Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.
- Free childcare to end in July
- Health authorities watching and waiting after protests
- No new cases in SA, first new case in ACT in a month
- Caution urged as world virus deaths top 400,000
Parents to pay child care fees in mid-July
Parents will have to pay childcare fees again from July 13 as demand grows for services.
The government will also stop JobKeeper payments to the sector on July 20, despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison promising the wage subsidy would be in place for all workers until the end of September.
Instead, every childcare operator will share in a $708 million transition package, equivalent to a quarter of their revenue from the pre-coronavirus period.
Education Minister Dan Tehan said that would be “a tiny bit less” than the sector was receiving in JobKeeper payments, but could not say how much.
“What we have seen is demand grow and grow over the last few weeks so we needed to change the system,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
“This system was designed for when demand was falling. Now we are seeing demand increasing.”
At the start of crisis, attendance at three in 10 centres more than halved and a further five in 10 saw it drop between 20 and 50 per cent.
Child care attendance was back up to 74 per cent of pre-crisis levels in the week starting May 11.
Activity tests will be eased until October for parents who have lost jobs or hours because of the coronavirus, meaning they can access up to 100 hours of subsidised care.
But they will still have to cover the “gap” portion of fees.
Health chiefs hope protests lead to “minimal cases”
There are fears the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, which were also focused on Indigenous prison rates and deaths in custody, could trigger a spike in coronavirus infections.
Thousands of Australians took to the streets over the weekend after the police killing of African-American man George Floyd.
Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said the next two to three weeks would give an idea of the fallout from the protests.
“We can’t crystal-ball gaze at all. We hope there are minimal cases resulting from the protests but we will wait and see,” he told reporters.
Australia’s chief health officers met on Monday to discuss the next step in easing coronavirus restrictions.
The expert panel did not discuss whether protesters should be told to self-isolate for two weeks after attending the demonstrations.
Coatsworth said Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone’s call for quarantine was precautionary.
He said testing people with symptoms was critical.
The return of crowds to professional sport is under Australian Health Protection Principal Committee consideration.
“There may well be a way to do that in a safe, measured way in the coming months,” Dr Coatsworth said.
There have been 102 coronavirus deaths in Australia, with fewer than 460 cases active across the country.
There were five new cases detected overnight, but people are mostly catching the disease overseas.
No new SA cases, first ACT case in one month
South Australia on Monday marked 13 consecutive days of no virus cases, and a fifth successive day of zero active cases.
There have been four reported deaths in SA from COVID-19. SA Pathology has now undertaken more than 113,000 tests.
Meanwhile, the nation’s capital has recorded its first case of COVID-19 in more than a month, as a man aged in his 40s, who recently returned from overseas, tested positive, ACT Health said in a statement on Sunday.
“He has been in quarantine since his arrival from overseas,” it said.
“A small number of close contacts have been identified and, in accordance with the national guidelines, are in quarantine.”
This brings the ACT’s confirmed cases to 108. The territory has suffered three deaths.
Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman is confident there has been no risk to the broader ACT community.
Caution urged as virus deaths top 400,000
The confirmed global death toll from the COVID-19 virus has reached at least 400,000 fatalities a day after the government of Brazil broke with standard public health protocols by ceasing to publish updates of the number of deaths and infections in the hard-hit country.
Worldwide, at least 6.9 million people have been infected by the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University, whose aggregated tally has become the main worldwide reference for monitoring the disease.
Its running counter says United States leads the world with nearly 110,000 confirmed virus-related deaths.
Europe as a whole has recorded more than 175,000 fatalities since the virus was first detected in China late last year.
Health experts, however, believe that the John Hopkins tally falls short of showing the true tragedy of the pandemic.
Many governments have struggled to produce statistics that can reasonably be considered as true indicators of the pandemic given the scarcity of diagnostic tests especially in the first phase of the crisis.
Authorities in Italy and Spain, with more than 60,000 combined deaths, have acknowledged that their death count is larger than the story the numbers tell.
But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro went as far as to tweet on Saturday that his country’s disease totals are “not representative” of Brazil’s current situation, insinuating that the numbers were actually overestimating the spread of the virus.
Critics of Bolsonaro said the decision was a manoeuvre by the leader to hide the depths of crisis.
Brazil’s last official numbers recorded more than 34,000 virus-related deaths, the third-highest toll in the world behind the US and the UK.
It reported nearly 615,000 infections, putting it second behind the US.
Pope Francis has cautioned people in countries emerging from lockdown to keep following authorities’ rules on social distancing, hygiene and limits on movement.
“Be careful, don’t cry victory, don’t cry victory too soon,” Francis said. “Follow the rules. They are rules that help us to avoid the virus getting ahead” again.
On Sunday, the UK revealed that places of worship can reopen from June 15 – but only for private prayer.
Worries have surfaced over the past couple of weeks that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is easing the restrictions too soon, with new infections potentially still running at 8000 a day. As things stands, non-essential shops, including department stores, are due to reopen on June 15.
Professor John Edmunds, who attends meetings of the British government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said the epidemic “is definitely not all over” and that there is an “awful long way to go”.
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Local updates and resources
State Government central information
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: 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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