A $30 million public health campaign will soon be launched in Australia as NSW confirms more cases, Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Wuhan and Italy goes into lockdown.
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Tuesday’s key moments
- Xi Jinping makes first visit to Wuhan since outbreak
- More industries feel ripple effects from coronavirus outbreak
- Casual workers could be put on welfare if they lose their income due to quarantines
- Australia officially records 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus
- Three more coronavirus cases in Queensland
- Testing clinics open in SA, WA
- Nationwide lockdown announced in Italy
- Qantas to reduce capacity by almost a quarter
- Donald Trump has not been tested for coronavirus
- ASX falls, then rebounds, after Wall Street records worst day since GFC
- Another eight coronavirus infections confirmed in New South Wales
- Teacher at Melbourne school tests positive for coronavirus
- Australians advised against going on cruises
- Israel announces anyone arriving from overseas must quarantine
NSW confirms more cases of coronavirus
Six more people have tested positive for coronavirus in New South Wales, bringing the state total to 61 infections and the daily total of fresh positives there to 14.
Four of the six new cases have recently returned from countries including Italy, the US and Switzerland.
In addition to these infections, a previously confirmed case has been found to have attended St Leonards TAFE on two days while potentially infectious.
New South Wales Health has begun tracing the close contacts of this person.
Australia’s state-by-state breakdown
Here are the numbers of cases that have been recorded in each state and territory as of Tuesday evening:
- NSW: 61
- Queensland: 18
- Victoria: 18
- South Australia: 7
- Western Australia: 6
- Tasmania: 2
- Northern Territory: 1
- ACT: 0
Fifty-four more people in Iran are dead as a result of coronavirus, raising the death toll in the country to 291 from 8,042 confirmed cases — a mortality rate of 3.6 per cent.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour made the announcement in a televised news conference.
The new deaths represented an 18 per cent increase in deaths from the day prior.
New cases of infection rose by 881, increasing the total infection tally to 8,042.
Iran has been the hardest hit country in the Middle East and is the subject of a travel ban implemented by the Australian Government nearly a fortnight ago.
Worldwide, there are more than 114,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 4,000 deaths attributed to it.
The number of people who have recovered is about 64,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Federal Government plans advertising blitz
A $30 million public health campaign will soon be launched to better inform Australians about coronavirus.
The Federal Government is finalising the information package that will be aimed at the general public, health and aged care industries.
It will outline how to limit the spread of COVID-19 through hygiene measures, what to do if symptoms develop and where to seek help.
The campaign follows complaints from some medical professionals about a lack of detailed and consistent information around how to handle people presenting with symptoms.
There has also been a spread of misinformation on social media about the virus.
The ABC understands the campaign will include a mixture of TV, radio and print advertisements, as well as posters at bus stops.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has also flagged the development of a mobile phone app.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began.
China’s state media released photos of the President’s visit on Tuesday.
The disease’s spread in China has cast scrutiny on Mr Xi’s leadership, as he was absent from the public eye during the early days of the crisis.
Mr Xi’s visit came as authorities closed 14 of the 16 makeshift hospitals that had been opened in Wuhan’s public venues.
On Saturday, chief epidemiologist of China’s Centre for Disease and Control Zeng Guang said Wuhan was “coming out of its darkest moment”.
The city has had the bulk of the country’s more than 80,000 confirmed cases.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily in mainland China is also dwindling.
On Tuesday, the country recorded just 19 new cases over the previous 24 hours, its lowest total since it began reporting national figures on January 20.
China has registered 80,754 cases in total and 3,136 deaths.
State media said Mr Xi would inspect the epidemic prevention and control work and visit medical workers, community volunteers, patients and others on the front lines during his Wuhan visit.
The impacts of coronavirus have already hit Australia’s tourism and seafood industries hard, but the retail, restaurant and higher education sectors are also feeling the impacts.
Australian stationery chain kikki.K has been placed into voluntary administration after what the company termed as a “perfect storm” of soft consumer demand, bushfires and coronavirus.
“This unprecedented line-up of external factors, particularly in recent weeks, has really taken its toll,” chief executive Paul Lacy said.
WA’s Chamber of Commerce has also warned the entire hospitality industry should brace for a drop in business as the coronavirus outbreak continues.
The ABC understands Fremantle’s Little Creatures Brewing — one of Australia’s pioneering microbreweries — has had 300 people cancel across three functions due to restrictions on travel.
Meanwhile, the University of Tasmania has referenced coronavirus while revealing its decision to reduce its course offerings from 514 to about 120 next year.
In a letter to staff, the university said it was “not making enough progress to be the right size to be sustainable even in the short term”.
The letter added the combination of an “over-reliance on China” for students and coronavirus was a “very strong headwind”.
Placing casual workers who’ve been affected by the coronavirus on welfare is one of the options being canvassed by the Federal Government.
There have been mounting concerns that casual workers without entitlements will lose their income if they’re forced to stay home due to quarantines.
Employer groups and unions met with Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter.
Mr Porter says the Government is exploring a variety of options, including putting casual workers affected by coronavirus on Newstart, but that it was not at the point where that option needed to be activated.
“We are at a point where we’re trying to understand what might be the best scalable responses if those problems do arise,” he said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy have given an update on the coronavirus crisis.
At their press conference, they revealed Australia had reached 100 confirmed cases, more than half of which have been in New South Wales.
“New South Wales and Sydney is still the significantly biggest part of our outbreak in Australia, and clearly New South Wales Health is doing a huge amount of work to track and control the outbreak,” Professor Murphy said.
But Professor Murphy said Australians had been requesting COVID-19 tests even though they didn’t need them.
“At the moment, we are not recommending people with acute, cold, flu-like symptoms, unless they are a returned traveller, or unless they are a contact of a confirmed case, be tested,” he said.
Mr Hunt said medical experts were reviewing the status of Italian travel advisories, in light of the lockdown in that country.
Three more people have tested positive to coronavirus in Queensland, taking the state’s total to 18.
A 42-year-old woman whose partner had recently travelled from London through Dubai is being treated in the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
Meanwhile, a 46-year-old woman has been admitted to the Royal Brisbane and a 22-year-old man is in the Prince Charles Hospital.
Both those patients had recently been in Europe.
All three are in a stable condition.
Earlier, it was announced Queensland’s Education Department will ban all students and staff from travelling overseas on official school trips due to the ongoing coronavirus threat.
The directive was issued to all state schools this afternoon for all destinations except New Zealand.
The decision brings Queensland into line with other states, including NSW and Victoria.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says movement will be restricted across the whole of Italy to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s 60 million people will only be able to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies until April 3.
All public gatherings will be banned and sporting events will be suspended.
Mr Conte said the decision was made to defend the most fragile members of the community.
“There won’t be just a red zone,” Mr Conte told reporters, referring to the quarantine order he signed for a vast swath of northern Italy with a population of 16 million over the weekend.
Italy registered 1,807 more confirmed cases as of Monday evening (local time), for a national total of 9,172.
With the latest numbers, Italy again overtook South Korea as the country with the most cases outside China. The number of dead in Italy also increased by 97 to 463.
A drive-thru coronavirus testing clinic has been opened in South Australia, in what is believed to be a first for the country’s public health system.
SA Pathology says the service is another way for health professionals to collect samples for testing and should be able to receive a patient every 20 minutes once it’s fully operational.
Patients will need a referral from their GP before they can go through the drive-thru, which has been set up at the former Repatriation Hospital.
Drive-thru testing clinics have already been operating in South Korea, the US and the UK.
Meanwhile, the first of Western Australia’s specialist coronavirus clinics has opened in Perth.
More than 30 people queued up outside Royal Perth Hospital’s Ainslie House before the clinic even opened its doors this morning.
So far, there have been six confirmed cases of the virus in WA.
The State Government last week announced three clinics would open to cater for an expected demand in testing for COVID-19 for those who displayed symptoms and had recently returned from overseas.
Qantas says it will be reducing capacity by almost a quarter for the next six months, saying there has been a “sudden and significant drop” in demand for flights in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The changes include reducing the frequency of flights and the size of aircraft.
Eight of the airline’s A380s will be grounded as part of the changes, with only two remaining in service.
Qantas services to London will also be re-routed, flying via Perth instead of Singapore.
The cuts will be in place until September 2020, and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said while redundancies were a last resort, the changes meant about 2,000 jobs were now surplus to requirements.
He also said the senior leadership team would take a pay cut of 30 per cent, in order to “pull every lever that we can to make sure that the group gets through this environment”.
“This will be a survival of the fittest,” he said.
The White House says US President Donald Trump has not been tested for coronavirus after attending a conservative political conference where an attendee later tested positive.
Senator Ted Cruz and House Representatives Doug Collins, Matt Gaetz and Paul Gosar — as well as incoming White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — have all announced they will self-quarantine after attending the same Conservative Political Action Conference late last month and having contact with the infected person.
But White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Mr Trump had not been tested because he did not have “prolonged close contacts” with any patients and “does not have any symptoms”.
Earlier Mr Trump said his administration would ask Congress to pass payroll tax relief in response to the public health and economic turmoil.
He also said he was seeking help for hourly-wage workers to ensure they are “not going to miss a paycheque” and “don’t get penalised for something that’s not their fault”.
But the US President has also tried to pour cold water on the coronavirus crisis on Twitter:
@realDonaldTrump tweet: "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!"
Australia’s share market followed the rest of the world’s downward trend immediately after opening this morning, with the ASX200 down 3.9 per cent within the first 10 minutes of trade.
But it soon rebounded, and by 1:00pm AEDT, the ASX was up by 1.1 per cent.
It closed 3.1 per cent higher at 5,940, with the All Ordinaries index up 3 per cent to 5,996.
That rebound was welcome news for investors, given the Australian share market lost almost $140 billion yesterday, when the ASX200 index lost 7.3 per cent.
Coronavirus fears and a crash in oil prices have sent a shudder through global markets, with stocks plummeting so fast on Wall Street overnight they triggered the first automatic halt in trading in over two decades.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 7.8 per cent, its steepest drop since the financial crisis of 2008.
European stock indexes likewise registered their heaviest losses since the darkest days of the 2008 meltdown, and are now in a bear market.
The first game of the season is just two days away, with Parramatta hosting the Bulldogs on Thursday night.
NRL chief Todd Greenberg says a special team is in daily contact with health experts, and the latest advice is that there is no need to play in an empty stadium.
“I think that would be pretty sad for fans and players. I hope it doesn’t get to that,” he said.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan followed suit, revealing that if mass gatherings were suspended by the Victorian Government, it would also “play games in stadiums with no crowds”.
“Our advice at the moment is to push ahead as planned and round one will go ahead as planned with supporters,” he said.
The Socceroos’ World Cup qualifiers against Kuwait, Nepal, Chinese Taipei and Jordan, scheduled for March and June, have all been postponed.
Italy’s top tier soccer league, Serie A, has already started playing its games in front of empty stadiums, while the same is being considered for England’s Premier League.
The principal of Melbourne’s Carey Baptist Grammar School says a teacher tested positive for the coronavirus overnight, becoming Victoria’s 16th case of COVID-19.
Classes have been cancelled and the school is now mapping the teacher’s contacts to identify those at risk.
A Health Department spokesperson confirmed the teacher’s partner had been on the same flight from the US as Toorak GP Chris Higgins, who tested positive on Friday.
Carey Grammar has 2,500 students, including 900 in the senior school.
It is the first school in Victoria to close its doors because of the outbreak.
The Department of Foreign Affairs says Australians planning to take cruise ship holidays should think again.
“We advise you to reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time, particularly if you have underlying health concerns,” the department said in an update published on the Smart Traveller advisory website.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne urged Australians to follow the new directives.
“Disruptions due to quarantine and denials of entry to ports can have significant effects on travellers,” she said.
@MarisePayne: Due to #COVID19, @dfat now advises Australians, particularly those with underlying health concerns, to reconsider taking an overseas cruise at this time. Disruptions due to quarantine & denials of entry to ports can have significant effects on travellers.
Travel advice levels have been raised for six countries.
Australians are advised not to travel to China or Iran, to “reconsider” their need to travel to South Korea and Italy, and to “exercise a high degree of caution” for travel to Japan and Mongolia.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced anyone arriving from overseas will need to isolate themselves for 14 days.
“This is a difficult decision. But it is essential for safeguarding public health, and public health comes first,” he said.
Government officials said the order would come into force immediately for Israelis returning to the country.
From Thursday, any non-Israelis seeking to enter the country will have to prove they have the means to self-quarantine.
Israeli media said the latest measure would mean quarantine for some 300,000 citizens in a country of around 9 million.
Israel currently has 42 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the country’s Health Ministry.
Ireland has cancelled all St Patrick’s Day parades over fears they could help to spread coronavirus.
The country has so far reported 21 cases, including the first community transmission of the virus last week.
The flagship March 17 gathering in Dublin, that draws some 500,000 revellers from around the world each year, kicks off the capital’s tourism season.
Parades are also traditionally held in towns and villages throughout the country.
“It’s possible that we are facing events that are unprecedented in modern times,” Acting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.