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What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Wednesday March 18.

-With AAP

Sixth person in Australia dies.

A sixth person in Australia has died from coronavirus overnight, NSW Health has confirmed. There have now been five deaths in NSW, and one death in Western Australia.

“NSW Health can confirm a fifth death in NSW from COVID-19,” NSW Health said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

“An 86-year-old man previously notified with COVID-19 died last night in a Sydney hospital. Our condolences are with his family and friends at this time.”

In NSW, the number of coronavirus infections stands at 267, with over 450 infections nationwide.

“We have done well in excess of 25,000 tests and continue to test a large number of people each day,” NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said on Wednesday at a press conference.

“What we have seen is increasing cases in returning travellers from Europe and also America, adding to the previous countries that we have had … Iran, South Korea and Hong Kong,” she said.

Woolworths’ new limits.

As supermarkets continue to be emptied of groceries and supplies amid the coronavirus crisis, Woolworths has introduced a new restriction to better ensure an even distribution of goods.

On Wednesday morning, the supermarket made the announcement of a per customer limit.

“As the situation continues to evolve, we’ve made some further changes to the maximum number of products customers can buy, in addition to any other limits already in place,” their statement reads.

“There is now a per customer, per shop limit of two items from any single category on most packaged products across Woolworths Supermarkets and Metro stores and online. This means customers will only be able to buy two products from any single included category, regardless of the brand or variety. There are some exceptions where no limits remain, such as fruit and vegetables, fresh milk and baby food.”

There is also no limit on Easter confectionery.

Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Aldi have also put out a group statement, asking everyone to do their part in helping the community by following the limits and only taking what you need to buy.

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Scott Morrison announces new COVID-19 measures 

Australia is not going into lockdown, yet.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has held a press conference at 9am AEST time and says: “We are going to keep Australia running, we are going to keep Australia functioning, but it won’t look like it normally does”.

“There is no short term quick fix,” said Morrison.

WATCH: Your COVID-19 questions answered. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

“The idea you can turn everything off for two weeks and turn everything on again is not our way through this,” he added. “There’s ridiculous stuff circulating about lockdowns and such. There’s even recordings alleged to represent cabinet meetings. Avoid all that nonsense you’re seeing on social media. Opinions are interesting, but facts are important.”

Schools, the Prime Minister has confirmed, will remain open.

“The virus operates very differently among younger people. It presents a very different health challenge to the broader population,” said Morrison.

“The health advice I am happy to follow for my kids, is the same advice I am asking other parents to follow. As a father I am happy for my kids to go to school. Everything we do we have to do for six months. The disruption that would occur if we shut schools would be severe. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost,” he explained.

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As the Prime Minister pointed out, if schools close it will take out up to 30 per cent of healthcare workers who have children, with Australia’s most senior health advisors encouraging schools to remain open.

A human biosecurity emergency has been declared, and a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more has been enforced as of today.

Essential gatherings include; airports, public transport, medical health facilities, disability or aged care facilities, correctional facilities, courts or tribunals, supermarkets, schools, shopping centres (for normal business of those premises), and mining sites.

Morrison says “everything else is considered non-essential”.

In terms of workplace management, Morrison says wherever possible we “need to keep Australians working”.

Australia has upgraded its international travel advice to the highest level, with all residents being told not to travel overseas at all.

It is the first time a level four “do not travel” advice has been enforced indefinitely.

“Do not go overseas. That is very clear, that instruction. For those who are thinking of going overseas in the school holidays, don’t. Don’t go overseas,” said Morrison.

The Prime Minister added that the 20,000 international student nurses living in Australia, will be available to support the Australian health effort.

In the aged care sector, unwell visitors or people returning from overseas will be barred from entering aged care facilities, and only short visits are being allowed for those that are being given access. A maximum of two people once a day is the new rule.

In cases of end of life, relatives will be able to – under very strict measures – allowed to visit their deceased loved ones.

Aged care facilities will be asked to facilitate those kinds of visits on a compassionate basis.

Airlines are being given a $175 million federal government lifeline.

The Prime Minister has also given a blunt message to anyone panic buying saying: “It’s ridiculous, It’s un-Australian, and it must stop.”

“It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been on of the most disappointing things I have ever seen in Australian behaviour, in response to this crisis,” Morrison told reporters.

Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli have been cancelled.

Australian-led Anzac Day services have been cancelled, with commemorations at Gallipoli and on the Western Front being shutdown.

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Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester said the decision to cancel was made with great regret, but the safety of people involved was paramount.

“We simply couldn’t be having large gatherings of 500 or 1000 people on Anzac Day on foreign soil this year,” he told ABC Breakfast this morning.

The Canberra commemoration will be conducted on a smaller scale but televised nationally.

Australia cases surpass 450.

Coronavirus cases in Australia are at 452 at the time of writing on Wednesday morning.

Five people have died from COVID-19, one in WA, three in NSW, and one in QLD.

Last night, The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommended Australians who are travelling overseas return home as soon as possible via commercial flights.

The federal body states difficulties could arise as countries close their borders in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or Novel coronavirus. They also warn consular assistance may be difficult to access due to increased movement restrictions.

The updated Smart Traveller website asks all Australians to reconsider any overseas travel plans.

Three-hour testing kits being rushed to Australia.

The test, which can check for COVID-19 within three hours, is being rushed onto the Australian market this week, as our country faces pressure on its ability to test for coronavirus due to what health authorities describe as an “unprecedented” demand on laboratories.

Roche, a multinational medical device company, says the test will allow health professionals to smash through 384 tests per shift.

They’re expected to arrive here today, injecting 100,000 new testing kits into Aussie labs.

coronavirus testing
Three-hour tests are arriving in Australia today. Image: Prabin Ranabhat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty.
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Dutton sent home from hospital.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is back home self-isolating, after testing positive to COVID-19.

"I've been discharged from hospital and am at home self-isolating with my dog Ralph. Thank you for all the kind messages, I'm feeling much better," he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

Queensland LNP senator Susan McDonald has been tested positive to coronavirus.

Her office said the two members of Federal Parliament did not recently have contact.

WHO urges against ibuprofen for the virus. 

Those who suspect they have the virus, are being urged not to take ibuprofen without consulting a doctor, the World Health Organisation says, pointing to ongoing research into possible negative effects.

"We recommend paracetamol, not ibuprofen in self medication," said spokesman Christian Lindmeier.

He added there were no recent studies that linked the drug to mortality rates, but added that experts were currently investigating the matter.

A recent article in medical journal The Lancet suggested that some drugs including ibuprofen might post a risk for COVID-19 patients who also suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes.

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Airlines in crisis.

Qantas will ground almost all of its international flights from late March as coronavirus-related bans all but shut down the global travel market.

The flight cancellations will see the grounding of around 150 aircraft (90 per cent of international flights), including most of the airline's international Airbus A380, Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 fleet until at least May.

Qantas and Jetstar domestic flights will also be reduced "by around 60 per cent until at least the end of May 2020," says the airline.

Virgin has grounded its international flights now as well, announcing the move in a statement to the ASX.

All overseas services are suspended from March 30 - June 14.

The airline is also slashing domestic capacity by 50 percent until June 14.

Tennis tournaments powering ahead. 

French Open organisers say it's "unthinkable" for them to cancel the 2020 edition of the claycourt grand slam after they received a barrage of criticism for rescheduling the event in the middle of the hardcourt season.

The tournament, which was due to be held from May 24-June 7, will now take place from Sept 20-October 4, meaning it will start one week after the US Open.

Wimbledon is still powering ahead, with officials continuing plans for the grasscourt major to start on June 29 as scheduled.

China only reports one locally transmitted case.

China has reported 21 new cases of the coronavirus, along with 13 new deaths caused by COVID-19.

All but one of the new confirmed cases were brought into the country by citizens returning from abroad, marking a new low for locally transmitted virus cases in China since reporting started.

The single new case that was locally transmitted was in Hubei province, where the outbreak first started in December, before travelling across the world.

A total of 3,226 people have died in China, with 80,881 infected of which 68,679 have recovered.

The Queen to leave London amid coronavirus.

At 93, the Queen is very much a part of the most at risk group as COVID-19 continues to spread, with the monarch to leave Buckingham Palace for Windsor Castle on Thursday.

The move is being labelled a "sensible precaution" amid Britain's coronavirus outbreak.

QUEEN-FEATURE
The Queen is heading to Windsor to wait out the coronavirus outbreak in Britain. Image: Getty.
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"Her Majesty will move to Windsor Castle for the Easter period on Thursday March 19, one week earlier than planned," the Palace said.

"It is likely the Queen will stay there beyond the Easter period."

Global stocks are rebounding.

A spike on Wall Street was noted after US President Donald Trump announced more measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak in America.

His government intends to send cheques to Americans in the next two weeks as part of a $850 billion stimulus package in an effort to curb the economic costs of the virus.

The Dow went from a gain of 400 to a gain of more than 1100 after the announcement, but some economists say a recession is already underway.

Inexperienced doctors to help Italy as their cases grow. 

Italy will rush 10,000 student doctors - who are yet to finish their university finals - into service, to help their struggling health service.

The death toll in the country has risen to 2,503 with confirmed cases at 31,506 - the largest number outside of China.

Hospitals are at breaking point in the country's north, where the outbreak is the most concentrated, with the soon-to-be graduates to be sent to old peoples' homes and GP clinics, freeing up more experienced colleagues for the hospitals.

Previous updates:

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Tuesday March 17.

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Monday March 16.

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Sunday March 15.

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Saturday March 14.

Feature image: Getty.

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