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What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Saturday March 21.

Australian cases surpasses 1000.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 1000 across Australia, with that number continuing to rise.

As of Saturday, March 21, there are 1051 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

There are 436 cases in New South Wales – the epicentre of coronavirus in Australia. In other states and territories, there are 229 cases in Victoria, 221 cases in Queensland, 50 cases in South Australia, 90 cases in Western Australia, 10 infections in Tasmania, nine in the ACT and five in the Northern Territory.

“This is the most difficult health situation in the last 100 years,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Saturday afternoon. “Australia and NSW are handling this as well as any jurisdiction in the world.”

Globally, there are 276,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and the number of deaths has now surpassed 11,000. Over 90,000 people have recovered.

Italy’s death toll skyrockets

In Italy, the national death toll surged by 627 over the past 24 hours, to 4,032 — by far the world’s largest daily rise since the contagion emerged.

As a result, Italy, which is already in lockdown, has imposed further restrictions on public life in an increasingly desperate effort to prevent additional infections. The national government in Rome said that, from Saturday, all parks would be closed and people could only exercise around their homes.

The latest crackdown effectively bans jogging and bicycle rides, the only types of outdoor exercise that were allowed.

The Italian government last week ordered restaurants, bars and most shops to shut down nationwide until March 25.

In addition, it shut schools and universities and told everyone to stay at home for all but crucial reasons until April 3.

Outrage as beach-goers in Bondi ignore social distancing.

Sydney’s Bondi was packed on Friday afternoon, sparking outrage that thousands of beach-goers ignored the Federal Government’s strict social distancing instructions.

After footage of people packing onto its famous sands drew worldwide condemnation, the NSW government closed Bondi Beach on Saturday.

NSW Police David Elliott announce the measure on Saturday afternoon, saying: “What we saw this morning here on Bondi Beach was the most irresponsible behaviour of individuals that we have seen so far. We cannot have an active area of community activity where more than 500 people are gathered.

“This is not something we’re doing because we’re the fun police, this is not something the government is doing to make life easy. This is about saving lives.”

There is currently a ban on non-essential outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people, and people are advised to keep at least 1.5 metres away from others in order to prevent possible transmission of the virus.

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Evidently, thousands of beach-goers ignored those instructions on Friday.

The photos surfacing online sparked fury on Twitter, with hundreds condemning those who crowded the popular tourist destination.

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Online, many people have compared the scenes at Bondi to the photos of New York’s Time Square, which is largely empty.

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On Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced new regulations to non-essential indoor gatherings in an effort to strengthen social distancing measures.

On top of the existing rule limiting indoor spaces to 100 occupants, venues and businesses must now only have one person per four square metres of floor space. The rule is designed to dictate occupant capacity; it’s not about how far apart occupants should be once inside. (The 1.5-metre distancing rule still applies here.)

Cruise passengers urged to self-isolate.

Health authorities are urging almost 3,800 passengers and crew from a cruise that returned to Sydney to self-isolate, after four people onboard were confirmed to have COVID-19.

As NSW’s total cases rose to 382 on Friday, at least four people on the Princess Cruises-operated Ruby Princess cruise ship that arrived in Sydney the previous day were confirmed to be infected.

Three of the confirmed cases were passengers who disembarked the ship after it docked in Circular Quay, while the fourth was a crew member who remains in isolation on the ship.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday said it was possible other people on board had COVID-19 and everyone needed to self-isolate for 14 days.

WATCH: Some of your questions about the virus, answered. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

Boris Johnson shuts UK pubs and restaurants.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has effectively closed down the UK, ordering pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms to shut their doors, as his government vowed to cover 80 per cent of affected workers’ wages.

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As the coronavirus outbreak sweeps across the world, governments, companies and investors are grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic.

“I do accept that what we’re doing is extraordinary: we’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub, and I can understand how people feel about that,” Boris Johnson said on Friday.

“It’s heartbreaking to think of the businesses that will face difficulties as a result of the measures this country has had to take.”

The UK so far has 3983 confirmed cases of coronavirus, after 66,976 people were tested, though the government’s scientists say it is raging across London, partly as some people are not obeying government advice to isolate. A total of 177 people with the virus have died so far.

New York and California impose tougher restrictions.

California has ordered nearly 40 million people to stay home and the state of New York has told all non-essential workers to do the same while pleading for more medical personnel and supplies to treat coronavirus cases.

The pandemic has upended life in much of the US, shuttering schools and businesses, prompting millions to work from home, forcing many out of jobs and sharply curtailing travel.

“This is the most drastic action we can take,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference on Friday.

He announced he would issue an executive order to mandate that 100 per cent of the non-essential workforce stay home and all non-essential businesses close.

“Remain indoors, go outside for solitary exercise,” he said.

New York has 7102 confirmed cases, 2950 of which are new.

Read more:

The Australian Government Department of Health advises that the only people who will be tested for COVID-19 are those with symptoms who have either returned from overseas in the past 14 days or been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days.

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.

Feature Image: Getty/Twitter. 

– With AAP.


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