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Coronavirus: What we know today, May 31


Follow this post for rolling updates on the impact of the coronavirus in South Australia, the nation and the world.

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SA and NSW launch tourism campaigns

South Australians are being urged to swap Lords for the Adelaide Oval, the Mississippi for the Murray, and the Serengeti for Seal Bay, in a $1.5 million campaign to boost local tourism businesses hit by COVID-19 restrictions.

Premier Steven Marshall launched the SA Tourism Commission’s ‘Welcome Back’ tourism campaign on Sunday, claiming that since intrastate restrictions were eased on May 8, regions had reported a surge of interest with places in the Riverland, Yorke Peninsula, Barossa and Flinders Ranges already booked out for the June long weekend.

“New data from Airbnb has shown a surge in domestic bookings, particularly in regional areas, with South Australia reporting a significant increase in same-state travel, with bookings up 77 per cent compared with the same week last year,” he said.

Queensland has brought forward an easing of restrictions of travel within the state by almost two weeks.

Victoria will also be loosening restrictions tomorrow, permitting stays in holiday homes, caravan parks and camping grounds.

New South Wales is also reopening camping grounds and caravan parks from tomorrow, and going one step further in today launching the ‘Now it’s Time to Love New South Wales’ campaign to encourage not only intrastate travel, but lure visitors from Victoria and the ACT, which have not closed their borders.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned residents to use their new freedoms wisely, as the state announces it recorded three new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to Saturday night, all of them travellers in hotel quarantine.

The NSW government will meanwhile spend $3 billion on a fund for priority infrastructure as part of the COVID-19 recovery effort, including $810 million that would have been spent on now-scrapped plans to refurbish ANZ Stadium.

SA breaks 100,000 test barrier

South Australia on Sunday broke through the 100,000 test barrier, according to the latest figures from SA Health. 

The state recorded no new cases, with SA Pathology now having undertaken 100,840 tests in total. There have been a total of 440 cases reported in South Australia, with four deaths and one active case.

The figures come ahead of an easing of restrictions on Monday rules allow 80 people to gather at a venue, with any separate room or area to have a maximum of 20 people subject to the to the 1 person per 4 square metre rule).

The state government has released a set of answers to frequently asked questions.

The rules will allow for the following activities:

Victoria and WA report new cases

Victoria has recorded six new cases today (a net total of four after two others were revised). That brings the total in Australia to 7192 so far.

The new cases come after new clusters were identified on Saturday, including two returned travellers in hotel quarantine, and three are linked to a family outbreak in Keilor Downs that has resulted in a second grade class of students going into quarantine.

The WA Department of Health has reported three new active cases of COVID-19 overnight, bringing the state’s total to 589.

Of the new cases one is a three-year-old child from Western Australia, one is a female in her 60s also from Western Australia and one is a male in his 30s from interstate.

All cases are recently returned overseas travellers and are currently in hotel quarantine. The child is a known contact of a confirmed case.

One person, a known case from the Al Kuwait who had been in hotel quarantine, was admitted to a Royal Perth hospital ward overnight.

Cultural institutions ready for recovery

South Australia’s major cultural institutions will soon reopen as restrictions ease from tomorrow, with museums and libraries preparing to play their own role in the recovery effort.

The State Library announced it will be reopening on June 9, with physical distancing, strict building capacity limits and increased hygiene practices in place.

To begin, the Library will open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday, and remain closed on Sunday and public holidays.

The Art Gallery of South Australia will reopen its doors on June 5.

The South Australian Museum has not yet announced a reopening date, although it is running a virtual program for National Reconciliation Week until 3 June, including an online lecture from Professor John Carty on Indigenous art.

Australian Museums and Galleries Association national director Alex Marsden said cultural institutions have an important role to play in the recovery.

“It’s not just building a bridge or a gas pipeline, it’s actually understanding people, giving them spaces to talk about themselves and their experiences,” she said.

“A new national identity that’s forged around this experience as well as others.”

She said the sector has been hard hit by restrictions, with many shuttered since March, and called for more government support for gallery and museum workers ineligble for support schemes.

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) CEO Sue McKerracher said libraries will provide support for people affected by the massive job layoffs across the economy.

“We have people coming through to do short courses and informal training, particularly around technology, which helps them get back into the workforce if they’ve been away for a period of unemployment,” she said.

Many institutions embraced innovative means to maintain their services, with libraries offering e-books and ancestry services remotely, and museums holding virtual tours.

From June 1 NSW, Victoria, and the ACT will join SA in allowing museums and galleries to reopen.

Museums and galleries will reopen from June 12 in Queensland, June 15 in Tasmania.

They were allowed to reopen in the NT on May 21, and a date has not yet been announced for WA.


UN adopts new voting system

The UN General Assembly in New York has adopted a new socially distanced voting procedure for the upcoming election of new non-permanent members to the Security Council.

Instead of meeting in the horseshoe-shaped assembly chamber at the UN headquarters, ambassadors from the 193 UN member countries will cast secret ballots during spaced-out time slots.

The Security Council election had been scheduled for June 17 but it’s unclear whether that will remain the date.

It has five permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – with five of the 10 additional non-permanent members to be elected this year.

The UN headquarters staff have been ordered to work from home until June 30.

The new voting system comes as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on US President Donald Trump to rethink his decision to end funding to the World Health Organisation, urging that “now is the time for enhanced co-operation and common solutions.”

Close to 6 million coronavirus infections have been reported worldwide, with more than 365,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

India has reported a record daily jump of 7964 new COVID-19 infections, with a recent surge in cases as lockdown restrictions start to be relaxed.

The jump may see Prime Minister Narendra Modi extend curbs beyond their scheduled expiry today, as he addresses the country in a special radio broadcast today.

India has recorded 173,763 COVID-19 cases and 4971 deaths, making it the ninth most-affected country globally.

In the town of Meerut a medical worker was attacked by a group of monkeys, who snatched and ran away with the coronavirus blood samples he was testing.

The blood samples have since been recovered and authorities say they were not damaged.

After a near three-month shutdown, all competitive sport in Britain can resume from June 1 behind closed doors provided strict conditions are met, the government said on Saturday. The english Premier League is targeting a restart of June 17.

The Formula One season is also set to resume, after Austria’s health ministry gave the green light for two races on July 5 and 12 at the village of Spielberg. Crowds will not be permitted.


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

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

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