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Schools, sport and community testing: What we learnt from Prime Minister Scott Morrison's latest press conference.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s update on Australia’s response COVID-19.

In a lunchtime press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister has given an update on schools, confirming that medical expert advice was that the 4 sq metre rule and the 1.5m distancing between students during classroom activities is not appropriate and not required”.

“I can’t be more clear than that. The advice cannot be more clear than that,” he said.

Morrison also added that today the National Cabinet developed principles for sport and recreation, so that we have “consistency across the country, as we move into this next phase”.

But while sport has been split into three levels – elite, competitive community sport, and individual passive level recreation – the government has not yet announced a relaxation on rules.

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison has given a lunchtime update to the country. Image: Getty

Joined by the Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy at the press conference, Murphy said COVID-19 testing will be extended across Australia to ensure that any community transmission will be caught.

"National Cabinet is very clear that they want to be absolutely confident before relaxing any measures that we are in a position in this country to detect any community transmission of any significance," he said. 

Morrison also said the contact tracing app would be released shortly after some issues were ironed out.

"We will continue to see outbreaks. That is to be expected. What matters is being able to move on them quickly, to identify them, but also, as we've seen in a very difficult outbreak in north-west Tasmania, for the resources to come quickly for the further restrictions in those areas to be applied promptly, and so we can get on top of those outbreaks as quickly as we possibly can,"  Morrison told reporters.

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Reopened Sydney beaches warned they'll close again.

The reopened beaches in Sydney's east have been warned they'll be closed again, over coronavirus breaches.

The popular spot in Sydney's eastern suburbs has been popular today thanks to the warm, sunny weather.

"Starting today, numbers on all Randwick City beaches, including Clovelly, Coogee and Maroubra, will be closely monitored and closed if social distancing becomes difficult. These measures will continue throughout the Anzac Day weekend until Sunday evening," said the local council.

International travel will be the last restriction lifted.

Australians won't be able to leave the country for months with international border closures “absolutely’’ the last COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has shared the timeline he is working towards in advising the national cabinet about lifting coronavirus measures, which will meet again today.

"There is a great concern if we relax too much, too quickly, we could get a second wave as has been seen in Singapore," he said.

WATCH: A wrap of the headlines from the Today Show. Post continues after video.

Video via Nine
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"The national cabinet will look at some cautious measures to look at the first stage of relaxation [today]," he added.

Professor Murphy said continuing international travel restrictions would be the safest bet for minimising the spread of the virus, with the issue unlikely to be considered for three to four months.

"The international situation at the moment is such that any relaxation of border measures would be very risky."

International travel
International travel will be the very last restriction lifted. Image: Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images.

"We have just recommended to the national cabinet...that we continue the very restrictive bans on Australians essentially leaving the country unless there are exceptional circumstances. They are extraordinary measures but the international spread of this virus is huge," he said.

Professor Murphy also said some restrictions on the size of gatherings may be relaxed in the coming weeks.

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"We certainly would not be considering large gatherings. Certainly, some relaxation of the size of small groups is possible. Things like community sport. Some retail measures. But we have to weigh up the public health risk."

Ruby Princess leaves Australia.

The Ruby Princess has begun its departure from Port Kembla, south of Sydney, leaving 21 grieving families in its wake.

It is estimated that one in every 10 cases of coronavirus in Australia could be linked to the cruise ship.

Ruby Princess leaves
The Ruby Princess has left Australian waters. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.

On Thursday, more than 350 crew members arrived at Sydney Airport for their flight to the Philippines, after being allowed to disembark more than a month after arriving back in Australian waters.

NSW Police said the 11 crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 are currently in hotels for their 14 days of quarantine.

Tasmania has "toughest restrictions in the country."

Northwest Tasmania are currently living under the toughest restrictions in the country thanks to an outbreak of COVID-19 that's infected more than 70 healthcare workers.

The state government will make a decision today as to whether the measures in place there will continue beyond the weekend, with no new virus cases recorded in the state yesterday - for the first time since March 31.

It's believed the outbreak started with a Ruby Princess passenger. Both hospitals in Burnie are closed and undergoing a deep clean.

The current COVID-19 figures.

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Economy injections for WA and Victoria.

The Victorian government plans to borrow $24.5 billion to help the state combat the economic carnage of the virus, with emergency laws allowing the state to move forward with judge-alone criminal trials, virtual meetings for state and council politicians, and extensions on a ban on evictions and rent increases.

A 16th person died in Victoria yesterday, a man in his 60s. But only one new case was reported overnight.

WA has announced a $154.5 million package to support tenants, landlords and the construction industry.

Residential tenants who've lost their job are eligible for grants of up to $2000, and builders will be encouraged to keep on existing apprentices and trainees with financial support.

The state recorded its second straight day with no new cases yesterday.

Across the country, just 12 new cases were recorded overnight.

NSW now testing "anyone."

NSW plans to scale up testing, with even people with mild respiratory symptoms now eligible to get tested for the disease, reports The Daily Telegraph.

From today, anyone in NSW who has symptoms should come forward and get tested, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the paper.

Up to 8000 people will now be tested for COVID-19 each day under the new rules in a bid to better track community outbreaks.

A 79-year-old woman died at Anglicare's Newmarch House aged care early yesterday morning, bringing the state death toll to 34.

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Three elderly residents from the facility have already died from the virus.

Five new cases of COVID-19 were reported in NSW for the second consecutive day, taking the state's toll to 2976.

Grandfather selling penthouse to fund research.

An 82-year-old Queensland great-grandfather is selling his multi-million dollar beachside penthouse to fund national drug trials.

The four bedroom, three bathroom Maroochydore home - complete with a rooftop pool, sauna and media room - goes under the hammer on Friday to raise money for the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Coronavirus Action Fund.

Owner Keith Drake said when he saw RBWH researcher David Paterson interviewed about the trials on the news, he knew what "had to be done".

Keith and Glenda Drake
Keith and Glenda Drake in their Maroochydore penthouse, which they're auctioning off to raise funds for the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Coronavirus Action Fund. Image: AAP Image/Supplied by Place Media.

"It all happened in a rush, it didn't really take much deciding," he told AAP.

"I'm 83 in a few weeks, I think this is by far the most serious thing I can remember living through."

Even convincing his wife of 58 years, Glenda, was easy.

"She said, 'you know, why not? It sounds like a good idea to me, it's for a good cause. Let's do it.'"

It is hoped the apartment will bring in around $4 million, and the real estate agent has forfeited his commission on the sale to make sure each cent goes to the foundation.

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UK economy "worst its been in 100 years, at least."

The UK's economy is crumbling under the strain of the coronavirus lockdown and government borrowing is soaring to the highest levels in peacetime history.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, recuperating at his country residence after being seriously ill with COVID-19, is facing criticism from opposition politicians and some epidemiologists for reacting too slowly to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The UK will issue $A348 billion of government debt between May and July, more than it had previously planned for the entire financial year.

Bank of England interest-rate setter Jan Vlieghe said the damage was worse than anything Britain has experienced in the past hundred years at least.

A Reuters poll of economists on Thursday pointed to a roughly 13 per cent contraction in economic output in the current quarter, which would be the largest since records began after World War II.

Nearly 19,000 people have died in the country, with more than 130,000 infected.

Africa on its way to being new epicentre.

Africa has seen a 43 per cent jump in reported COVID-19 cases in the last week following a warning from the World Health Organisation that the continent of 1.3 billion could become the next epicentre of the pandemic.

Africa has a "very, very limited" and "very, very strained" testing capacity, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

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It means that the surge in infections on the continent is likely to be even higher in reality, he said.

Africa coronavirus
There has been an increase of cases in Africa. Image: Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

The WHO's recent report painted a grim picture for Africa. It warned the virus could kill more than 300,000 people and push 30 million into desperate poverty.

Africa still has time to avert such a disaster but testing people and tracing virus cases is critical, said Mr Nkengasong.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control has a target of conducting one million more tests in Africa over the next four weeks and 10 million tests in the next four months.

- With AAP

Feature image: Getty.

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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