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What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Saturday March 28.

Several major retail shops close their doors.

A slew of retail shops have announced their temporary closure in wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has forced thousands of Australian businesses across a range of industries to temporarily shut down.

On Saturday afternoon, The Australian announced iconic department store David Jones will be closing the doors of their small-format fashion stores — including Country Road, Mimco, Ralph Lauren and Witchery — across the nation, leaving at least 5000 staff members without a job. It’s understood their large-format David Jones will stay open for time being.

The announcement follows the temporary closure of the physical retail stores of Country Road, Mimco, Cotton On, Witchery, Seed and Supre.

Listen: Social security payments are now available to Australians affected by COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know.

Myer announced on Friday it would temporarily close all stores for at least four weeks from Sunday, and stand down 10,000 staff without pay.

The closure has sparked a call for the federal government to step in and deliver a rescue package for businesses struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, a retail union says.

The SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers, said the government had failed to step up.

Some 30,000 retail workers had already been stood down in the past week, the union said.

“Myer’s decision makes the situation even more serious and urgent – this is a brand that has not only been a major employer, but a symbol of Australian retail success, for more than a century,” SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said in a statement on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that details of the plan to effectively cocoon businesses will be announced in the next few days as part of a third stimulus package, which will also include commercial and residential rental assistance.

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Australia’s death toll rises to 14.

A 91-year-old woman has died from coronavirus in NSW, taking that state’s death toll to eight and the number of Australians who have died to 14.

NSW had 1617 confirmed cases as of Saturday, including 22 people in intensive care and 170 cases from community transmission. Another 212 cases have been confirmed in NSW since Thursday night.

A 91-year-old woman was living in Sydney’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge, where three other residents have died from COVID-19.

The Queen responds to Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

The Buckingham Palace has responded to Boris Johnson testing positive for coronavirus amid public concerns The Queen has been in contact with the UK Prime Minister this month.

“The Queen remains in good health. The Queen last saw (the Prime Minister) on the 11th March and is following all the appropriate advice with regards to her welfare,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Friday.

The 93-year-old monarch usually sees the Prime Minister once a week but has recently conducted the regular meeting by telephone.

Johnson, 55, announced his diagnosis on Friday in a video statement broadcast on Twitter, confirming: “I’ve taken a test. That has come out positive.

“I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s to say — a temperature and a persistent cough.

“So I am working from home. I’m self-isolating,” Johnson said. “Be in no doubt that I can continue, thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus.”

In the UK, 578 people have so far died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases has risen to nearly 12,000.

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Australian cases reaches 3000.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 3,000 across Australia, with that number continuing to rise. There have been 13 fatalities in Australia.

This time last week, on Saturday March 21, there were 1000 cases in Australia. Now, there are nearly 1617 cases in New South Wales alone.

In other states and territories, there are 574 cases in Victoria, 555 cases in Queensland, 257 cases in South Australia, 255 cases in Western Australia, 46 infections in Tasmania, 62 in the ACT and 12 in the Northern Territory.

Live tracker of the number of coronavirus cases worldwide.

Italy records highest one-day death toll.

Italy has added a record 969 people to its COVID-19 death toll as a top public health official said the country’s devastating coronavirus outbreak was nearing its peak.

A total of 9134 people have died from the disease in Italy alone, the Italian Civil Protection Agency said, by far the biggest number recorded by any country in the world.

“Our enemy is invisible, strong and unknown,” government health sector commissioner Domenico Arcuri said as he presented the daily statistics on Friday.

Despite the high death toll, experts see this as evidence that the contagion is slowing down.

“From March 19-20 (…) the curve seems – and I stress the word ‘seems’ – to be flattening,” National Health Institute President Silvio Brusaferro said before the release of Friday’s data.

“We have not reached the peak, we have not gone past it,” he added. “We have signs of a slowdown that lead us to presume that we are near this situation.”

Watch: Your most common questions about COVID-19, answered. 

Video by Mamamia

US coronavirus cases pass 100,000.

The United States has become the first country to exceed 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.  The death toll in the United States stands at 1500.

The US reached the grim milestone on Friday afternoon, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

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Globally, the count of people with the virus was nearing 600,000.

Side note… Here is a graph showing the curve of the coronavirus cases worldwide, including in Australia.

Contagion stars unite for health message.

The stars of the 2011 thriller film Contagion – which follows the spread of an unknown and potentially fatal illness across the world – have united to deliver public service announcements about the seriousness of COVID-19.

In partnership with the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, actors Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle broadcast four homemade videos.

“Wash your hands like your life depends on it,” Kate Winslet told fans. “Because right now, in particular, it just might.”

Matt Damon added: “[Contagion] was a movie. This is real life. I have no reason to believe that I’m immune to COVID-19. And neither do you.”

Read more:

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain at home as much as possible, 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.

– With AAP.


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Feature Image: Getty.

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