Refresh this page for updates – scroll down for links to official health information.
- No new SA cases for 15 days
- Victoria monitoring new cases
- PM calls for date to open state borders
- OECD warns of economic impact
- US cases pass 2 million
- Claims that earlier lockdown could have halved UK death rate
No new SA cases for 15 days
South Australia on Wednesday marked 15 consecutive days of no virus cases, and a seventh 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.
Victoria watching new cases
Victoria is closely monitoring local transmission of coronavirus as the state’s return to a new normality prompted the shutdown of a disability service.
A client of Scope Disability Services in Chelsea was among four new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Victoria on Wednesday.
The person attended the facility while infectious. The site in Melbourne’s southeast closed from Wednesday until Thursday as it undergoes deep cleaning.
Authorities are trying to establish how the person might have been infected and which of the centre’s staff and clients he might have been in contact with.
Victoria’s four new cases reported on Wednesday brought the state’s tally to 1691, with just 54 remaining active.
One of the new cases was linked to a 14 people cluster at Rydges Hotel in Melbourne’s CBD, where returned travellers have been quarantined.
Earlier on Monday, aged care centre Hawthorn Village in Bright was also locked down for cleaning while 25 residents were quarantined.
A resident was confirmed as positive on Monday and remains isolated in hospital, where they were transferred for an unrelated condition.
It will take at least a week to determine whether last Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne has contributed to any local transmission of the virus.
PM wants deadline to open state borders
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ramped up calls for state leaders to set a border opening timetable with coronavirus infections at low levels.
The federal government is applying fresh pressure on states to restart interstate travel amid calls for more help to be directed to aviation.
“We need to get planes flying around Australia,” Morrison told parliament.
“If you want to see planes flying around Australia, we need to open up these domestic borders.”
Deloitte administrators overseeing bids for Virgin Australia are concerned potential buyers may not proceed without guarantees of continued support.
But Morrison is adamant certainty around domestic travel increasing will be more important.
“If we’re concerned about Virgin employees, it is very important that we open up the domestic borders in this country,” he said.
He wants premiers to nominate a July date, in line with national cabinet’s target for the third stage of eased restrictions.
There were seven new cases reported across Australia on Wednesday, four in Victoria and three in NSW.
The average national daily increase has been at 0.06 over the past three days.
Just 20 people remain in hospital with the disease, three of whom are in intensive care.
While 102 people have died in Australia from coronavirus, more than 6740 of the 7276 diagnosed have recovered.
Pandemic’s chronic economic hit
The economic consequences of coronavirus will be severe and long-lasting whether or not there’s a second outbreak, with Australia’s GDP to fall by five per cent this year in the absence of another wave of cases.
In the “double hit” scenario, Australia’s GDP could fall by 6.3 per cent this year, the OECD says in a new report.
The economic organisation says the government should consider support measures that may be needed once existing help ends in September, such as strengthening the social safety net and investing in energy efficiency and social housing.
Australia’s economic output could fall by 6.3 per cent this year if there’s another wave of coronavirus cases, a key global economic body warns.
But even without a second wave, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says Australia’s gross domestic product will still fall by five per cent this year, with severe and long-lasting consequences.
The federal government should consider what support might be needed once the existing measures ends in September, such as strengthening the social safety net and investing in energy efficiency and social housing, the OECD said.
Education, training and improving job search programs should be focused on getting unemployment down, it added.
Expanded loan guarantees and accelerated insolvency processes could result in a more dynamic recovery, the organisation said in its latest economic outlook.
States and territories have begun easing restrictions with no resulting surge in cases, so far.
But there’s another week to go before it’s known if the virus spread at mass anti-racism protests across the country last weekend.
The government has said it’s unlikely broad restrictions will be applied if there’s another outbreak of cases, and its strategy will focus on local containment areas.
The OECD said a second outbreak could be smaller in Australia than elsewhere, due to the nation’s geography and continued restrictions on international travel.
The report acknowledged the virus had hit Australia’s economy at a time when investment was already weak and the impact of severe drought and devastating bushfires were being felt.
This led to a 0.3 per cent drop in growth in the March quarter, prompting the government to warn Australian is now in a recession given another fall is expected in the June quarter data, due later this year.
An economic recovery could be faster if consumer sentiment rapidly rebounded, the OECD said.
But a key risk to its outlook is high levels of household debt, as well as a downturn in the housing market.
US passes 2 million cases
Total US coronavirus cases have surpassed 2 million, according to a Reuters tally, as health officials urge anyone who took part in massive protests for racial justice to get tested.
Across the country new infections are rising slightly after five weeks of declines, according to a Reuters analysis.
Part of the increase is due to more testing, which hit a record high on June 5 of 545,690 tests in a single day but has since fallen, according to the COVID-Tracking Project.
Recent increases in cases are likely a result of more people moving about and resuming some business and pleasure activities as all 50 states gradually reopen.
Health officials believe the first US coronavirus cases appeared in January and the country recorded 1 million cases by April 28.
So far in June, there have been an average of 21,000 new cases a day compared with an average of 30,000 a day in April and 23,000 a day in May, according to a Reuters tally.
Total US coronavirus-related deaths have surpassed 112,000, also the most in the world.
On May 12, the World Health Organisation advised governments that before reopening, the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus should remain at 5.0 per cent or lower for at least 14 days.
US rates of positive test results have fluctuated between 4.0 per cent and 7.0 per cent and have not met those guidelines although many individual states have.
Some states were still reporting positive rates above the WHO threshold last week, with Maryland at 8.0 per cent, Utah at 9.0 per cent, Nebraska at 9.0 per cent, Virginia at 9.0 per cent, Massachusetts at 11 per cent and Arizona at 12 per cent.
At the peak of the outbreak in April, 25 per cent to 50 per cent of tests came back positive.
Earlier lockdown would have lowered UK death rate
Britain’s death toll from COVID-19 could have been halved if lockdown had been introduced a week earlier, a former member of the UK government’s scientific advisory group says.
The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 245 to 41,128 as of June 9, according to government data released on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the lockdown on March 23.
Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson told MPs that Britain had taken the right measures but too late.
“The epidemic was doubling every three to four days before lockdown interventions were introduced. So had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have then reduced the final death toll by at least a half,” Ferguson said.
“So whilst I think the measures… were warranted… certainly had we introduced them earlier, we would have seen many fewer deaths.”
Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College in London, produced a model which influenced Britain’s response to the pandemic but later stood down from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) after he was accused of breaking lockdown rules.
His comments echo those of another scientific adviser, John Edmunds, who said at the weekend that Britain should have gone into lockdown earlier.
Johnson said it was too early to say what regrets he had or lessons he could learn over the handling of the pandemic.
“We made the decisions at the time on the guidance of SAGE, including Professor Ferguson, that we thought were right for this country,” he told reporters.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the one issue he would choose to look at was how to speed up testing earlier.
“Many of the problems that we had came because we were unable to work out exactly where we were,” he said.
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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