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Scott Morrison's latest press conference, and everything else to know about COVID-19 today.

Australia is “not too far away” from easing coronavirus restrictions.

In a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that Australia is “not too far away” from easing coronavirus restrictions.

The Prime Minister shared that the National Cabinet will meet today to discuss “the road back”.

Despite “the road back” becoming closer, however, the Prime Minister reiterated that international travel and mass gatherings won’t be resuming “anytime soon”.

“It won’t be exactly like it was before. I can’t see international travel occurring anytime soon. Can’t see that. The risks there are obvious,” he explained.

“The only exception to that, as I have flagged, is potentially with New Zealand, and we have had some good discussions about that. But outside of that, that is unlikely,” he added.

“But I look forward to the time when Australians can travel again within Australia. I look forward to the time where they can sit down for a meal at a restaurant or a cafe or a pub again.

“I look forward to the time where they can see, whether it is the AFL, the netball, the NRL, or whatever code they support, and being able to watch that again.

“But I can’t see them going along to a game for a while, those larger mass gatherings.”

Morrison also shared that the COVIDSafe app, which is the “ticket” to fewer restrictions, has been downloaded 2.8 million times.

“We would encourage all Australians, if you want to see us return to the more eased restrictions that I know you’re looking forward to and that I’m looking forward to, then it is important that you download the COVIDSafe app. That is your ticket, Australia’s ticket to a COVIDSafe Australia where we can go about the things that we love doing once again,” he said.

He stressed, however, that the app is not compulsory.

“As I said, downloading the app is like putting on sunscreen to go out into the sun,” he said.

“It gives us detection as a nation. It protects you, it protects your family, it protects your loved ones, it protects our health workers, and it protects your job, and the jobs of many others, because it enables us to move forward, and get the economy back on the track we want to be on.”

Christine Morgan, the chief executive of the National Mental Health Commission, also joined the Prime Minister at the press conference.

Morgan shared that since the pandemic measures have began, Beyond Blue has “seen a 40 per cent increase in contact being made to it over this time last year”.

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“We are also hearing – and this is anecdotal – that people aren’t feeling as safe as they once did. That is a concern,” she said.

She also reiterated the need for Australians to keep up and maintain their mental health checkups and appointments.

“I have said before that it is incredibly difficult to go behind closed doors to see what is happening in confined spaces, but we can look at the increase in calls to 1800 RESPECT, we can look at the increased calls, not there, but which we have also recorded, to Men’s Help Line,” she said.

“We know that this is happening, we know that people may be more challenged than normal to reach out for help, so I call on all Australians, keep your eyes alert for what may be needed.”

According to Morgan, a national plan is currently in development to address mental health amid – and after – the pandemic.

One community transmission in 24 hours.

In a 24-hour period, there has been just one case of community transmission recorded out of 12 diagnoses made nationally.

“That is perhaps the most important figure I have had the privilege of raising since coming into this role and dealing with the coronavirus issue,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said yesterday.

“It means that as a country, we are not just flattening the curve, but we are consolidating it, extending it and securing it.”

WATCH: Four more residents have died at a Sydney nursing home. Post continues after video.

Video by Today Show

He said Australians’ extraordinary efforts in adhering to social distancing measures was behind the plummeting infection rate.

Australia’s death toll rose to 88 last night with the confirmation of four more deaths at a western Sydney nursing home.

The latest victims are among the 11 residents to die at Newmarch House.

More than 5600 of the 6731 people diagnosed with coronavirus nationally have recovered.

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The current COVID-19 figures.

Major supermarkets are easing purchase limits on items that were subject to panic buying including toilet paper, rice, pasta and hand sanitiser.

West Australian schools will reopen today amid sustained federal pressure on the other states to return children to classrooms.

Victoria and Queensland are staying shut, while NSW is forging ahead with plans to increase face-to-face learning from May 11.

Debate around when the AFL and NRL should restart their competitions is continuing but football’s return will likely be guided by government principles.

More than 2.4 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe tracing app that uses Bluetooth interactions to record close contacts. The government’s goal is 10 million.

how will coronavirus end australia
The government wants to reach 10 million COVIDSafe downloads. Image: Getty.

NSW will from Friday allow two adults to visit another house for any reason, regardless of how many people live there.

Queenslanders will be permitted to travel up to 50 kilometres from home for picnics, visiting parks or non-essential shopping from Saturday.

China continues to threaten Morrison.

China says Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a "bully" for trying to "blame" the COVID-19 on the communist state, continuing their warning of a trade and travel boycott if Australia continues to push for an independent inquiry.

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The state-controlled People’s Daily accused Morrison of trying to use the calls for a probe to deflect criticism over his handling of the bushfires and the coronavirus crisis.

The publication predicts the Prime Minister’s call for an independent inquiry will be rejected by France and the United Kingdom, stating that "this is a slap on the face which has come quickly."

State-run newspaper Global Times also lashed out, calling it an "all-out crusade against China led by Australia", which is threatening to "frame and incriminate and spread preposterous lies."

CHINESE AMBASSADOR PRESS CONFERENCE
Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye ignited tensions by threatening Australian imports. Image: AAP /Lukas Coch.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson rang the Chinese ambassador to Australia on Tuesday to complain about earlier threats of Chinese people "not drinking Australian wine or eating Australian beef" but China soon after leaked the private conversation.

"Secretary Adamson tried her best to defend Australia’s proposal about the independent review, saying the proposal neither has political motive nor targets China," a spokesman said.

"She also admitted it is not the time to commence the review now and Australia has no details of the proposal. She further said that Australia does not want the matter to have any impact on the Australia-China relationship.

"Ambassador Cheng elaborated clearly China’s relevant position, stressing that no matter what excuses the Australian side has made, the fact cannot be buried that the proposal is a political manoeuvre.

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"Just as a western saying goes: Cry up wine and sell vinegar."

In a strongly worded and rare public statement late last night, the Department of Foreign Affairs accused China of disclosing “purported details of official diplomatic exchanges.”

QLD vaccine showing promising results.

Early tests of a potential COVID-19 vaccine have shown promising results against the deadly virus, Queensland researchers say.

The University of Queensland's COVID-19 vaccine has shown in pre-clinical tests it can raise high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus.

The university's project co-leader Professor Paul Young said the results were an excellent indication the vaccine worked as expected.

"This is what we were hoping for, and it's a great relief for the team given the tremendous faith placed in our technology by CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation), federal and Queensland governments and our philanthropic partners," Professor Young said.

"We were particularly pleased that the strength of the antibody response was even better than those observed in samples from COVID-19 recovered patients."

It's hoped the final results from pre-clinical tests will be confirmed by early June, allowing clinical trials to start.

Schools given $3 billion to bring students back.

Private schools are being offered an early payment of more than $3.3 billion if they get students back into classrooms within a month.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan wants to see students getting back to their normal education routines by the end of May, as the coronavirus crisis eases in Australia.

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But he's faced pushback from the state governments and private school bodies.

coronavirus-schools
Private schools are being given money by the government as an incentive to reopen. Image: Getty.

The minister has now written to the independent schools' peak body and the National Catholic Education Commission offering an early payment of a quarter of the annual funding due to them in July.

The idea is to give schools a cash boost if they need it to cope with the virus crisis while also giving them an incentive to end learning from home.

Schools don't have long to consider the offer, with Mr Tehan giving them until Friday to opt in.

Only one-third of Aussie retail will survive.

Two-thirds of the Australian fashion industry don't think they will be able to bounce back from the coronavirus-induced shutdown.

A survey by the Australian Fashion Council found only 34 per cent of the sector is confident they can rebound financially.

More than half the 182 chief executives and business owners surveyed believe the recovery will take more than a year.

retail coronavirus
Many Australian retailers won't survive coronavirus. Image: Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency via Getty.
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About 80 per cent of companies surveyed said they have been negatively affected by the pandemic, with the worst-hit companies reporting an average 86 per cent drop in in-store sales and a 56 per cent drop in online sales.

Most retailers have been closed since strict social distancing measures were put in place in March, though shops will be allowed to open in Queensland from Saturday.

Middle-aged people with COVID-19 dying of strokes.

Several hospitals in America have observed strokes in a number of people in their 30s and 40s with COVID-19, leading to concern that the infection may be causing blockages in the brain.

The Washington Post notes that three medical centres in the US will be publishing reports on dozens of COVID-19 patients who experienced strokes, the kind that are usually seen in only elderly patients.

Most of the patients possess few or no cardiovascular risk factors, and have either mild of non-existent coronavirus symptoms.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
Medical workers transporting coronavirus patients in New York City. Image: Getty.
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There has also been the discovery of a potential link between an inflammatory condition in children and coronavirus.

British health authorities reported as many as 12 children, some of whom tested positive to COVID-19, were seriously ill in hospital with severe inflammation in the body.

The children had symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome and a condition known as Kawasaki disease, where kids experience abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and cardiac inflammation.

Experts are trying to work out why kids under 15 are getting the mystery condition, and work out the link - if there is one - to COVID-19.

A dog has tested positive in America.

Winston the pug, in North Carolina, has tested positive for the coronavirus marking the first known infection of a dog in the United States.

In the household, the mother, father and son also tested positive while the daughter, another dog and a cat tested negative. The family's pet lizard was not tested.

The pug was exhibiting mild symptoms for a few days.

"There was one day when he didn't want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs, you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual," his owner told WRAL.

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Several cases have since been reported in pet cats and eight tigers and lions in a New York zoo.

Research suggests that dogs are susceptible to infection but appear to be less affected than ferrets or cats, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Around the world.

- Tokyo 2020 Olympics President Yoshiro Mori says the Olympic Games will be "scrapped" if they can not take place next year.

- India is nearing 30,000 coronavirus infections, with the country's six week lockdown due to end this weekend.

- Britain has fallen silent in honour of the 100 health and other key workers who have lost their lives fighting the pandemic.

- Germany's coronavirus infection rate is no longer in decline, after restrictions were eased last week.

- Russia has seen a record daily rise in new cases, with 6,411 cases and 72 deaths recorded on Tuesday.

- US virus cases are approaching 1 million, doubling in 18 days, More than 56,000 people have died.

- A prominent Manhattan emergency room doctor who had treated a staggering number of coronavirus patients has died by suicide. Her father says she was a casualty of the war in the trenches.

- Soccer players in Spain will be allowed to resume individual training next week, with the country lifting restrictions gradually in four, two week phases.

- Luxembourg is the first country to commit to testing all 600,000 of its citizens.

- With AAP

Feature image: Getty/AAP.

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home unless strictly necessary, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.


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