Coronavirus counts reaches 3000

 

Australia has now passed 3000 coronavirus cases, as authorities in hardest-hit NSW warn the growing community transmission without a clear source is a "cause for concern".

The country blew through the latest milestone this morning after NSW reported another 186 cases overnight and Victoria another 54.

It comes after a horror 24 hours that saw four people die, three in Victoria and one in WA. There are now around 20 in intensive care in NSW alone, with fears ICUs could be overwhelmed within 10 days.

Total confirmed cases, based on a tally of numbers provided by each state and territory, stand at 3050.

As of Friday morning there were 1405 in NSW, 574 in Victoria, 494 in Queensland, 235 in South Australia, 231 in Western Australia, 47 in Tasmania, 53 in the Australian Capital Territory and 12 in the Northern Territory.

Thirteen people have died - one in Queensland, two in Western Australia, seven in NSW and three in Victoria.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos on Wednesday said two people, one in their 30s and one in their 60s, were in intensive care, noting she was not in the habit of releasing patient's ages but did so in this case "just to stress that COVID-19 is not an elderly person's disease".

"We have had many people overseas in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s ending up in ICU beds because of their diagnosis of COVID-19," she said. She wished the two patients "a speedy recovery but this does make the point that this virus can strike down quite young people as well".

Australia's deputy chief health officer Paul Kelly said the person in their 30s being in intensive care was a "wake up call".

"This is a wake-up call. No-one is immune to this. Many of us will get sick from it. Some of us will get severely sick and end up in hospital. Some will need to be in intensive care. And some of us, as we've seen already, unfortunately, will pass away from this disease.

State and territory leaders have beefed up police enforcement to crack down on returning travellers to ensure they are self-isolating, and of businesses to ensure social distancing directives are being followed.

CORONAVIRUS IN AUSTRALIA

People in their 50s make up the greatest proportion of confirmed cases, followed by those in their 30s, 40s, 20s and 60s.

Far fewer people aged over 70 or under 20 have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Where authorities have been able to determine the source of the infection, three times as many cases came from overseas travel as local transmission. The US and Italy have now overtaken China as the most common source country.

The first case of COVID-19 was detected on January 25 in Victoria.

The patient was a man from Wuhan, Hubei province - where the Chinese virus emerged late last year - who flew to Melbourne from Guangdong on January 19.

Three more cases were detected the same day in NSW.

All three were men who had recently returned from China - two had been in Wuhan and one had direct contact with a confirmed case from the virus epicentre.

Since then, the number of cases has risen exponentially.

NSW quickly became ground zero for the Australian outbreak, and now makes up nearly half of all cases in the country.

Experts fear that if Australia follows the same trend as similar countries where infections have doubled around every six days, there could be as many as 6000 by early April.

 

What will trigger stage three?

Frank Chung

Ms Berejiklian was asked what threshold needs to be met before introducing tougher measures.

"It's not just one number, you have to look a number of criteria," she said, noting that it takes a few days after making decisions to see the results come through in statistics like reduction in public transport numbers.

"From a health perspective, most importantly, what we look at is community activity to make sure people aren't breaking the rules we've set in place," she said.

"We also look at the number of people presenting to hospital, and community-to-community transmission."

She stressed that "it's not one number, if I gave you a number and said this is the trigger point that would be a mistake".

 

Dr Chant said again that "the indicators that concern me most is the increase in community transmission where we don't have a source identified".

"That has been increasing and that is some cause for concern. It should be noted there is a delay in the figures. Numbers we're seeing diagnosed today reflect the behaviours of people seven to 14 days ago. The average incubation period is six to seven days, hence we've got a lag."

Another key factor being considered is ICU capacity.

Dr Chant said NSW had been "hovering between 10 and 20 cases in ICU". The state has capacity for 500 and Ms Berejiklian said work was underway to double or quadruple that.

"At this stage only about 20 people need that high-level care. We want to keep the numbers low but can't keep the numbers low if people keep pretending nothing's happening and move around in the community," she said.

"Every day it's really important for us to allow the community to absorb every decision we take an adjust their behaviour. Every decision we take has massive consequences."

  36m agoMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

NSW to push for lockdown

Frank Chung

On tougher lockdown measures to be discussed by national cabinet today, Ms Berejiklian says NSW and Victoria continue to be "very forward-leading".

"I will continue to put a strong case for NSW as I do at every meeting," she said. "I receive daily advice, I'm supported by experts on a daily basis and I will be going into that meeting putting a case for NSW."

She added, "But I want to assure the community that no matter what decisions are under taken today or tomorrow in the next few days or the next few weeks, there is no need to panic. There is no need to worry about being able to get things that you need."

Ms Berejiklian said she was "pleased with the decisions we have taken at this point in time".

"I think the decisions we have taken in NSW have sometimes been a bit different elsewhere, but I'm very pleased that we've taken those decisions," she said.

"Control is the wrong word because you can't control a virus, but we have been able to contain the number of people that are very sick to a low number and that's what we need to keep doing."

  42m agoMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

1405 cases now in NSW

Frank Chung

Ms Berejiklian stresses that supermarkets and pharmacies will always be open even if tougher lockdown measures are introduced.

"There's no need to panic, no need to hoard, those essential things will always be available," she said.

NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant says the number of cases in the state stands at 1405.

 

Of those, 877 are overseas acquired and 278 are locally acquired through contact with a confirmed case or known cluster.

The number of locally acquired cases where the source is unknown now stands at 145.

"That has increased and as the Premier said, that is the group that most concerns us because it represents community transmission without a known source," Dr Chant said.

There are now 134 receiving care, 62 of those in their home with 19 in intensive care and 53 in hospital wards.

  1h agoMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

'One figure we're most worried about'

Frank Chung

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now.

She says cases continue to rise but "the one figure we're most worried about is the number of people that are getting it within the community".

"The community-to-community transmission is what we are concerned with," she said.

"When you have cases that come from overseas, you can monitor them and you have a source. But when it is community-to-community transmission and you don't have a source, that means the virus is starting to spread without us knowing and that's a concern. That's why it is so important that all of us, all of us, maintain social distancing if we have to be out and about."

  1h agoMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Massage parlour cops $5000 fine

Matt Young

A Sydney massage parlour owner has copped a $5000 fine after the business was caught operating in a NSW police patrol.

Three staff members from the massage parlour, along with a returned traveller from the Lake Macquarie area, make up the first individuals and business in NSW to receive infringements for failing to adhere to coronvirus rules.

NSW Police said in a statement on Thursday officers from Sydney City Police Area Command were conducting a patrol in the Sydney CBD "as part of a proactive police operation to ensure individuals and businesses were complying with all ministerial directions related to COVID-19".

The fines come following amendments to the Public Health Act.

During the patrol, police discovered a massage parlour, located on Sussex Street in Sydney's CBD, was still operating, "contrary to a Public Health Order".

"Officers spoke with the female owner of the business and issued her with a $5000 Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) for failing to comply with a direction under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW)."

Three female staff members were also issued with $1000 PINs.

Read more here.

  1h agoMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Woolies to hire extra 20,000 workers

Frank Chung

Up to 20,000 jobs are up for grabs as Woolworths takes on workers across Australia to keep up supplies of food and drink during of the coronavirus outbreak.

The roles in its supermarkets, e-commerce, supply chain and drinks businesses are expected to be filled in the next month.

"These are uncertain times for many industries and we have an important role to play keeping Australians employed through this crisis," Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said in a statement on Friday.

"These new roles will not only help us better serve the increase in demand we're seeing in stores right now but also allow us to scale up home delivery operations in the months ahead."

The new jobs will be welcome news for the thousands of Australian, mainly in the hospitality and retail sectors, who were laid off last week.

However, Woolworths said its immediate focus would be to redeploy its ALH workers impacted by this week's mandatory hotel closures.

 

Some 3000 people have already been placed into new roles across BWS, Dan Murphy's and Woolworths supermarkets.

Woolworths also plans to offer up to 5000 short-term roles to Qantas employees taking leave without pay, including more than 1500 in its distribution centres.

As well, Woolworths has set up a streamlined application process for "thousands" of short-term roles for displaced workers from Village Entertainment, Michael Hill Jewellers, Cotton On, Accor and Super Retail Group.

"We're working with a number of customer-focused businesses impacted by recent government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19," Mr Banducci said.

But Woolworths is also working through thousands of applications already made through its careers website and walk-up applications made in-store.

The vast majority of new roles will be casual in order to provide maximum workforce flexibility to respond to peaks in demand and cover for existing team members who may be unable to work.

- AAP

 

 

1h agoMarch 27, 2020

HIGHLIGHT

ICU beds could run out in 10 days

Gavin Fernando

Australia could run out of ICU beds to treat coronavirus patients within 10 days, a new study has predicted.

The study published in the Medical Journal of Australia says our nation's mortality rate from COVID-19 could reach that of Italy's unless we take urgent measures to slow the rate of infection.

Anaesthetist Hamish Meares and Macquarie University biostatistician Michael Jones calculated that based on Australia's ICU bed capacity of about 2200, hospitals would be overwhelmed once the number of infections hit 22,000.

"The model's predictions are broadly supported by data from Italy and suggest that Australian hospitals do not currently have the capacity to accommodate possible demand and, as a result, the future mortality rate may be much higher than expected," the authors warned.

Read more here.

  1h agoMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Karl slams airport 'embarrassment'

Frank Chung

Today host Karl Stefanovic has grilled Trade Minister Simon Birmingham about scenes of returning travellers crammed closely together at Sydney Airport yesterday morning.

"The government has asked us, pleaded with us, made laws surrounding our movements, most of us have complied and done the right thing," Stefanovic said.

"Then we have a situation like yesterday at the International Airport in Sydney where all those rules are broken and thrown out the window. What an embarrassment."

Mr Birmingham said it was a "reminder of how tough the job is at every single level to make sure that we are applying these principles of social distancing".

Stefanovic pressed on, describing it as "an international embarrassment, what happened at our borders". Mr Birmingham said it was "inappropriate", but the host cut in.

"It's not inappropriate. It's grossly negligent," he said, adding, "This morning when people arrive from overseas that won't happen?"

Mr Birmingham replied, "I trust that, firstly, Border Force have got the message, the health authorities have got the message, but most importantly that those arriving on those planes back into Australia have got the message as well."

He noted returning travellers are now "overwhelmingly Australians, because we have effectively shut off the borders in terms of new arrivals from anywhere around the world and this is purely about Australians returning home".

"They need to hear the message loud and clear - keep your distance from one another. All Australians do," he said.

  2h agoMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

NSW to announce second stimulus

Frank Chung

The NSW government is about to announce a second round of economic stimulus measures to help businesses as the number of coronavirus cases in the state tops 1000.

The new package is worth about $750 million comes on top of the $2.3 billion announced last week and will include tax relief for pubs, clubs and hotels and some rental relief for small businesses working out of government-owned buildings, the ABC reported on Friday.

"Our expectation is that any relief provided by the NSW government will be used to contribute to help businesses stay in business and people stay in jobs," Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told the ABC.

NSW now has 1219 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seven people have died, adding to the national death toll of 13.

Some 16 patients are in intensive care, with 10 requiring ventilators.

Two more children in NSW on Thursday - girls aged one and two - were confirmed to have COVID-19, taking the number of child cases to four.

A midwife at St George Hospital also tested positive for the virus, with her patients contacted and told to self-isolate.

 

 

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday police would ramp up their public presence and that no cruise ship passengers would be permitted to disembark in NSW until further notice.

She said protocols on disembarkation needed tightening and that she was working with the Australian Border Force on new measures.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship - which disembarked passengers last week without adequate checks - is responsible for 121 COVID-19 cases in NSW.

Meanwhile, new figures show Waverley Council in Sydney's eastern suburbs has recorded the highest number of confirmed coronavirus.

The local government area has had 105 cases of COVID-19, according to data published on the NSW Health website on Thursday.

The Sydney LGA has recorded 69, while Northern Beaches and Woollahra have recorded 68 and 66 cases respectively.

Ms Berejiklian said the government was "looking very closely" at the impact of Monday's shutdowns on pubs, cinemas and churches. If they weren't sufficient, further action would be taken.

NSW Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the full effect of the second stage of shutdowns - in place from Thursday - wouldn't be known for some days.

"It does take us at least seven and possibly 14 days to really get a picture. Remember we also have to take out the fact we have returning travellers come in with disease," she said.

Five people in NSW were handed infringement notices on Thursday for flouting coronavirus public health orders.

Police have the power to hand out fines of $1000 to individuals and $5000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.

Ms Berejiklian, meanwhile, confirmed 292 Australians who had disembarked from the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship in the United States and flown home were in isolation in a Sydney CBD hotel.

They were escorted to the hotel by border authorities upon arrival, while five passengers with respiratory symptoms were taken to hospital.

- Heather McNab, AAP

Stranded Australians to be brought home

Alle McMahon

 

Hundreds of Australians stranded in South America due to the coronavirus pandemic could be flown home within days.

More than 260 Australian nationals and permanent residents are expected to be on a fully booked commercial charter flight scheduled to depart Lima, Peru, within days, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

The flight is subject to final approval to depart by Peruvian authorities.

Another flight is expected to leave Montevideo in Uruguay in coming days with Australians from the Ocean Atlantic cruise ship and any others in the area who want to come home.

"Further facilitated flights are already being planned for Australians in South America, due to particular challenges with transport out of the region," Mr McCormack and Senator Payne said in a joint statement just after midnight on Thursday.

"Australian embassies in Lima and Buenos Aires are working with local authorities in Peru and Uruguay to ensure all arrangements are in place for the flights to Australia, which has required careful and consistent negotiation."

They said the government was supporting the flights after discussions with Australian travel company Chimu Adventures, which will manage the charter operations out of Lima, Montevideo and Cusco.

The government had provided vital assurances to make the flights happen, including indemnity and underwriting unforeseen costs.

"As the Government stated yesterday, we understand many Australians overseas face great difficulty getting home," the statement said.

"We have agreed to consider, on a case-by-case basis, supporting commercial airlines to operate non-scheduled services to less central locations for Australians."

Australians who can travel home by commercial means are urged to do so as soon as possible.

More than 3000 Australians are stuck on board cruise ships across the globe, with more than 30 vessels scattered off South America, Europe, the United States and further afield.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has had more than 18,500 requests for assistance from Australians stranded overseas since March 13.

Australians have now been banned from travelling overseas as authorities try to contain the coronavirus.

- AAP

  11:54 pmMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Health workers to trial vaccine

Andrew Banks

In an effort to protect frontline health workers from coronavirus, researchers are turning to a vaccine unused in Australia since the 1980s.

Murdoch Children's Research Institute will join a global trial using the tuberculosis vaccine to counter the symptoms of coronavirus.

The six-month trial will involve 4000 healthcare workers in Australia, lead researcher Nigel Curtis told reporters on Thursday.

Half of the workers will not be given the vaccine with researchers hoping to get some sign of its effectiveness in three months.

There have been about 2800 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia with 13 deaths as the country braces for the outbreak to gather pace.

Professor Curtis said besides combating tuberculosis, the vaccine boosts the body's immune system, reducing the symptoms of coronavirus.

"It's really the first time the vaccine has been used in this way," Prof Curtis said.

"The vaccine has the ability to 'train' the immune system to respond more strongly to infection." He said healthcare workers were particularly vulnerable to infection, pointing to deaths of frontline workers overseas.

Similar trials are starting in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK but the Australian trial will be one of the largest.

- AAP

  11:13 pmMarch 27, 2020HIGHLIGHT

NSW spells out further lockdown

Andrew Banks

The number of NSW coronavirus cases jumped on Thursday to 1219, a rise of 190 on the previous day.

Some 16 patients are in intensive care, with 10 requiring ventilators.

Two more children in NSW on Thursday - girls aged one and two - were confirmed to have COVID-19, taking the number of child cases to four.

A midwife at St George Hospital also tested positive for the virus, with her patients contacted and told to self-isolate.

 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday police would ramp up their public presence and that no cruise ship passengers would be permitted to disembark in NSW until further notice.

She said protocols on disembarkation needed tightening and that she was working with the Australian Border Force on new measures.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship - which disembarked passengers last week without adequate checks - is responsible for 121 COVID-19 cases in NSW.

Ms Berejiklian said the government was "looking very closely" at the impact of Monday's shutdowns on pubs, cinemas and churches - and if they weren't sufficient, further action would be taken.

The main criterion by which success would be judged was community-to-community COVID-19 transmissions, rather than total case numbers.

"I'm saying to the community that if we're not convinced we've had a sufficient amount of success, NSW will have to take further action and that's a position I've been clear on from day one," Ms Berejiklian said.

But chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the full effect of the second stage of shutdowns - in place from Thursday - wouldn't be known for some days.

This includes museums, libraries, auctions, beauty services and pools, as well as stronger restrictions on wedding and funeral numbers.

"It does take us at least seven and possibly 14 days to really get a picture … remember we also have to take out the fact we have returning travellers come in with disease," Dr Chant said on Thursday.

Officers will have the power to issue fines of $1000 to individuals and $5000 to businesses that breach public health orders.

People in the firing line include returned travellers who contravene the requirement to self-quarantine for 14 days and those diagnosed with COVID-19 who similarly don't follow the rules.

- AAP

 

 

Originally published as Premier: NSW could move to lockdown


Sparky‘s horror discovery of 15 snake skins in roof

Premium Content Sparky‘s horror discovery of 15 snake skins in roof

This electrician‘s worst nightmare came true

Millions in COVID fines, penalties unpaid

Premium Content Millions in COVID fines, penalties unpaid

Nine out of 10 people issued with COVID penalty have not paid

DON'T MISS OUT: Read it all for $1 a week for first 12 weeks

Premium Content DON'T MISS OUT: Read it all for $1 a week for first 12 weeks

Deal gives you access to local, regional and metro News sites