The day so far
Let’s take a moment to recap the day’s events.
Australia recorded just 18 new cases in the past 24 hours, remaining within its target of 20 new cases.
Education minister Dan Tehan was forced to withdraw remarkable comments he made this morning, accusing the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews of a failure of leadership on his approach to the state’s schools. Tehan later said he had “overstepped”.
South Australia has expressed hope of becoming Covid-19 free. It has just seven active cases and has had no new cases for the past 11 days.
In New South Wales, another death has been recorded at the Newmarch House aged care home, the site of an outbreak. The 76-year-old woman who died became the 14th resident to die at the facility after testing positive to Covid-19. Four new cases were recorded in NSW, two of which were connected to Newmarch House.
In Victoria, a teacher tested positive for Covid-19 at the Meadowglen Primary School in Epping. The school is to be closed for three days for deep cleaning. Victoria has otherwise recorded 13 new cases.
An 83-year-old woman is the latest confirmed death in WA contracted Covid-19 from close contact. She was admitted to hospital in mid-April and died on 30 April. The state otherwise recorded no new cases overnight, the fourth consecutive day of zero cases. They now have only 19 active cases across the state.
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said universities were likely to begin resuming some face-to-face this week.
The New Zealand Warriors are flying to Australia today to begin preparations for a resumption of the NRL later this month. One of their players reportedly had to stay behind due to illness. The team were given a special exemption from travel restrictions.
The ACCC says it was preparing to take Flight Centre to court over its policy of charging a cancellation fee of $300 to every per person that requests a refund for Covid-19 related cancellations. The legal action was avoided when Flight Centre said on Saturday it would waive the fee.
States including Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory enjoyed their first weekend with loosened physical distancing restrictions.
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South Australia has now registered 11 consecutive days of zero new coronavirus cases. That’s a pretty remarkable run.
As I mentioned, Nicola Spurrier is hopeful the state could soon be free of Covid-19, with only seven active cases.
South Australia has just seven active Covid-19 cases
The South Australia chief medical officer Nicola Spurrier is speaking now. She says the state now only has seven active cases, with 427 people now recovered from Covid-19. The state has a 98% recovery rate, she says.
If we don’t have any more cases, soon we will be able to say that we have no one with Cvovid-19 in the state, which will certainly be something to celebrate.
Spurrier is also announcing that playgrounds and skate parks will be re-opened.
Looking at the risks involved, and also because we now have our schools back, I thought it was time that we should lift some of the restrictions on playgrounds.
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Murphy is asked about a report that one member of the New Zealand NRL team, the Warriors, had to stay behind for a Covid-19 test as the rest of the team travelled to Australia. He says he would be surprised if the test was positive, given New Zealand’s current low rates of Covid-19.
He’s asked whether more members of the team should be tested. Murphy says it is pointless testing people who are well.
There’s not a lot of value in testing well people, because you could be incubating the virus, we don’t know what that means.
Murphy warns anyone with any sign of illness, no matter how small, to stay away from aged care facilities. Even so much as a sniffle should be enough to prevent aged care visits, he says.
You have to be perfectly well to walk into the door of an aged care facility, that’s my message.
Universities likely to start ‘cautiously’ recommencing face-to-face
Murphy says a “cautious” restart of some university face-to-face activities will be discussed in national cabinet this week. He says it is likely that some face-to-face activities will resume.
I think universities are clearly in the mix of things that we’re talking about with national cabinet this week. It is likely that they will start to re-commence some activities, without pre-empting the decision of national cabinet.
Children are not high transmitters: Murphy
The advice has not changed on schools and school-aged children, Murphy says.
Children are not high transmitters, he says. There is little risk to children.
We think that children are not high transmitters of this virus in the school environment. We have always said there is a potential risk for adults, in the staff room, adult interactions at the school, pick ups and drop off.
Murphy is asked how that squares with the Victorian government’s position.
He says the Victorian decision is based on the state’s desire to stop movement, rather than any concern about the safety of children.
Murphy is asked what permanent personal hygiene changes we will need to make as a result of Covid-19. He’s asked, for example, whether cricketers will have to stop using saliva to shine cricket balls.
Murphy says many aspects of our society will have to change permanently, including our hygiene practices.
We as a first world very wealthy country have become a bit relaxed about hygiene and I think it’s time we focussed on those things.
For the record, Murphy doesn’t think using saliva on cricket balls is a good idea.
Murphy says the monitoring of Australians shows there has be an increase in movement in recent days since restrictions were relaxed in some state.
This virus is still in our community, it’s still with us, we are… in a much better position than just about any other country in the world, but we have to be careful as we chart the next couple of months.
Australia records 18 new cases in last 24 hours
The chief medical officer Brendan Murphy is speaking now. He says there are currently 6,801 cases, increase of 18 cases in last 24 hours.
He says the number of new cases is still below the target of 20, and says the government is continuing to look at what measures can be relaxed. But he warns against complacency.
There are still new cases and there are still small outbreaks detected in Victoria and New South Wales, there is still evidence of some low level community transmission. That’s why we’ve been saying for some time we cannot be complacent.
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While we wait for Brendan Murphy, there was some news this morning that large volumes of PPE had been seized at the border by the Australian government. The Daily Telegraph reported this morning that Australian Border Force officers have stopped 1,500 shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) using new export controls designed to prevent profiteering during the crisis.
The newspaper reported that about 29,800 pairs of gloves, 120 consignments of sanitiser products, 234,090 face masks, and 104 mask filters have been seized int he past two weeks, as part of what the ABF dubbed “operation hangfire”. Jason Wood, the assistant customs minister, said the ABF was working to ensure “dodgy” medical equipment didn’t enter the country.
The chief medical officer Brendan Murphy is expected to hold a press conference shortly. I’ll bring you updates as soon as they happen.
We’ve learned today that the consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, was preparing to take Flight Centre to court over its policy of charging customers a $300 fee per person, per booking for Covid-19 related travel cancellations.
Flight Centre said yesterday it would now waive the fee, which had provoked widespread customer anger.
But the ACCC says its next step to deal with Flight Centre was legal action.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said the company’s decision would allow the issue to be dealt with more quickly than legal proceedings.
“This is a very welcome move made by Flight Centre for thousands of customers impacted by Covid-19 travel cancellations,” Sims said on Sunday.
“We are continuing to discuss issues in relation to refunds and cancellations with the travel sector, and encourage travel providers to treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances.”
The full report is here:
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That might be where I leave you for today, but never fear, you are in good hands with Christopher Knaus, who will guide you through the rest of Sunday’s news.
The most recent death in WA brings Australia’s death toll to 95.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said he is not currently planning to lift intrastate borders.
I know there’s a lot of pressure around that but I wouldn’t think so. We’ll just take medical advice on that. The main thing we’re focused on is getting this right, and making sure we don’t make changes that we then have to lock down again in the future…
There are a lot of people in the regions who want us to keep the borders in place for longer.
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WA records new death
WA Premier Mark McGowan has confirmed the death of an 83-year-old woman who contracted Covid-19 from close contact.
She was admitted to hospital in mid-April and died on 30 April.
WA recorded no new cases overnight, the fourth consecutive day of zero cases. They now have only 19 active cases across the state.
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