THURSDAY, APRIL 9
Police will be out in force across the country this Easter weekend as authorities repeat warnings that relaxing social distancing and travelling over the weekend could lead to dire consequences.
Anyone caught on a “holiday jaunt” and other travel deemed nonessential face fines of around $1000.
The nationwide clampdown on nonessential travel comes as Australia passed 6,000 total coronavirus cases and authorities said the economic shutdown would continue for at least a few more weeks until there is enough data on the community transmission of coronavirus to map a “way out”.
As the country enters its fourth week of heavy physical-distancing measures — resulting in a gradual flattening of the curve — health experts have begun contemplating the “next phase” of Australia’s response, beyond the restrictions.
However, according to the experts — including a group of epidemiologists advising the Federal Government — more data on the rate of community transmission is needed before further decisions can be made.
University of Melbourne health epidemiologist Kathryn Snow told the ABC that data would help answer the pragmatic questions such as what could we expect in the next few months.
“[It will tell us] what restrictions can we relax, as well as what measures are needed in specific locations,” Professor Snow said.
“What we will be getting with this new modelling is much more targeted forecasts. It will give us much more specific insight into what’s happening in Australia.”
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said on Tuesday the current data on infection rates was being skewed by infected international travellers, but in the “next week or 10 days” they would have a “much better picture”.
There are now more than 6000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia with 2734 in New South Wales, 1212 in Victoria, 943 in Queensland, 420 in South Australia, 481 in Western Australia, 107 in Tasmania, 99 in the Australian Capital Territory and 28 in the Northern Territory .
In other COVID 19 news:
- A cargo plane carrying six crew members from Wuhan arrived in Sydney late on Wednesday night as the Chinese city at the heart of the global pandemic reopened. The Boeing 747 operated by Suparna Airlines touched down as Sydney International Airport about 9.30pm carrying desperately needed face masks and medical supplies. The crew were pictured unloading boxes and checking in at the airport’s 4-star Rydges Hotel, where they are expected to be quarantined for 14 days.
- NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced the NSW government will be providing free pre-school for the next six months.
- New South Wales detectives have started interviewing key witnesses on board the Ruby Princess cruise ship, the vessel at the centre of a COVID-19 criminal enquiry. The investigation is looking into whether the ship’s operator downplayed the number of potential coronavirus cases on the ship before it docked at Circular Quay last month. To date, more than 600 cases of coronavirus have been linked to the ship, which is currently docked at Port Kembla, south of Sydney.
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care, though in an improved condition, as the UK experienced its deadliest day from the coronavirus pandemic.
- The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 938 in 24 hours to reach 7,097 on Wednesday (local time).But the British Government’s Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, Angela McLean, said despite the grim death figures — similar to the peaks experienced in Italy and Spain, the countries with the deadliest outbreaks — the number of new cases was “not accelerating out of control”.
- A bridge on a normally busy provincial road in northern Italy midway between Genoa and Florence has collapsed, but, with virtually no traffic due to the coronavirus lockdown, only two truck drivers suffered minor injuries.
- In a heartfelt plea for unity, the World Health Organisation’s chief sought Wednesday to rise above sharp criticism and threats of funding cuts from US President Donald Trump over the agency’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The vocal defence from the WHO Director-General came a day after Trump blasted the UN agency for being “China-centric” and alleging that it had “criticised” his ban of travel from China as the COVID-19 outbreak was spreading from the city of Wuhan.
- WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian and the WHO’s first African leader, projected humility minimised his personal role decried invective and even racist slurs.
- A 67-year-old Tasmanian man has been rescued by police after hitting rocks while trying to sail from the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown to Tasmania.
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