news

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Wednesday March 25.

Police will issue fines to people who disobey self-distancing and self-quarantine measures.

NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller, has announced law enforcement will be able to issue on-the-spot fines for people who disobey self-distancing and self-quarantine measures.

Effective from midnight tonight, individuals who don’t self-distance or self-quarantine could be hit with a $1000 fine, and corporations that don’t comply could be issued $5000 fines.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recommended Australians keep a 1.5m distance from each other, and during all non-essential gatherings, people are required to stay four square metres apart.

People who don’t comply with the new restrictions could also be jailed for up to six months.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott said, “We need to kill this virus before it kills us.

“For that reason, the NSW Parliament introduced last night swift and certain penalties for people that don’t obey the law.”

WA’s Rottnest Island to be used to quarantine Australian cruise ship passengers.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan has confirmed Australians on board the Vasco da Gama cruise ship will be taken to Rottnest Island where they will spend 14 days in self-isolation.

Set to dock on Friday, it’s estimated the ship is carrying 950 passengers and 550 crew. 800 of those on board are Australians, with 200 of those from WA.

“All Australians, including the West Australians, will be immediately transferred to Rottnest Island for 14 days of self-isolation,” said McGowan to press on Wednesday.

“In the last two days we have cleared the island of visitors and made arrangements for accommodation, catering and security.

“We are exercising the Rottnest option now.”

ADVERTISEMENT

International passengers, however, will be kept on board the vessel. Out of the additional holiday-makers, the government estimates there are 109 passengers from New Zealanders and 33 from the UK.

“We are currently determining with the Commonwealth if some of the international passengers are in fact permanent residents of Australia,” he said.

Elective surgery cancelled and a new COVID-19 commission established.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government is working through everything “as quickly as possible” when it comes to decision making, urging the media and the public to be “patient”.

From today, midnight, until further notice, all elective surgery other than Category 1 and urgent will be suspended.

“Cancellation of elective surgery will allow the preservation of resources like personal protective equipment and allow health services to prepare for their role in the COVID-19 outbreak,” Morrison said.

“This will apply in both the public and the private hospital system,” he added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Morrison also announced there is a new commission – the COVID-19 Coordination Commission – which is designed to “better coordinate work between the private and public sector” as this crisis rolls on.

On the controversial issue of schools, the Prime Minister made the point to recognise “how important teachers are in dealing with this crisis”.

“When I think about teachers I am thinking about them in the same way I am thinking about nurses and paramedics and doctors. They are critical people in our community right now,” he told the press conference.

No word as of yet when rent reprieve will be announced for the tens of thousands of Australians who have lost jobs in recent days due to coronavirus.

Two children under 10 in NSW have contracted COVID-19.

On Wednesday morning, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said New South Wales had recorded its first cases in children under 10 on Tuesday.

“We have got two children that are under the age of 10 years have been confirmed on March 24,” Dr Chant said.

The number of cases in the state is now 1029, with 211 new infections. This is the largest number of new COVID-19 infections over a 24-hour period recorded in the state to date.

“A two-month-old boy who was tested following close contact with a confirmed adult case,” Dr Chant said.

“In a separate unrelated case we have a seven-year-old girl who was tested following close contact with a confirmed adult case.”

She said both children had minimal symptoms and were in isolation at home.

The military has been placed on standby.

Australia’s defence force has been placed on standby to be deployed to parts of Australia should they be required, 9News reported.

The preparations are similar to those that take place during natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and fires.

Military personnel could be utilised to ensure supply routes stay open, assisting deliveries and helping to avoid – and stop – civil unrest.

Scott Morrison’s late night press conference.

Last night, the Prime Minister held a 9pm press conference to update the nation on the decisions of a meeting with the National Cabinet.

You can read the full update here.

WATCH: You can watch some of it here. Post continues after video.

Video via Ten
ADVERTISEMENT

But the highlights are as follows:

– From midnight tonight the following are not allowed to continue: food courts (unless you’re getting takeaway), auctions and open house inspections, outdoor and indoor markets (excluding food markets), beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours (hairdressers and barbers can stay open), amusement parks and arcades, community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, swimming pools, and wellness centres (boot camps and personal training sessions are still allowed with a max of 10 people).

– Weddings can only go ahead if it’s just the couple, the celebrant, and the witnesses, and funerals can only have 10 people in attendance.

– In terms of leaving the house, the Prime Minister says: “Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out. Going out for the basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members, provided it’s a small group.”

– Barbecues, social gatherings, house parties – even at your own homes – are no longer allowed.

– Schools will remain open as “that advice hasn’t changed”.

– Rental relief is coming, but it’s a “complicated issue”. The Prime Minister says that this issue will continue to be discussed during Wednesday night’s National Cabinet.

– Australians are banned from leaving the country, with the only exceptions aid workers, government and commercial workers, and those seeking overseas travel on compassionate grounds.

Tokyo Olympics postponed until next year.

The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021, the first such delay in the Games’ 124-year modern history.

Though a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $US12 billion ($A20 billion) in the run-up, the decision was a relief to thousands of athletes fretting over how to train as the world headed into lockdown to fight a disease that has claimed more than 16,500 lives.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pressure had been building on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its president, Thomas Bach, with some athletes and sporting bodies angry that a seemingly inevitable decision had taken so long.

After a call between Bach and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, both parties said the July 24-August 9 Games would be moved to the summer of 2021, to be a celebration of triumph over the coronavirus.

The Olympic flame, already lit at Olympia in Greece and carried around Japan in a now-cancelled torch relay, would stay in the host nation until then as a symbol of hope.

“This Olympic flame will be the light at the end of this tunnel,” Bach said.

An “unprecedented challenge for mankind” had inevitably led to an unprecedented challenge for the Games, he added.

Cases on the rise in Australia, with 8 people dead.

With over 415,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide, and over 2,100 in Australia – the NSW Premier says her state is reaching a “critical state” with 149 new cases recorded on Tuesday.

That brings the New South Wales total to 818, including seven of Australia’s eight deaths.

The current COVID-19 figures.

The eighth death was confirmed yesterday, as a woman in her 70s from the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which was allowed to dock in Sydney last week and unload its untested passengers, who then travelled home around Australia.

Australian borders are starting to close. Police and the military have started patrolling the South Australian, West Australian and Northern Territory borders, while Queensland will be closed to all but essential travellers from midnight on Wednesday.

Thousands of Australians without work.

Massive queues returned to Centrelink offices around the country yesterday, while its online portal crashed for the second day in a row as thousands of suddenly unemployed Australians try to register for benefits.

Over 800,000 jobs could be lost by the end of June and the unemployment rate could reach 1.5 million as vast swathes of the Australian economy is shut down.

ADVERTISEMENT

About 123,000 logged on to the MyGov portal yesterday morning after major sections of the hospitality industry were shut down, airlines laid off thousands of staff, and over 10,000 retail workers were put out of work.

TUESDAY-FEATURE
The amount of Australians out of a job by June could surpass 800,000. Image: Getty.

Labor's government services spokesman Bill Shorten says people in the long queues forming outside offices should be triaged.

They should be given preliminary forms and directed to phone or online services if they can to ease the strain, Mr Shorten said.

At the same time, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert admitted the government hadn't planned for so many people logging on to get unemployment benefits.

Centrelink will boost its workforce by 5000 people to deal with the influx of applicants and extend call centre hours.

Aussie nurses to get free training.

Hundreds of nurses will be offered free online training to allow them to return to the front line in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

The federal government will spend up to $1 million to enable 1000 eligible registered nurses to undertake an online refresher course on acute nursing care, including guidelines on COVID-19 infection control.

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Nursing Officer Alison McMillan warned that coronavirus infections would only increase.

"Despite swift action by Australian governments, the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to grow," they said in a joint statement this morning.

"It is likely that unprecedented demand for health care will put pressure on our health system and health professionals, especially doctors and nurses whose work is vital to protecting and saving lives."

ADVERTISEMENT

The funding is part of a $2.4 billion government health package announced in response to the coronavirus.

Wuhan to lift lockdown in two weeks.

China has announced the lockdown on the coronavirus epicentre - the city of Wuhan - will be lifted on April 8.

That's despite one new case - a doctor at the Hubei General Hospital - testing positive to the virus, breaking a five-day streak with no cases.

The lockdown lift date comes more than two months since the city was first sealed off. At its worst, the city was getting thousands of new cases a day.

Italian cases now double China's.

Coronavirus fatalities in Italy have surged in the last 24 hours, dashing hopes the epidemic in the world's worst-hit country is easing.

The death toll rose by 743 yesterday, the second-highest daily tally since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on February 21, and up steeply from the 602 recorded on Monday.

Italy has seen more fatalities than any other country, with latest figures showing that 6820 people have died from the infection in barely a month.

The total number of confirmed cases hit 69,176 yesterday.

-With AAP

Feature image: Sam Mooy/Getty Images.

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.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It's okay to feel this way, but it's also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus - How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

Need a distraction? Take our short survey now.

MMSurvey
00:00 / ???