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Australia's death toll rises to 7 and everything else you need to know about COVID-19 today, Friday March 20.

Seventh Australian death confirmed.

An 81-year-old woman has died from COVID-19 overnight, bringing the total number of coronavirus deaths in Australia to seven.

The elderly woman had close contact with another confirmed case of COVID-19 at Ryde Hospital in Sydney.

An 86-year-old man died in a Sydney hospital on Tuesday. Three people, two women aged 90 and 95, and an 82-year-old man from the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility in Macquarie Park have died, along with a 77-year-old woman from NSW, and a 78-year-old man from Perth.

In NSW alone overnight another 46 cases of COVID-19 were reported. Six are currently in intensive care.

“A period of great concern.” The Queen and Prince Phillip are bunkering down in Windsor.

The Queen and her husband Prince Phillip have arrived in Windsor, leaving London a week earlier than planned to socially-distance themselves.

At 93, and 98, the royal couple are both considered subject to increased risk of both contracting the disease and having complications from it.

 

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A MESSAGE FROM HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN . As Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families across the United Kingdom, and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty. We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them. At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal. We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals – today and in the coming days, weeks and months. Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part. ELIZABETH R

A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily) on

In a statement The Monarch said: “As Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families across the United Kingdom, and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty.

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“We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them.”

“At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.

“We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals – today and in the coming days, weeks and months.

“Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge.

“You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”

Recession of “record dimensions” a near certainty.

The world’s richest countries have poured unprecedented aid into the global economy as coronavirus cases balloon in the new epicentre of Europe.

The epidemic has stunned the world and drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War II, the 2008 financial crisis, and the 1918 Spanish flu.

UN chief, Antonio Guterres, warned that a global recession, “perhaps of record dimensions”, was a near certainty.

“This is a moment that demands co-ordinated, decisive, and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies,” Guterres told reporters via a videoconference

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“We are in an unprecedented situation and the normal rules no longer apply.”

Tourism and airlines have been particularly battered, as the world’s citizens hunker down to minimise contact and curb the spread of the flu-like COVID-19.

But few sectors have been spared by a crisis threatening a lengthy global recession.

Markets have suffered routs unseen since the 2008 financial debacle, with investors rushing to the US dollar as a safe haven.

But European and US stocks made a tentative recovery on Thursday, and oil prices rebounded, though the reprieve may be brief.

Policymakers in the United States, Europe and Asia have slashed interest rates and opened liquidity taps to stabilise economies hit by quarantined consumers, broken supply chains, disrupted transport and paralysed businesses.

WATCH: Some of your COVID-19 questions answered. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

The virus, thought to have originated from wildlife in mainland China late last year, has jumped to 172 other countries and territories with over 20,000 new cases reported in the past 24 hours – a new daily record.

Italian soldiers transported corpses overnight from an overwhelmed cemetery in Europe’s worst-hit country.

Germany’s military was also readying to help despite sensitivities over its deployment dating back to the Nazi era.

Supermarkets in many countries were besieged with shoppers stocking up on food staples and hygiene products.

Some rationed sales and fixed special hours for the elderly.

Solidarity projects were springing up in some of the world’s poorest corners.

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In Kenya’s Kibera slum, for example, volunteers with plastic drums and boxes of soap on motorbikes set up handwashing stations for people without clean water.

Russia reported its first coronavirus death on Thursday.

Amid the gloom, China provided a ray of hope as it reported zero new local transmissions in a thumbs-up for its draconian containment policies since January.

Imported cases, however, surged, accounting for all 34 new infections.

In the United States, infections surpassed 9400 across all 50 states and deaths reached at least 151.

In a bewildering raft of financial measures around the world, the European Central Bank launched new bond purchases worth 750 billion euros ($A1.4 trillion). That brought some relief to bond markets and also halted European shares’ slide.

With some economists fearing prolonged pain akin to the 1930s Great Depression and others expecting a bounce-back, gloomy data and forecasts abounded.

In one of the most dire calls, JP Morgan economists forecast the Chinese economy to drop over 40 per cent this quarter and the US economy to shrink 14 per cent in the next.

Ratings agency Moody’s prepared for mass downgradings.

Australia closing its borders today. 

All non-Australian citizens and non-residents will be banned from entering the country from 9pm Friday.

Australians and their direct family members will still be allowed in but must self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the country.

The Morrison government is also finalising a second stimulus package to cushion the economic blow caused by the pandemic.

MORRISON
The Prime Minister is closing Australia's borders to non-residents at 9pm tonight. Image: Sky.
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The package will be discussed in Friday's cabinet meeting which will also finalise further advice for the ban on indoor gatherings of over 100 people.

The guidance will give more clarity to cinemas, theatres, hospitality venues and those organising weddings and funerals.

Tasmania has imposed the most dramatic lockdown in the country, requiring those entering the state to go into quarantine for 14 days, from Friday.

NSW's chief health officer says it is reassuring that many coronavirus cases are mild.

Dr Kerry Chant says the approach of hospitalising all COVID-19 positive cases had been abandoned as cases rise in Australia.

"Many of our patients are being managed in the community and being managed at home, and we are only admitting patients now that require hospital care," he said.

Qantas workers to be redeployed to Woolworths. 

Qantas boss Alan Joyce is in discussions with supermarket giant Woolworths to redeploy some of his workers there temporarily.

The airline chief is standing down two-thirds of his employees in the face of COVID-19 grounding most flights - which equates to some 20,000 people.

"This is the worst crisis the aviation industry has gone through. I know for the economy it's probably going to be a lot worse than the GFC," Mr Joyce told ABC's 7.30 program.

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The company is allowing workers to access long service leave early, and those who have exhausted their annual leave to take up to four weeks in advance.

Those that will (hopefully) be redeployed to Woolies to wait out the pandemic, will help pack fast depleting shelves.

Italian death toll surpasses China. 

The death toll in Italy has risen by 427 to 3405 in 24 hours, overtaking the official number of deaths in China.

The day before, the European city recorded 475 deaths.

In China, where the virus began, there have been 3245 deaths since late last year.

Italy's outbreak only started on February 21.

Trump announces "gamechanger" drugs.

US President Donald Trump has announced that two drugs could be a “gamechanger” in treating coronavirus and will be made available almost immediately by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The antimalarial drugs — hydroxychloroquine and Cloroquine— would soon be available for "prescribed use" he explained.

"It’s been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody," he told reporters. "It’s shown encouraging very, very early results."

WHO back peddles on ibuprofen warning.

The World Health Organisation has withdrawn its warning that people who suspect they might have caught coronavirus should not take ibuprofen.

The UN Agency says that is is not aware of published scientific data on this topic, adding that it had not seen any reports about negative effects from doctors who treat patients suffering from COVID-19.

It does maintain however, that people who think they might be infected, should not take the anti-inflammatory drug without consulting a doctor.

Radio stations across Europe and Britain to play You'll Never Walk Alone, simultaneously.

BBC radio and stations across Europe will simultaneously play the song You'll Never Walk Alone, as a show of unity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

BBC Radio 1's Greg James, BBC Radio 2's Zoe Ball and BBC Radio 6 Music's Lauren Laverne will all play the Gerry And The Pacemakers track at 7.45am on Friday morning local time.

The BBC wanted to show "solidarity" with its fellow European broadcasters by playing the Liverpudlian band's song.

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The initiative first came from Dutch radio presenter Sander Hoogendoorn of station 3FM.

He said he is "very proud" that so many stations are taking part, adding: "We all have to do what we can to beat this crisis.

"Things like this just go beyond the boundaries of radio channels."

He said that the song, which is the anthem of Liverpool Football Club, "could speak to those doing an incredible job working in healthcare right now, those who are ill or those who can't leave their house for a while".

Stations in countries across Europe including Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, Romania and Spain will be taking part.

-With AAP

Previous update:

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

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.

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