News in 5: Fake coronavirus 'cure' kills 44, Australia bans Italian tourists, George Pell & more.

1. Experts believe Iran could by lying about coronavirus numbers, while a fake “cure” has killed 44 people.

In one 24 hour period this week, Iran reported 881 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the number of infected in the country to more than 8000.

With close to 300 deaths, Iran has one of the deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 outside of China – but there’s fear the country is under-reporting its figures.

According to one journalist cited by The Atlantic, they think the figure could range between 500,000 to several million.

“A government website invited Iranians to submit details of symptoms they were experiencing. After 2 million responses, about 9 per cent reported COVID-19 symptoms.

“In the United States, among those whose symptoms and history have led them to be tested for COVID-19, about 10 per cent have eventually tested positive. If that rate holds, Iran would have 730,000 cases,” Graeme Wood explained.

There have also been 44 deaths in Iran due to methanol poisoning – with the deaths being blamed on rumours that drinking alcohol could help cure or protect from the disease.

Drinking alcohol is prohibited in Iran, and some citizens drank alcohol that substituted toxic methanol for ethanol.

If ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.

Italian visitors banned….

Italian visitors will be banned from Australia as of Wednesday evening as the government steps up efforts to protect the country from coronavirus.

The ban, to start from 6pm, comes as the Morrison government announced a $2.4 billion boost to health services.

Italy joins bans already in place for visitors from China, Iran and South Korea.

“I think that it is important not to overstate this,” Scott Morrison said in a press conference in Canberra.

“Italy itself has effectively put itself into lockdown with travel now, and this largely closes that loop.”

Aussie funding…

Free phone consultations with GPs and pop-up clinics to help hospitals handle demand will form part of the government’s $2.4 billion coronavirus response.

It comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt says more than half of Australia’s 100 cases had recovered and it was unlikely people could be infected twice.

The government released its response package on Tuesday night, promising further measures were on the way.

It will establish 100 pop-up clinics across Australia to divert people who may be infected away from hospitals.

Greg Hunt has announced a funding package for coronavirus in Australia. Image: Getty.

From Friday, Australians will be able to completely bulk-bill phone hook-ups with GPs to diagnose coronavirus symptoms.

Mr Hunt said it won't be necessary to introduce a country-wide travel ban like in Italy, although Qantas has slashed flights by nearly one quarter and more temporary schools closures are likely.

The government would also be reviewing its travel advice to Italy where more than 9000 people have contracted COVID-19 and 460 have died, Mr Hunt said on Tuesday.

There are an estimated 114,000 cases in 107 countries across the world, with 1000 recorded deaths.

Three Australians have died from coronavirus.

Sydney is the worst-hit city.

On Tuesday, six more people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in NSW, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 61.

NSW Health said one of the new patients, a woman in her 30s, is a relative of a Sydney aged care facility resident who died from coronavirus.

The department has also contacted students and teachers from a Sydney TAFE class after it was discovered an infected person attended for two days while potentially infectious.

2. Cardinal Pell's final bid for freedom starts today.

As Cardinal George Pell spends another day in solitary confinement at a Victorian prison, Australia's highest court will determine his future.

The 78-year-old is one year into his six-year sentence, handed down last year for sexually abusing two choirboys at St Patrick's Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.


A full bench of the High Court - either five or seven judges - will start hearing his legal team's final bid for his freedom in Canberra on Wednesday morning.

George Pell's final appeal begins today. Image: Getty.

Pell was convicted by a jury in 2018 of rape of one 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another. The first boy gave evidence against Pell, while the second died in 2014.

Pell maintained his innocence through two trials - the first ending in a hung jury - and last year's Victoria's Court of Appeal hearing which upheld the verdict in a 2-1 ruling.

The High Court has not formally granted Pell's application for appeal, instead referring it "for argument".

That means after the hearing, the court refuse the application for special leave, or approve it and either allow or dismiss the appeal.

Pell's lawyers are arguing the appeal on two grounds.

First, they say the Court of Appeal majority - Chief Justice Ann Ferguson and President Chris Maxwell - made an error in Pell was required to prove the offending was "impossible" in order to raise reasonable doubt against the surviving boy's evidence.

The third judge, Justice Mark Weinberg, found in favour of Pell's appeal.

Secondly, they argue the majority found there was a reasonable doubt as to the existence of any opportunity for Pell to have offended, so they made an error in concluding the guilty verdicts were not unreasonable.


They want Pell's convictions on five charges to be quashed, which would mean he is released from prison immediately.

3. Stationery chain kikki.K goes into administration.

Kikki.K is the latest Aussie retailer to fall, as consumer sentiment continues to decline thanks to coronavirus.

The company cited COVID-19 coupled with the summer's bushfires for its reason for going into voluntary administration - leaving 450 employees across 65 stores at risk of losing their jobs.

Founder of kikki.K, Kristina Karlsson, said she felt "profound" sadness over the closure of the business.

"It is with profound regret and sadness that we take this action,

"This business began with a young girl's dream 20 years ago and became and international success story with customers in over 150 countries," she said, reports 9News.

The luxury stationery company has been operating in Australia since 2001.

-With AAP

Feature image: Getty.

For a “different” way to look at the news, sign up for my weekly Deep Dive newsletter

00:00 / ???