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

– With AAP

ANZAC Day Services cancelled across Australia

ANZAC Day services in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have been cancelled after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a ban on “non-essential” mass gatherings of over 500 people on Friday.

Decisions relating to the April 25 commemoration were made in collaboration between state governments and their relevant Returned and Services Leagues (RSL) and publicly announced on Monday.

In a statement shared on Twitter, RSL NSW said “the risk to vulnerable people during the current health situation is simply too high for these events to continue in their traditional format”.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly. The RSL has a responsibility to act in the best interests of veterans and the general public.

“In these uncertain times we must follow the advice of medical experts and do everything we can to protect the community.”

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Some services in Victoria will continue to go ahead but without crowds and public audiences. A dawn service at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance will still take place but the ANZAC Day march will not proceed.

At the time of publishing, RSL South Australia has yet to confirm whether they will also be cancelling their ANZAC Day events.

Alan Jones compares the coronavirus pandemic to climate change.

2GB radio host and well-known climate change denier, Alan Jones, has compared the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change.

Speaking on radio this morning, the 78-year-old said the attention around the potentially deadly virus was largely exaggerated.

“Unless I’m moving in different circles, the almost universal reaction I am getting is that we have gone mad,” he said.

“And in this modern world, at the slightest provocation it seems, we revert — in spite of all the money spent on education — we revert to hysteria and alarmism.

“We now seem to be facing the health version of global warming. Exaggeration in almost everything. Certainly in description, and certainly in behaviour.”

His comments have been widely condemned on social media, and are being labelled as irresponsible and “dangerous”.

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Australian death toll rises to 5.

A 90-year-old resident of the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care home in Sydney died on Saturday and testing confirmed she had COVID-19, NSW Health said in a statement on Sunday night.

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A 77-year-old woman also died from coronavirus after flying from Brisbane to Sydney on Friday, Queensland Health said.

She had developed symptoms on the plane, was taken to hospital and died the same day.

Watch: Mamamia’s Claire Murphy breaks down your most asked questions about COVID-19. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

The deaths add to the fatalities some weeks ago of two other residents, aged 82 and 95, at Dorothy Henderson Lodge and a Perth man, 78, who was evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan.

More than 150,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 5600 deaths.

The number of confirmed virus cases in Australia has risen to more than 300. Most of those people are in NSW and many have already recovered from their illnesses.

But Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the nation was not out of the woods yet, with the winter flu season just around the corner.

“What is different about Australia … we are not yet in winter,” Professor Kelly told reporters.

“All of the places we are seeing this virus really escalate quickly now, to other parts of the world, are in the northern hemisphere. They are in the latter part of their winter months.”

Woolworths to enforce ‘elderly only’ shopping hour.

From tomorrow, Woolworths Supermarkets is introducing temporary measures across its stores to help support the shopping needs of the elderly and people with disability in the community.

Until at least Friday, stores will be opening exclusively for the elderly and those with a disability to shop from 7am to 8am.

Access to the store during this period will require a relevant Government issued concession card.

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The unprecedented move comes as shelves are being stripped bare.

In Sydney over the weekend, a wild brawl broke out between shoppers at a packed Woolworths in the city’s south-west.

Images of the fight were uploaded to social media.

supermarket brawl
A fight broke out in Sydney. Image: Nine.

Further travel restrictions in place as of today. 

All people coming to Australia as of 12am on Monday will have to self-isolate for 14 days, while cruise ships will be banned from arriving at Australian ports for an initial 30 days.

All non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people have also been banned from Monday.

While schools will remain open "social distancing" will be increased and practices at aged care facilities are under review.

In NSW schools are cancelling assemblies, excursions, and travel, as well as some events and conferences, after cases in the state jumped by 22 over 24 hours.

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"We're going to have to get used some or more changes over the next six months or so," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference on the weekend.

"There will be further intrusions, further restrictions on people's movement and their behaviour."

Qantas and Virgin Australia say they will waive cancellation fees and offer travel credit to passengers whose travel plans have been impacted by travel restrictions.

Qantas is allowing domestic and international flights booked up to May 31 to be cancelled, and will retain the value as travel credit.

Virgin Australia passengers with international bookings from now until June 30, 2020, who no longer want to travel, are being given the option to change their flight to a later date or to a different destination, without incurring a change fee.

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Richard Wilkins has tested positive, sending Dancing With The Stars into disarray.

Channel Nine entertainment editor and weekend Today show host, Richard Wilkins, has tested positive for coronavirus.

Wilkins spoke to the Today team about his situation on Monday morning.

A spokesperson for Channel Nine on Sunday night said, “Richard Wilkins has tested positive to COVID-19. Richard is not showing any symptoms of the virus and has been self-isolating, on his own at home, since Thursday last week.”

“Since he is still without symptoms the authorities advise that he has not knowingly put others at risk, although anyone he has been in contact with prior to Thursday afternoon has been notified and will be tested if they show any symptoms of the virus.

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“We want to assure everyone that Richard is feeling well and still without symptoms.”

Although it has not been confirmed where Wilkins contracted the virus, 65-year-old Wilkins met with Rita Wilson at Channel Nine’s Willoughby studios.

Richard's son Christian is on the current season of Dancing With The Stars on Channel Ten, and is awaiting his test results after finding out last night once the show had already aired.

"All Dancing With The Stars Australia cast and crew have been asked to self monitor for symptoms relating to COVID-19 while we await the results of Christian's test," Channel Ten wrote in a post.

Strict penalties for failing to comply.

In Queensland, the penalty for failing to comply with coronavirus-related self-isolation orders was $13,000. In Western Australia, the penalty is $50,000.

People in NSW who breach the new rules on large gatherings will face a fine of up to $11,000 or up to six months jail, or both.

Ireland shuts down pubs ahead of St Pat's Day.

The Irish government says all pubs in the country should close until at least the end of the month to curb the spread of coronavirus after videos of singing in packed Dublin venues sparked anger on social media.

The move comes just two days before the country's national day, St Patrick's Day, which traditionally sees bars across the country packed from early in the day.

The annual parade celebrating the day had already been cancelled.

Ireland has had 129 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

It closed schools and universities last week and advised people to cancel all indoor gatherings of 100 people or more.

But it stopped short of closing cafes, bars and restaurants, as some European countries have done, citing the potential impact on workers and small businesses and saying owners should ensure customers are kept at a safe distance from each other.

But videos showing packed bars with sing-a-longs and crowded streets in Temple Bar, Dublin's busiest nightlife district, went viral on social media on Saturday under the #CloseThePubs hashtag.

A number of pubs had announced voluntary closures, but on Sunday afternoon the government moved after a meeting with pub owners, and called on "all public houses and bars (including hotel bars) to close from this evening until at least March 29".

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Pope walks Rome and prepares for Easter without an audience.

Pope Francis has ventured into a deserted Rome to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic as the Vatican said his Easter services will be held without the public for the first time.

Francis left the Vatican unannounced to pray at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and then walked along one of Rome's main streets to visit St Marcello church to pray before a crucifix that was used in a procession when the plague hit Rome in 1522.

A Vatican statement said he prayed for an end to the pandemic and also for the sick, their families and health providers and workers keeping pharmacies and food stores open across Italy amid a country-wide lockdown.

Italy has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other European country.

The country's death toll rose to 1,809 on Sunday and the total number of cases rose to 24,747.

Previous updates:

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

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

Read more:

Feature Images: Getty/AAP.

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