Brazil has recorded its highest daily death toll, with more than 800 deaths in 24 hours, while South Korea is sticking to its plan to ease restrictions despite a cluster of cases linked to a nightclub district in the capital city.
In Australia, the coronavirus death toll has risen to 98 after another Ruby Princess fatality, while the Chief Medical Officer is seeking advice on a coronavirus-linked condition that has killed three children in the US.
This story is being updated throughout Wednesday. You can also listen to the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Wednesday’s top storiesAnother death linked to Ruby Princess
NSW health authorities have confirmed an 81-year-old woman who had been a passenger on the Ruby Princess died from COVID-19 yesterday.
The death raises Australia’s coronavirus death toll to 98 and the number of fatalities linked to the cruise ship to 22.
New South Wales confirmed six new coronavirus infections this morning, from more than 8,100 tests. That came after the state announced yesterday that it had gone 24 hours without confirming a new case for the first time since the pandemic began.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said NSW Health knew the source of three of the new cases.
Victoria recorded seven new cases overnight, with none of them linked to the Cedar Meats outbreak in Melbourne. However, the state’s total only went up by by five as two previous cases were reclassified and removed.
Queensland’s tally went up by one this morning, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was an “old case”.
Western Australia recorded no new cases this morning, with Premier Mark McGowan saying only one COVID-19 patient remained in hospital in the state.
In the daily coronavirus briefing, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the total number of cases recorded nationwide was at 6,975, estimating about 700 people were still sick with COVID-19.
Find out moreAustralia seeking advice on coronavirus-linked syndrome similar to Kawasaki disease Greg Hunt said there were no signs of the condition in Australia.(Reuters: Remo Casilli)
Health Minister Greg Hunt says paediatric experts from around Australia have been asked to give advice on a disease with suspected links to coronavirus that has killed three children in the US.
The inflammatory condition, which resembles Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome, has also been noted in children in the United Kingdom and Italy. Seventy children have been diagnosed in the US.
But Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says there are no known cases in Australia, likely because of the comparatively low number of COVID-19 cases.
“When a disease is more common, the rarer potential effects of those diseases are more likely to be seen, and so it is our belief that is the case with this particular disease,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily definitely associated with COVID-19 at the moment but it certainly is suggested that is the case.”
Dr Kelly said there had also been no increase in known cases of Kawasaki disease in Australia.
Mr Hunt said Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and Dr Kelly were also seeking advice from overseas.
“What they’re determining is the relationship between it and COVID-19, whether it’s in some way triggered or caused by COVID-19 or whether with the mass testing that has been done a condition which is otherwise there has been shown up,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
Mr Hunt said National Cabinet would be briefed on the issue this week.
Brazil records highest daily death toll so far as cities defy president There is no national lockdown in Brazil, but some states and cities have introduced their own.(Reuters: Ricardo Moraes)
Brazil has recorded its highest daily death toll from coronavirus, with 881 deaths over the past 24 hours.
The country is the worst-hit in Latin America, with more than 177,000 cases and 12,000 deaths.
Faced with overwhelmed hospitals, Brazilian states and cities have introduced their own lockdowns against the will of President Jair Bolsonaro, who says job losses are more damaging than COVID-19.
However, most governors and mayors have not imposed mandatory stay-at-home orders.
“It is late in terms of avoiding hospital collapse, but certainly it isn’t too late to avoid a bigger catastrophe,” said Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s non-profit Institute for Health Policy Studies.
Many intensive care hospital units are full and cemeteries are increasingly overwhelmed with bodies.
Contact tracing app COVIDSafe now fully functional The Government launched COVIDSafe at the end of last month.(ABC News: Rachel Riga)
The Federal Government’s coronavirus contact tracing app is fully functional, with all state and territory governments now having signed up.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said all of the relevant states and territory authorities had now been trained in how to use the app, which means public health units are now able to access data from the app.
“We are now absolutely certain privacy and data security issues [are] all taken care of, in terms of states and territories agreeing to our proposals,” he said.
“All states and territories have now been trained to use it and know what information they are going to get and how it can be used for contact tracing purposes.
“We will look forward to seeing how that helps our disease detectives do their work in coming days.”
South Korea to push on with easing restrictions despite nightclub cluster So far, 119 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to an outbreak in Seoul’s nightclub district.(AP: Ahn Young-joon)
Health authorities have no immediate plans to reinstate strict social distancing rules in South Korea despite a fresh coronavirus outbreak in the capital of Seoul.
Officials have scrambled to trace and test thousands of people over the past week after a cluster of new infections linked to nightclubs and bars in Seoul’s Itaewon district raised fears of a second wave outbreak.
They have linked at least 119 cases of COVID-19 to the nightspots, which had just reopened as part of the country’s move to ease lockdown measures to jumpstart its struggling economy.
Vice-Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said bringing back the social distancing rules was unlikely as long as the daily number of new cases remained below 50 and officials were able to trace 95 per cent of all infections.
“For now, we will still monitor how the current transmissions go and review whether we should reconsider our distancing policy,” Mr Kim said.
Authorities have been using credit card and phone records to track down people who may have been exposed to confirmed cases linked to the nightclub outbreak.
Trump backs Tesla reopening as Californian county officials give the all clear The employee car park at Tesla’s Fremont factory was seen full of cars earlier this week.(AP: Ben Margot)
Local county officials appear to have agreed to the reopening of Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, after chief executive Elon Musk and US President Donald Trump both weighed in on the matter.
The Alameda County Health Department said early on Wednesday the Fremont factory would be able to go beyond basic operations this week and start making vehicles this coming Monday — as long as it delivered on the worker safety precautions it agreed to.
On Monday, Mr Musk said production was resuming at the company’s factory, defying an earlier order to stay closed, saying if anyone had to be arrested, it should be him.
It is not clear from the Health Department’s press release whether Tesla will face any punishment for reopening on Monday.
It said Fremont police would verify whether Tesla was holding up its part of the agreement.
On Tuesday night, Mr Trump urged local authorities to allow Tesla to reopen, saying it could be done “fast and safely”, to which Mr Musk responded: “Thank you!”.
Employee car parks at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California were packed with cars on Tuesday. Trucks could be seen driving in and out of the factory grounds.
At the factory’s outbound logistics parking lot, where only a dozen Tesla cars were parked last week, hundreds of Tesla vehicles were seen on Tuesday.
NRL player Nathan Cleary fined for breaching restrictions Nathan Cleary, right, initially claimed he was at his house when the videos were filmed.(AAP: Joel Carrett)
Penrith Panthers star Nathan Cleary has been hit with a $1,000 fine for breaching COVID-19 restrictions, over videos published on social media.
NSW Police today confirmed Cleary was fined for non-essential travel, after it was revealed he lied about his whereabouts when the videos were filmed.
After initially claiming he was at his house, Cleary admitted travelling to a friend’s home.
Cleary was yesterday suspended by the NRL for two matches after filming videos with five women who were fined by police last month.
Remote travel in the NT set to reopen two weeks early Michael Gunner said the details would be formalised this week.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the Federal Government seems happy to allow remote travel within the Territory to open up two weeks early.
Mr Gunner said he had spoken with the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, today.
Remote travel restrictions were to expire on June 18, but travel may be permitted as early as June 5.
Mr Gunner said the details would be formalised at National Cabinet later this week before the Australian Government makes necessary legal changes around biosecurity rules.
“He agreed with me and with the land councils that with the Territory’s current good rates around community transmission and the coronavirus we can work towards a June 5 date around the lifting of those internal restrictions,” he said.
More cases confirmed at ‘high risk’ Chinese city China says it has learned from its experience with the virus.(AP Photo: Ng Han Guan)
The vice-mayor of Jilin city, the second-largest city in Jilin province in China’s north-east, has warned there is a huge risk that coronavirus could spread further after six new cases were confirmed today.
Five of the new infections in the city could be traced directly to one confirmed case in the city of Shulan, where an infection cluster was previously reported. Shulan has been forced to adjust its risk level to “high” from “medium”.
Vice-Mayor Gai Dongping told reporters that Jilin authorities would step up measures to curb and contain the virus. The city already said it would temporarily suspend departing or transiting passenger rail services at a key train station.
One other case was confirmed today on the Chinese mainland, an imported case in Shanghai.
Russia has second highest number of infections in the world Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed he is battling COVID-19.(AP: Sergei Karpukhin/Pool Photo, File)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has tested positive for coronavirus and is receiving treatment at hospital, Russian news agencies reported.
The announcement came after a surge in coronavirus cases that put Russia at the second-highest number of infections in the world after the United States.
Russia now has 232,243 recorded cases and 2,116 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The country has reported 10,000-plus new cases for 10 consecutive days.
“Yes, I am sick. I am receiving treatment,” Mr Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
He said he had last met Mr Putin in person over a month ago, the TASS news agency reported.
Mr Peskov isn’t the only high-profile Russian official to fall ill: others who have been diagnosed with coronavirus include Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova and Construction Minister Vladimir Yakushev.
Mr Putin has been working remotely from his residence outside Moscow and has been holding many meetings via video conference.
Russian factory and construction workers returned to work on Tuesday despite the surge in cases.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer to focus on mental health impact
Dr Ruth Vine has been chosen to take on the new role of Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, focused on mental health.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
It will be her job to coordinate the federal response to strains on mental health, including the coronavirus crisis as well as bushfires and drought.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said there was concern the nation could experience a surge in suicide in the coming months.
“There has been very significant modelling done by the University of Sydney, and we take this very seriously. And that’s why we’re trying to get ahead of the curve with mental health, in just the same way that we have done with the virus,” he said.
That University of Sydney modelling suggested 750 additional lives could be lost to suicide each year for the next five years.
British train station worker dies after being spat at Belly Mujinga died of coronavirus after being spat at while on duty.(AP: Agnes Ntumba)
A woman who worked at one of London’s busiest train stations has died after having previously been spat at by a man who said he had coronavirus, her union said.
Belly Mujinga, 47, who worked in the ticket office at Victoria station and had an 11-year-old daughter, was on the concourse in March when a man assaulted her and a female colleague.
“The man coughed over them and told them he had the virus,” the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said in a statement.
Both women fell ill within a few days of the incident and Mujinga, who had underlying respiratory problems, was later taken to hospital and put on a ventilator.
She died on April 5, 14 days after the assault at Victoria.
“She is one of far too many front-line workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus,” TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said in a statement.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the attack “despicable”, and British Transport Police have launched an investigation.
US death projection revised up again, this time by nearly 10,000 More than 82,000 people have already died in the United States.(Reuters: Brendan McDermid)
A newly revised model predicts more than 147,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, up nearly 10,000 from the last projection.
The latest forecast from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reflects “key drivers of viral transmission like changes in testing and mobility, as well as easing of distancing policies”.
The model, which has been cited by White House officials and state public health authorities, had already been revised up multiple times.
The latest forecast gives a best-case scenario of 102,783 lives lost and a worst-case scenario of 223,489 fatalities.
More than 1.3 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, with the country recording more than 82,000 deaths.
US President Donald Trump has been encouraging states to end the weeks-long closure of major components of their economies.
This chart uses a logarithmic scale to highlight coronavirus growth rates. Read our explainer to understand what that means — and how COVID-19 cases are spreading around the world.Anthony Fauci clashes with Republican senator during testimony An opinion poll this week showed 61 per cent of Republicans trust the information they get from Anthony Fauci.(AP: Win McNamee)
America’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has warned Congress that a premature lifting of lockdowns could not only lead to “needless suffering and death” but also set back economic recovery.
He also clashed with Republican senator Rand Paul, who questioned the accuracy of models predicting the pandemic’s path and said he believed it would be a mistake not to reopen schools.
“As much as I respect you, Dr Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all,” Senator Paul told the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make a decision.”
In response, Dr Fauci said “we don’t know everything about this virus” and referred to a rare inflammatory syndrome believed to be linked to coronavirus that has killed at least three children in New York and afflicted dozens of others.
“I think we’d better be careful that we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” he said.
A CNN opinion poll this week showed 61 per cent of Republicans trust the information they get from Dr Fauci versus 81 per cent of Democrats. Meanwhile, 84 per cent of Republicans trust the information they get about coronavirus from US President Donald Trump versus 4 per cent of Democrats.
Josh Frydenberg tests negative for coronavirusSpace to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 1 minute 14 seconds1m 14s Josh Frydenberg has coughing fit during economic update
Josh Frydenberg says his test for coronavirus has come back negative.
The Treasurer suffered a serious coughing fit in the House of Representatives yesterday while delivering a statement about Australia’s economic outlook.
He consulted with one of the nation’s deputy chief medical officers, and was tested out of what he described as “an abundance of caution”.
He tweeted the result this morning.
First case in South Sudan protection camp South Sudan was one of the last countries in Africa to confirm a case of coronavirus.(AP: Sam Mednick)
For the first time, COVID-19 has been confirmed in a crowded civilian protection camp in South Sudan’s capital, the United Nations said, a worrying development in a country that is one of the world’s least prepared for the virus’s spread.
The UN is aware that the health ministry and the World Health Organization have confirmed two cases in the camp in Juba, a spokesperson with the UN mission in South Sudan said.
A health ministry worker said the two infected people were South Sudanese and in their 20s.
South Sudan was one of the last countries in Africa to confirm a case of the disease and now has 174 confirmed.
As of mid-April more than 190,000 people were still sheltering in several UN-run civilian protection camps across South Sudan, more than a year after a peace deal ended a five-year civil war.
Nearly 30,000 are sheltering in Juba.
The prospect of the coronavirus’ spread to refugee and displaced persons’ camps in Africa, the Middle East and Asia has alarmed health and other aid officials as often remote locations, travel restrictions and shortages of medical supplies make any containment and treatment extremely challenging.
Wuhan to test all residents for coronavirus New cases have been reported in China’s seven provinces in recent weeks.(AP: Zhang Yuwei via Xinhua)
Authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan plan to test all 11 million residents for COVID-19 by the end of next week, in a massive push to extinguish any remnants of coronavirus from the original epicentre of the global pandemic.
In the past two weeks, new cases have been reported in China’s seven provinces, including Hubei, the original epicentre of the outbreak late last year.
China’s health authority said the reappearance of local clusters of coronavirus cases in recent days suggests that counter-epidemic measures cannot be relaxed yet.
The all-encompassing testing contrasts with shortages of testing kits in some other countries such as the United States, where people have complained about not being able to get a test despite having coronavirus symptoms.
Canadian deaths hit 5,000 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is concerned about the number of deaths in care homes.(Reuters: Blair Gable)
The Canadian coronavirus death toll passed the 5,000 mark on Tuesday and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said major reforms were needed to seniors’ residences, where more than 80 per cent of the victims lived.
The public health agency said the number of deaths edged up by 2.9 per cent to 5,049 from 4,906 on Monday, one of the smallest daily gains so far.
Canada is the 11th nation to record more than 5,000 deaths from the outbreak.
Long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec — the two most populous of the 10 provinces — have been particularly hard hit. Officials have detailed poor conditions in some residences, where employees earn just the minimum wage.
“We’ve seen heartbreaking tragedies in long-term care facilities and nursing homes right across the country — overworked staff, understaffed residences, grieving families,” Mr Trudeau said.
“There are serious underlying challenges facing these facilities and in the coming months the Federal Government will be there to help the provinces find lasting solutions.”
WHO sees ‘potentially positive data’ on COVID-19 treatments Dr Harris did not specifically name the treatments.(7.30 Report)
The World Health Organization says some treatments appear to be limiting the severity or length of COVID-19 and that it was focusing on learning more about four or five of the most promising ones.
“We do have some treatments that seem to be in very early studies limiting the severity or the length of the illness, but we do not have anything that can kill or stop the virus,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said.
“We do have potentially positive data coming out but we need to see more data to be 100 per cent confident that we can say this treatment over that one.”
Dr Harris did not name the treatments.
Alexander Hamilton and Hercules Mulligan to the small screen
A film release of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton will be released on Disney + on July 3 to counter the closure of cinemas.
Disney had planned to debut the film, which features footage of the live show in June 2016 with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original cast, in movie theatres in October 2021.
But the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered Broadway stages and cineplexes, has prompted Disney to adapt its programming strategy.
“In light of the extraordinary challenges facing our world, this story about leadership, tenacity, hope, love and the power of people to unite against the forces of adversity is both relevant and impactful,” Disney executive chairman Bob Iger said in a statement.
“Hamilton” is a rap musical in which African-American and Latino actors play the founding fathers of the United States. It won 11 Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize.
There has also been a theatre version of the smash-hit musical scheduled for Sydney within the next year.
Lebanon returns to lockdown after easing restrictions The pandemic has compounded woes in Lebanon, which was already wrestling with a financial crisis.(AP: Bilal Hussein)
Lebanon’s Government has ordered most of the country to shut down again for four days, starting on Wednesday night (local time), as it seeks to ward off a coronavirus resurgence after easing some restrictions.
The country has been under lockdown since mid-March to rein in an outbreak that has infected 870 people and killed 26.
Lebanon started lifting restrictions last week as part of a longer-term plan, letting restaurants, hair salons, construction sites and others re-open at lower capacity.
But on Tuesday, the cabinet agreed on the “full closure” to curb a rise in new infections in recent days, after a drop in cases which the Government had hailed as a success.
“This achievement is at risk of collapsing” because some people did not comply with the guidelines, Prime Minister Hassan Diab was quoted as saying during the meeting.
Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad said the four-day closure, which excludes supermarkets and pharmacies, would also allow teams from the health ministry to conduct more testing.
Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreakWhat the experts are saying about coronavirus:Your questions on coronavirus answered:Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 10 minutes 42 seconds10m 7.30 has obtained new economic modelling indicating life might be back to normal sooner that you think