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What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Wednesday April 22.

Ruby Princess president speaks.

Jan Swartz, the global head of Princess Cruises, hasn’t said a word since one of her ships arrived in Australia unchecked and went on to infect more than 900 people, killing 21.

Speaking for the first time to 9News, she says she will cooperate with the NSW Police investigation, and says the families whose loved ones died are “in our hearts and thoughts.”

Jan Swartz
Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia. Image: 9News.

"It's truly heart-breaking to watch how coronavirus has attacked the entire world and I look forward to the day where we can unite in defeating this common enemy," she said.

Ruby Princess crew have clapped and cheered from their balconies as the first of their workmates finally disembarked the troubled ship yesterday.

One performed an impromptu haka after finally reaching solid ground.

They've been on board for about a month now following the COVID-19 outbreak on board.

Arrangements are being made to send the 48 crew who have tested negative to the virus home.

NZ keen to reopen a border with Oz, but our airports are at risk.

Allowing Australians to resume travelling to and from New Zealand is a "strong possibility" if the rate of infections continue to slow.

Speaking to the ABC, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said while borders would stay closed “until we see a worldwide vaccine that is working,” an open border with Australia was possible.

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covid-19 lockdown
Jacinda Ardern's New Zealand is open to allowing cross-Tasman travel. Image: Getty.

"It’s almost as if we’ve got a trans-Tasman bubble between our two countries, and if the figures keep on going that way, then that is a serious possibility," he said.

“We are aware of their interest in that. It has not got much beyond that,” said our Prime Minister Scott Morrison. "We are not at present contemplating any border changes... we will work closely with New Zealand. We have all along."

Australian airports are at risk however, and could reportedly shutdown indefinitely as major ground operations company Swissport consider cutting 80 per cent of their staff and liquidating assets.

Virgin's collapse has had a knock-on impact on the company.

virgin australia news
On Tuesday, Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration. Image: Getty.
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Social distancing restrictions have had a "dramatic effect."

Australia's social distancing restrictions have had a “dramatic effect” on how COVID-19 cases will grow over the next 10 days, says one expert.

University of Melbourne associate professor Ben Phillips says the efforts by authorities to “flatten the curve” has put our country in “the enviable position of having negative growth rates”.

Quiet Melbourne Streets and Landmarks During Coronavirus Pandemic
Australia's social distancing rules have been successful so far. Image: Chris Putnam/Barcroft Media via Getty Images.

Steps taken by individuals and authorities including social distancing measures, increased testing and the closure of national borders have helped us successfully slow the spread of the virus.

“If things continue as they have been we will move to around 700 cases or less, from our current caseload of 2356," Professor Phillips told news.com.au.

“All of the difficult decisions that have been made, from those of individuals through to businesses and state and federal government, have had a dramatic effect. There is no doubt that we have, at this stage, averted a crisis, and we can be proud of that," he told the publication.

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Australia's death toll has risen to 72.

A third resident of a Sydney aged care home has died, bringing Australia's death toll to 72.

A 94-year-old and 93-year-old man had already died at the same home, after an employee infected with coronavirus came to work while symptomatic for six days.

The current COVID-19 figures.

According to NSW Health Minister Dr Kerry Chant, there are now 39 confirmed cases connected to the the aged care facility, including 13 staff members.

Over in Tasmania, where another cluster has formed at two hospitals in the state's north west, things are improving.

The state recorded just one new case yesterday bringing the total in Tasmania to 201, with 113 of those linked to the outbreak.

There's fear of a cluster forming in far north Queensland, with three lab staff infected at Cairns hospital.

Testing has now expanded in the area to rule out further community transmission.

Beaches reopening.

Bondi Beach and the rest of Sydney's eastern suburbs beaches are reopening on April 28 for exercise only.

"Surf n Go" and "Swim n Go" entrances and exits - to be managed by council rangers - are being set up after the local council voted in favour of them reopening 11 to one.

Some beaches in Sydney reopened at the start of the week, as did some previously closed Gold Coast beaches.

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Another sign of restrictions being eased is the restarting of elective surgery across Australia from April 27.

It includes IVF, dental work, screening programs, joint replacements, eye procedures, and colonoscopies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it's an important step on Australia's path to a post-virus world.

Schools will also start going back (initially one day a week) from May 11.

bondi beach signs
Bondi locals were quick to notice these signs last night. The area remains one of the country's biggest coronavirus hotspots. Image: Facebook.

Global cases pass 2.5 million.

2.5 million people have now had or currently have coronavirus around the world, with more than 170,000 dying from the virus.

It took 75 days for the first 500,000 cases to be reported, and just six days for the most recent half million to be recorded.

North America accounts for a third of all cases, with the US recording 800,000 cases. That figure has doubled in the last two weeks.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In America
Medical workers transport patients outside of a special coronavirus intake area in New York City. Hospitals in New York CityImage: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
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France has now recorded 21,000 deaths, with Italy reporting 24,000. There are plans for Italy to start easing their lockdown on May 4.

RBA warns of "biggest contraction" since the 1930s.

The Reserve Bank of Australia warns there will be “difficult days ahead” for our country over the coming months.

RBA governor Philip Lowe addressed the media on Tuesday to provide an update on how COVID-19 is expected to impact the economy.

“In terms of the immediate outlook, the next few months are going to be very difficult ones for the Australian economy,” he said.

“So the result of both the restrictions and this uncertainty is that over the first half of 2020, we are likely to experience the biggest contraction in national output and national income that we have witnessed since the 1930s.”

Dr Lowe said the RBA expects the national output to fall by around 10 per cent, which will mostly be felt in the June quarter.

That said, he explained, the economy would recover after the virus was contained.

- With AAP

Feature image: 

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

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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