and outdoor gatherings of 10 people allowed, including real estate, religious and wedding events.

Restaurants and cafes can seat 10 at a time.

Funerals can have 30 mourners outdoors.

Kindergarten to Year Six students and Years 11 and 12 are back in school with the remainder to return on June 9.

Racing expected to resume on June 13.

Border remains closed.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

The NT has relaxed restrictions on parks, golf, fishing and swimming.

Restaurants and bars can reopen with a two-hour limit, with entertainment venues to come.

Restricted access to indigenous communities remains in place until at least June 18.

From June 15, new arrivals won’t go to hotels but do two-weeks mandatory quarantine at home.

Students already back in school full time.

Borders remain closed.

ACT

Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people allowed. Restrictions on sport and recreation eased.

Large clubs will be allowed more than 150 people from Saturday, with a limit of 20 patrons in each room.

Choirs, bands and orchestras will also be allowed to resume practice and national institutions can open their doors to 20 people at a time.

Students in Years 3, 4 and 10 back in classrooms. Years 5, 6, 8 and 9 to return on June 2.

Vigil for Qld man after virus death

Driveways in a small Queensland town have been lit up to honour a man who died with coronavirus, as authorities try to work out how the virus reached the town.

Three testing clinics have been set up in the tight community of Blackwater after former miner Nathan Turner was found dead by his partner on Tuesday.

Anxiety is high as a specialist team works to determine how the 30-year-old got the virus given he had not travelled outside his town since February.

Turner returned a positive coronavirus test after he died. He also had other health issues. A coroner will determine what killed him.

Family, friends and neighbours honoured his life on Thursday night, with people lighting candles in the driveways of their homes.

The vigil was also an act of support for Turner’s fiancee Simone Devon, who is grieving for her partner in isolation as she undergoes repeated tests for the virus.

The two she’s had so far have been negative.

New Zealand down to just one COVID-19 case

New Zealand’s COVID-19 eradication efforts have been so successful, there is now just one active case in the whole country.

Health officials announced the result on Friday as they also confirmed a seventh consecutive day without a positive test for the deadly virus among tens of thousands of tests.

In total, 1504 Kiwis have contracted the virus, with 22 dead.

Climate summit delayed due to pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the United Nations to delay until late 2021 a crucial climate summit that had been scheduled for Britain this year, officials say.

This year’s meeting, known as the COP26 summit, had been billed as the most important climate change summit since the 2015 talks that produced the Paris Agreement.

Hundreds of world leaders had been expected to respond to public pressure for stronger global climate action by delivering pledges to slash greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly.

The summit will be rescheduled to November 1 to 12, 2021, the UN’s climate body decided, dates proposed by the British government. Glasgow, Scotland will remain the host city, and there will first be a warm-up summit in Italy.

British climate official Alok Sharma on Thursday said the delay would give countries more time to rebuild economies with climate change prioritised.

Negotiators from a bloc of less developed countries also urged governments not to use the pandemic to delay stronger climate plans, but instead to boost renewable energy, conservation and other green measures as economies recover.

European Union leaders proposed such a plan on Wednesday to tie a 750 billion euro recovery fund to climate goals.

“The postponement of the COP should not affect the resolve of countries to deliver on these commitments in 2020,” said Sonam Wangdi of Bhutan, a member of the LDC bloc.

This year’s COP26 summit was supposed to serve as a deadline for governments to commit to the more-aggressive emissions-cutting goals needed to deliver the Paris Agreement’s target to cap global temperature increases at 2C and aim for 1.5C above pre-industrial times.

Current pledges put the world on track for roughly 3C of warming this century. Scientists say that level would have severe consequences for sea-level rise, extreme weather events and mass migration as people flee regions where the local climate becomes uninhabitable.

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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