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‘This is a no-brainer’: Sarah is a qualified nurse, but she’s not allowed to help the COVID-19 fight

Perth 6000

Sarah Parekh completed her nursing degree in Perth, is registered and wants to join the frontline fight against the coronavirus outbreak, treating patients in a public hospital.

Key points:

  • The nurses’ union is calling for visa restrictions to be eased
  • Australia is allowing 20,000 nursing students to work in the health system
  • WA Health minister Roger Cook said he would appeal to lift the visa rules

But she is not allowed to because she is from Germany and not a permanent resident or citizen.

“I’m a registered nurse, I’m registered with our AHPRA [the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency],” she said.

“I’m a fully qualified nurse, so yeah I’ve got all the skills that a nurse needs to help out at the moment.

“I definitely would like to support Western Australia in this big coronavirus crisis.”

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

Restrictions lifted on nursing students

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced restrictions were being lifted on some 20,000 international nursing students working in the health system.

It means they can work more than 40 hours per fortnight, doing simple tasks and freeing up experienced nurses.

WA COVID-19 snapshot

  • Confirmed cases so far: 278
  • Deaths: 2
  • Tested negative: 12,693

Latest information from the WA Health Department

“They’re going to be available to support the health effort right across the country, as directed by our health officials,” the Prime Minister explained at a media conference on March 18.

But when Ms Parekh tried to apply for a job with WA Health, there was a check box requiring candidates to be permanent residents or citizens.

“Why is Australia letting their 20,000 international nursing students work full time, but don’t make it possible for their already qualified and graduated international nurses to help?” she asked.

“If there are 20,000 international student nurses, there must be an equivalent of 20,000 international graduates with full qualification here as well.”

‘This is a no-brainer’

She called for the criteria to be eased and in a letter to WA Premier Mark McGowan requested nurses be added to the graduate state sponsorship list, under which the WA Government can nominate them for a skills visa.

“May I please ask you to review the graduate state sponsorship list, so that registered graduate nurses like me, who have been a part of this community for years and would like to support and strengthen this state with our skills, can join the WA health workforce now that we are so strongly needed,” she wrote.

Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Mark Olsen said international graduates like Ms Parekh would be a “wonderful asset” at the moment and there was no question they should be allowed to work.


Mark Olsen says it is clear that qualified health workers should be allowed to work. (ABC News: Glyn Jones)

“This is a no-brainer,” he said.

“If we’ve got those who have done their education in nursing education in this country, they’ve recently qualified, then the Government should be putting the call out and saying, ‘Listen, call our office and we’ll arrange to make sure that you find you’re able to work as a part-time or full-time employee’.”

Health Minister says it’s ‘all hands on deck’

Nurses were recently taken off the state sponsorship list because local graduates were struggling to find work.

But Mr Olsen said that was not the case anymore.

WA’s travel restrictions explained
West Australians are told to cancel holiday plans and stay home to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. So you can wave goodbye to that Easter break down south.

“We have to be able to respond if we’re going to meet the challenges of this crisis, we’ve got to be flexible,” he said.

Health Minister Roger Cook said it was “all hands on deck” when it came to fighting COVID-19.

“We’ll take anyone that’s got the qualifications and is ready to give it a go,” Mr Cook said.

“If there are nurses or doctors that don’t fit exactly inside the [visa] arrangements, we’ll certainly be making representations to the Commonwealth to make sure we can help them join our forces.”

The Prime Minister’s office and the Home Affairs Department have been contacted for comment.

Video: Q+A: Coronavirus testing criteria slammed

(ABC News)

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Parliament passes most significant stimulus ‘since the war’, then closes for five months


The Federal Parliament has rushed through $84 billion in financial support for workers, students and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, before wrapping up for a five-month-long break.

Key points:

  • The bills were passed late on Monday night without objection in the House
  • The first direct payments won’t be made until April 27
  • Parliament won’t resume until August, while the Finance Minister has been given extra powers

A bare minimum of MPs and Senators came to Canberra for a single day to vote on legislation for the Government’s two rounds of stimulus measures.

The bills were passed late Monday night without objection in both the House of Representatives and the Senate after some amendments were made.

“The measures that have been passed by the Parliament today represent the most significant support for the Australian economy and community since the war,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

“There is much to do for this country in the weeks and months ahead, but working together, we can support the Australian community at their moment of need.”

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said the Parliament’s co-operation “has been a good example today of the Parliament at its best, working at a time when the nation is facing some of its worst”.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

236,000 students to benefit, Government says


The coronavirus economic downturn has fuelled more Centrelink claims. (ABC News: Chris Taylor)

The legislation supports both the first coronavirus economic stimulus package, worth $17.6 billion, and the $66 billion in direct financial support announced in the second package on the weekend.

It also includes a raft of other measures to support the economy more broadly, as well as giving the Government flexibility to respond to changing circumstances without needing further legislation.

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@JoshFrydenberg tweet: Tonight the Govt’s Coronavirus support package passed the Parliament. This is the most significant set of measures to support the Aust economy since wartime. This is a Team Aust moment

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Under pressure from Labor and the Greens, the Coalition amended its own legislation to give the social services minister the power to make changes to the stimulus payments, including rates, means testing, eligibility and residency requirements.

The Government will immediately use those powers to extend the $550 coronavirus supplement to students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy payments.

Other than the income test, “there are really very few other requirements” students will have to meet to get support, said Social Services Minister Anne Ruston.

The Government estimates up to 236,000 students could benefit from the change.

Labor demanded an end date to the extra powers for the social services minister be included in the legislation.

“I think giving broad powers like this would, in any normal situation, never be provided to the executive,” said Labor’s finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher.

“But this is a very unusual world that we are living in now and we acknowledge that the Government will have to respond, and will have to respond at different times and in different ways, over the next few months.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

First direct payments won’t happen until April 27


Coronavirus prevention measures has sent many small businesses into economic freefall. (ABC News: Nicole Asher)

Labor had wanted stimulus payments to reach workers earlier, given the first direct payments won’t reach wallets until April 27.

“There is a lack of urgency in this support,” Labor’s Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said.

“We are concerned that payments to households, including pensioners, will arrive too late. And we are deeply concerned that cashflow assistance to businesses will arrive too late.”

“For sole traders and the self-employed, this support is just not enough.”

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@KKeneally tweet: Tonight the @AuSenate debates, and passes, vital stimulus measures. It’s called a stimulus package but it’s for the survival of Australia

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Labor also raised concerns about letting people access their superannuation early, but passed the bills nonetheless.

“Now is not the time to stand in the way of this package of measures because Australians need support now,” said Senator Keneally.

The Greens failed to win support for a series of amendments, but ultimately backed the bills, too.

They wanted financial support to be extended to people on temporary visas and those receiving disability support and carers’ payments.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Parliament won’t resume until August 11


The Finance Minster has been given unprecedented powers to spend without parliamentary approval. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Parliament is now not due to sit again until August 11, with the May budget postponed and other parliamentary sitting days cancelled.

Parliament has approved an ‘advance’ of $40 billion for the finance minister to spend on unforeseen events from July 1 without needing parliamentary approval.

By comparison, the ‘advance’ for the current financial year was $1.2 billion.

The Government will have to publicly announce every use of the funds and consult the Opposition when spending more than $1 billion.

Labor’s Senator Gallagher said the extraordinary increase in the ‘advance’ represented the “unprecedented times” the nation was facing.

This story is no longer being updated. For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow this story.

Video: Q+A: Coronavirus testing criteria slammed

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Lockdowns as Africa starts to tackle ‘one of the biggest health challenges in a generation’

Congo, The Democratic Republic Of The

Countries across Africa have begun to initiate lockdowns as cases of COVID-19 rise above 1,000, with Nigeria announcing it is closing airports to all incoming international flights for a month in the continent’s most populous country.

Key points:

  • Nigeria recorded the first case in sub-Saharan Africa only three weeks ago
  • South Africa has cancelled visas for 10,000 Chinese and Iranian citizens
  • Virunga National Park has closed to protect its mountain gorilla population

Experts are concerned the continent will not be able to handle a surge in cases without the depth of medical facilities available in more developed economies.

“This is one of the biggest health challenges Africa has faced in a generation,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Africa, said.

“Adopting approaches which are adaptable to the African context is key to containing the spread,” she said.

Africa now has more than 1,100 cases of the coronavirus, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Many African countries have already shut their borders, closed schools and universities and barred large public gatherings.


Africa’s fragile healthcare systems face grave challenges with COVID-19. (Reuters: Feisal Omar)

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

South Africa bars foreigners

Nigeria announced the first coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa just three weeks ago.

Authorities said the country’s first patient, a man who had travelled from Italy, was now fit to go home.

It has banned all religious activities for at least a month.

Nigeria’s international flight ban came a day after Africa’s busiest airport, in Johannesburg, blocked foreigners from disembarking and two major airlines — Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways — announced sweeping cancellations of international flights.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

In South Africa, which has the most cases in sub-Saharan Africa, more citizens have taken to wearing masks and gloves in public.

The number of confirmed cases in the country rose by 38 to 240 on Saturday.

The South African Government announced this week it would revoke nearly 10,000 visas issued this year to people from China and Iran, and visas would now be required for other high-risk countries that had been visa-free, including Italy and the United States.


There is major concern over what will happen when coronavirus takes hold in Africa. (AP: Themba Hadebe)

Burkina Faso now has the most virus deaths of any country in sub-Saharan Africa, along with the most total cases in West Africa at 64.

It is one of Africa’s most fragile states with a growing humanitarian crisis caused by attacks linked to Islamic extremists.

More than 130 health centres have closed, Burkina Faso’s Government and aid groups say.

Jerry-Jonas Mbasha, cluster coordinator for WHO in Burkina Faso, said he was “much worried about what might happen in the next one week, two weeks from now.”

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Efforts to protect gorillas

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to about a third of the world’s mountain gorillas, has shut its gates due to the crisis.

“The park’s temporary closure of mountain gorilla tourism is being undertaken as a precautionary measure and it’s in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to restrict movement and limit social contact,” it said in a statement.


A park ranger walks past a mountain gorilla in the Virunga National Park in eastern Congo. (AP: Jerome Delay)

“It has been taken following advice from scientific experts indicating that primates, including mountain gorillas, are likely susceptible to complications arising from the COVID-19 virus.”

More than 275,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally, including over 11,000 deaths, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.

At least 88,000 people have recovered.


Video: Q+A: Coronavirus testing criteria slammed

(ABC News)

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‘We’ve got to throw everything we’ve got at it’: Coronavirus vaccine to be fast-tracked in Queensland

Brisbane 4000

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a $17 million package to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine developed in the state.

Key points:

  • The number of Queensland COVID-19 cases has risen to 259 after 38 more people tested positive
  • The state government has announced $17 million in funding to fast-track the development of a vaccine
  • The money is expected to cut the time a vaccine would be available for use by about six months

She said the funding would support the University of Queensland (UQ) as the only Australian organisation and one of six worldwide to be tasked to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

It included:

  • $10 million from the Queensland Government
  • $3 million from the Federal Government
  • $3.5 million from the Paul Ramsay Foundation

“This is now becoming a serious issue here in Queensland and a serious issue here in Australia and we’ve gotta throw everything we’ve got at it, so $10 million today is a great step forward out of a $17 million package,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Queensland is a world leader when it comes to research and the progress that is being made here is very encouraging.”

The money would allow researchers to bring a large-scale manufacture of the coronavirus vaccine forward to run parallel with clinical trials.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

Professor Paul Young, head of UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, described the work as a “radical approach”.

“We are living through remarkable times and remarkable times sometimes need radical ideas, and that is what the funding announced today is about.”


Annastacia Palaszczuk warned the media to practise social distancing at Sunday’s press conference on coronavirus. (ABC News)

“The typical timeline for vaccine development has been thrown out the window, with many referring to the possibility of a vaccine in 18 months.

“A vaccine is required even sooner than this.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

“We’re not cutting any corners in ensuring this vaccine is going to be safe and efficacious in humans, we will go through those clinical studies, but we should be ready to deploy as soon as that is done.”

“With this approach we should carve about six months off our timeline.”

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Queensland Innovation Minister Kate Jones said if successful, there could be a coronavirus vaccine available for emergency use among healthcare workers and vulnerable populations in early 2021.

Biotechnology researcher Professor Trent Munro is a team leader on the vaccine project and welcomed the funding.

“We have to be careful in saying there are no guarantees of success. This is going to be technically very, very challenging but this funding lets us push forward in a way that we wouldn’t have dreamed possible just a few weeks ago.”

‘Stay in your village’

The funding announcement came as 38 more people tested positive to coronavirus in the state, bringing the total number of Queensland’s COVID-19 cases to 259.

“We want to contain this virus as long as we can so we can develop a vaccine and ultimately save lives,” Health Minister Steven Miles said.

He said the cases were concentrated in south-east Queensland among those returning from overseas where coronavirus had already spread.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

The Premier is urging people not to travel outside their immediate community except for work.

“In the coming weeks and months, I need everyone to stay near your village,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“That means you can support things in your local village, you can shop in your local neighbourhoods, but as much as possible you need to restrict your non-essential travel and stick close to home.

“That’s what we do during cyclones, that’s what we do during floods.

“We all pitch in and help together.”

Library queues in last-minute borrowing rush

Keen readers at Indooroopilly were met with long queues and a 40-minute wait to get into the library.

“I was a bit surprised, I wasn’t expecting to see so many people here,” one woman told the ABC.

“You never see a line at a library.”


One borrower described the queues as “panic-borrowing”. (ABC News: Jess Rendall)

On Saturday, the Brisbane City Council announced it would be closing all 33 of its libraries to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“It’s closed until the end of June, that’s a long time to not be able to come to the library.”

Some locals are making the comparison to panic-buying, which saw Australia’s supermarkets stripped bare of toilet paper and other necessities.

“I think it’s better for books… at least people are looking for knowledge, I’m happy with that.”

“Everyone just wants to read, to do something if Australia goes into lockdown.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

Video: Q+A: Coronavirus testing criteria slammed

(ABC News)

External Link:

Ask us your coronavirus questions

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

‘The problem is just over the horizon’: Rise in NSW coronavirus infections, state’s total passes 400

Sydney 2000

Health authorities in NSW have confirmed 83 new coronavirus infections in the 24 hours to 8:00pm on Friday.

Key points:

  • NSW Health has banned travel to Lord Howe Island
  • Four cruise ships have experienced cases of COVID-19 in relation to travel out of Sydney
  • A religious service attended by 300 people on March 8 in Ryde has resulted in seven cases

The new cases take the state’s total number of COVID-19 infections to 436 and represent NSW’s largest increase over a 24-hour period.

A total of 46,456 people have been tested and cleared in NSW.

Out of the 436 cases, 218 were picked up overseas, 92 have been cases caught from a contact and 74 have been diagnosed as locally acquired, but with an unidentified contact.

The remainder are being investigated.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

NSW Health has also declared a ban on travel to Lord Howe Island from 5:00am on Sunday in a bid to restrict the spread of the virus.

The ban means access to Lord Howe Island is restricted to residents, health workers and other essential service workers.

Any new arrivals within permitted categories will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard encouraged people to heed advice on social distancing, amid the rising number of infections.

“The problem is just over the horizon on the basis of the numbers that we’re now seeing,” he said.

“Particularly here in New South Wales, they are showing a substantial increase.

“We will all remember the numbers in the last few days, they’ve effectively doubled just in the last week.

“Save yourself and save your family. Listen to the messages that are coming out, not just from Government officials but from doctors.”

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Elsewhere, seven people have been confirmed as COVID-19 cases after attending a church service with a congregation of more than 300 people.

The Sydney Church of Christ service took place at Ryde Civic Centre on March 8.

Close contacts of cases have been put into self-isolation and NSW Health is warning attendees of the service to be alert for symptoms.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Yesterday, Mr Hazzard revealed several people on board the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which docked in Sydney earlier in the week, had tested positive to coronavirus.

He warned the 2,700 passengers that disembarked they could have been exposed to COVID-19, and urged them to self-isolate for 14 days.

Today, NSW Health named three other cruise ships which have had confirmed COVID-19 cases onboard.

A 67-year-old passenger has been diagnosed after travelling on the Ovation of the Seas out of Sydney.

The ship is now at sea with only crew on board.

A woman in her 20s has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after travelling on the Voyager of the Seas, which returned to Sydney from New Zealand on March 7.

On a later trip on the Voyager of the Seas, a 66-year-old man was confirmed as having COVID-19.

The other case involves a passenger on the Celebrity Solstice, who travelled on the cruise ship before it docked in Sydney on March 20.

The Ruby Princess remains at sea between Sydney and Wollongong after recording four confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Video: What is it like to actually have coronavirus?


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Canberra records new cases of COVID-19 as prison visits suspended

Canberra 2600

The ACT Health Minister has praised the actions of three Canberrans newly diagnosed with COVID-19, saying each of them followed guidelines to minimise their transmission to others.

Key points:

  • All three new cases had recently travelled overseas
  • Canberra’s jail will suspend visits to inmates to slow the virus’s spread
  • There are now nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in the ACT

But a search is still underway for people who may have come into contact with the infected people, including on Canberra-bound flights.

The cases, a man in his 70s and two women in their 50s and 60s, all recently returned from overseas travel and went into self-imposed isolation.

The announcement of three new positive results is the largest jump in COVID-19 cases in Canberra so far, bringing the total to nine.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

ACT Health is now working on reaching the close contacts of the three, including passengers on flights used by two of the new cases while they may have been infectious.

The third case was not believed to have been infectious while she was travelling.

Authorities are looking to contact people sitting on rows 79 to 83 on flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney, which arrived on Tuesday March 17, and rows 12 to 16 on flight VA672 from Sydney to Canberra, landing at 9:30pm on the same day

They are also looking into whether passengers on flight QR906 from Doha to Canberra on Monday March 16 could have been exposed to the virus, though were yet to determine the infectious person’s seat number on the flight.

The two women remain at home in isolation, while the man has been admitted to hospital.

Prison visits halted to stop virus spread

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said all three new cases had “done the right thing” by self-isolating to limit their contact with other people.

“It’s an important reminder to those people who may have returned from overseas and are wondering whether they really do need to self-quarantine — yes you do,” she said.

The ACT Government has also cancelled visits to Canberra’s jail from Monday, in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading inside.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

ACT Corrective Services Commissioner Jon Peach said one prisoner at the Alexander Maconochie Centre had been tested for coronavirus after exhibiting flu-like symptoms, but they had returned a negative result.

“We have to make sure that people put into the centre are protected … from the potential spread and we have to limit the number of people actually entering the jail,” Mr Peach said.

“We have a number of prisoners that are obviously concerned about the virus, we’ve also got a number of prisoners that really, really want to see their families.

“We are working very very hard to ensure that there are opportunities for detainees to maintain those family ties, which would [include] increased access to telephones.”

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

In the ACT, more than 2,200 people have been tested for COVID-19.

Yesterday, the ACT Government released details of a stimulus package aimed at helping the territory to weather the economic storm the coronavirus outbreak has brought.

It includes a $150 rebate on bills for every household, credit for businesses and cash payments to public housing tenants.

Farmers markets allowed to go ahead amid social distancing

While several events in Canberra have been postponed or cancelled in the wake of the pandemic, farmers markets were allowed to go ahead over the weekend, as they are classified as an essential service.

Sarah Power, the manager at the Capital Region Farmers’ Market, said staff had worked hard to accommodate for social distancing requirements.


Shoppers were encouraged to keep their distance at the markets. (ABC News: Holly Tregenza)

“We’ve taken out all tables and chairs, removed them entirely, so that we are encouraging social distancing,” she said.

“We’ve also spread the majority of our stalls out as much as we can so that allows people to distance themselves.”

Food sampling has also been scrapped, but Ms Power said there had been no need to institute purchase limits on goods, as major supermarkets had done in response to panic buying.

“We are certainly up in terms of a lot of people but it’s calm, it’s orderly, people are forming lines and every one is really just happy to be here,” she said.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Video: Dr Norman Swan answers some of your questions about the coronavirus outbreak


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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

How businesses like Qantas can stand down permanent employees and not pay them


Qantas and Jetstar’s decision to temporarily stand down two-thirds of their employees has once again sparked questions over how workplaces can respond to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Qantas has said it needs to stand down most of its 30,000 employees from late March until at least the end of May in order to preserve as many jobs as possible.

The decision, according to workplace relations law professor Anthony Forsyth from RMIT, could soon be taken by other businesses.

So we asked him what it could mean for casual, part-time and permanent employees.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

Can you be stood down by your employer?


Professor Forsyth says other businesses may also follow Qantas’s decision to stand down. (105.7 ABC Darwin: Emilia Terzon)

Yes. Usually, if you’re a full-time or part-time employee asked by your employer not to work, you would be entitled to be paid.

But under the Fair Work Act, any employee (whether full-time, part-time or casual) can be stood down without pay if they can’t do useful work because of an “equipment breakdown, industrial action or a stoppage of work for which the employer can’t reasonably be held responsible”.

And it can be for an indefinite period of time, according to Professor Forsyth, but only if the situation which has caused the stand-downs – in this case, potentially, the coronavirus pandemic – is still ongoing

How does it work?

Professor Forsyth says the Fair Work Act includes provisions on how stand-down arrangements work, but they don’t deal with every situation.

Employees can be directed, for a period of time, to not attend work while business is affected, causing a necessary stoppage of work, and that’s without pay,” he told the ABC.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

While those rules apply under the Fair Work Act, you should also check your enterprise agreement (if you have one) as it might have further rules limiting employer stand-down powers.

Most larger business will have agreements in place, in which case Professor Forsyth says there may be provisions that state your employer “will need to consult with staff or unions before standing you down”.

“Or in some cases your agreement might stipulate that you should be paid for some or all of the time you are stood down,” he said.

“In the case of Qantas, they have about 50 enterprise agreements in place for their relevant divisions, but of the two I quickly read I couldn’t see any stand-down provision in place.”

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Professor Forsyth says that in that case, the Fair Work Act rules apply.

Qantas has said employees will be able to use annual and long service leave, but has conceded that periods of leave without pay are inevitable.

Employees have been told in an email that they can seek alternative employment and still keep their jobs, and can also access unemployment benefits.

It’s unclear if this will be the case for other employees who may be stood down by other organisations.

But Fair Work says it is possible for an employee to take paid or unpaid leave (for example, annual leave) during all or part of a period in which they would otherwise be stood down.

Could other employers soon follow suit?


Employers might be considering other ways they can continue operating during the coronavirus pandemic. (Pixabay: rawpixel)

Dr Forsyth says it’s likely Qantas is “only the beginning”.

“There’s definitely a massive concern this is just the start. Already we’ve seen many businesses impacted, just one business not being able to operate as normal can have a ripple effect on others,” he said.

“So other business will be looking at similar measures.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

What other measures could be considered?

If your employer wants to continue operating, they may also consider making positions redundant in response to a business downturn due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Fair Work website, an employer must meet a series of requirements before they can terminate someone, such as providing notice, and they will likely also have to provide redundancy pay.

“The advantage of a stand-down compared to redundancies is that employers have the option of being able to return to normal pretty quickly if the conditions that shut them down begin to change,” Professor Forsyth said.

“In the event of redundancies, they will have to look at whether they can redeploy staff, engage in consultations and provide redundancy pay, which can range from four weeks to 16 weeks under the Fair Work Act.”

The Fair Work website also says that under the relevant Act, an employee is protected from being dismissed because of a temporary absence due to illness or injury, for example having coronavirus.

“The Fair Work Act also includes protections against being dismissed because of discrimination, a reason that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable or another protected right,” the Fair Work website says.

“These protections continue to operate in relation to employees impacted by coronavirus.”

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

Video: Dr Norman Swan answers some of your questions about the coronavirus outbreak


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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

In pictures: Sydney becomes ghost town amid coronavirus downturn

Sydney 2000

Sydney’s CBD has fallen silent as Australia’s increasing social-distancing measures and fears about coronavirus spark a mass exodus in business hubs and tourist hotspots.

With more than 200 cases of COVID-19 in NSW and an exponential increase expected, many workplaces have told staff to stay home to help curb the spread of the virus.

Martin Place, Barangaroo and Circular Quay have become ghost towns punctuated with empty restaurants and deserted shops, and there’s never been more room on the roads or train platforms.


A smattering of people on the escalators to Wynyard Station at around 5.30pm on Tuesday. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


Empty tables at a restaurant in Campbells Cove in Sydney. (AAP: James Gourley)


The host at this Barangaroo restaurant waits with stacks of menus. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

And while deserted streets make for a much calmer city to get around, it has left many small business owners anxious about what is to come.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

In the financial hub of Martin Place, peak hour normally means thousands of people striding to and from the train station.

But that stampede was gone this week,


There was no evening rush at Martin Place yesterday. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


Sydney’s financial district is largely abandoned. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

Lin Gia runs a news stand in the famous pedestrian mall and normally has a constant flow of corporate types.

“I can’t close as a I need to pay my rent but even if I can pay that, I may have no money left for me,” she said.

“If only I worked in an office where I could still be paid while working from home.”

She said the only thing keeping her business afloat now were lotto ticket sales.


Lin Gia waits for her next customer. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


This empty street in Barangaroo tells the story. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)


There were no lines for the ferry at Barangaroo. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

Libby Rose, who works at a fruit stall near Wynyard station, said the business had taken a massive hit.

“We are seeing about a third of the normal foot traffic … I made around $10 between 4pm and 5pm which is normally our busiest time,” she said.

“We may only open three days a week if this keeps up.”


Libby Rose is concerned her shifts could be cut. (ABC News: Paige Cockburn)

Ms Rose works on a casual basis and said it was nerve-wracking watching people cart their office supplies home.

With social-distancing measures, travel bans and infections all expected to increase, she doesn’t think the workers will be back any time soon.


A woman sits alone on steps in Campbells Cove in Sydney. (AAP: James Gourley)

Video: Dr Norman Swan explains coronavirus terminology

(ABC News)

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‘Mince is like gold’ as panicked city shoppers descend on regional supermarkets


No flour. No rice. No milk. No meat.

Dora Kordos saw it happening in Melbourne but never thought the spread of panic buying would reach her.

She even laughed when supermarkets in the big smoke were forced to put limits on food, tissues, and toilet paper because of people hoarding stock.

But once Melbourne’s shelves were bare, city-dwellers turned their focus on regional Victoria, including her own town of Kinglake.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

ABC Radio Melbourne was inundated with calls on Tuesday from people in Kyneton, Woodend, Ararat, Leongatha, Daylesford and Castlemaine, who were outraged that people from the city had travelled hours to clear out supermarkets in their region.


FoodWorks at Kinglake has been inundated with people from out of town for days. (Supplied: Dora Kordos)

Ms Kordos’s family owns a FoodWorks supermarket, north-east of Melbourne, and she said the out-of-towners began arriving on Friday.

“We’ve seen people from Essendon. People we’ve never seen before. Somebody shared on the Eltham Facebook page that we were fully stocked and we’ve been inundated from all over the state,” she said.

“It started on Friday but it ramped up this week. Monday’s takings were three times what a normal Monday would do.”

At the start of the week, 10 boxes of chicken sold out in two hours.


FoodWorks owner Dora Kordos limited customers to two packs of meat each but it was not enough to stop it almost completely selling out. (Supplied: Dora Kordos)

She has ordered 30 more boxes of meat for Wednesday but has been told she will be lucky to get five because suppliers are so stretched.

“It’s been decimated. I haven’t eaten today. Just coffee.”

There is no flour left, no rice, no potatoes, no bread. A small amount of pasta sits on the shelves because she limited customers to two packets each. Eggs are beginning to sell out. The milk has gone, the mince is “like gold”.

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Kinglake Community Foodworks is at Kinglake Community Foodworks: We ask our customers to show compassion, support and respect to our staff members and others during these tough times. We are working hard to ensure we have stock on our shelves however our deliveries have been cut back. We cannot control if a particularly product is unavailable due to the current conditions and we are doing our best to ensure we have supplies for you all. So please be kind and together we can get through this.

“We’ve pulled all our specials because people were hoarding it,” Ms Kordos said.

She said some locals had begun to panic buy after seeing the FoodWorks, which is the only supermarket for 30 kilometres, being stripped by visitors.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

“You can’t have a swarm of locusts in your store, stripping it bare and not have anything for your regular customers.”


Woodend Coles was also stripped bare by shoppers on Tuesday. Locals said most of the food was taken by people arriving from Melbourne, an hour away. (Supplied)

Pasta, canned food, meat, and frozen vegetables were all limited to two packets per person, which angered a few customers.

Ms Kordos said her staff had been verbally abused by customers, including one woman calling a staff member a “f**king bitch” for not letting her have more pasta.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

“We have signs and people still tried to buy more. People say I’m buying for my neighbour, my father, my brother,” she said.

People have taken to social media to ask local supermarkets to only sell to locals, but Ms Kordos said that was unrealistic.

“We’re in business to make money, let’s be honest. How do you police it? I don’t know if it’s legal to turn people away. The best we can do is limit,” she said.

But people had tried to fool her; a three-month supply of toilet paper sold in two days last weekend so a man she had never seen before asked if there was any out the back “for locals”. She turned him away.

“We’re a small community. We’re not a major city store, we didn’t expect this.”

‘No fundamental shortages’, Woolworths CEO says

Advocacy groups have warned disadvantaged people are the hardest hit by the supermarket shortages.

Many cannot afford to buy in bulk and are worried some supplies might run out.

The chief executive of Woolworths Group, Brad Banducci, said the “surge buying”, which had accelerated since the weekend, was not necessary because there were “no fundamental shortages”.

“We have enough product in Australia to feed all of our customers,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Mornings program.

“If we all buy what we need and treat our team with respect we will rapidly get back into full supply or 99 per cent of supply of most of the products our customers have come to enjoy.”

Video: Dr Norman Swan explains coronavirus terminology

(ABC News)

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Minister issues warning as number of coronavirus cases in NSW surges past 200


There have been 39 new confirmed coronavirus cases in NSW in the past 24 hours, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has said.

Key points:

  • Minister warns that NSW needs to be prepared for an exponential increase in cases
  • Premier says it’s too early to say whether NSW should shut down bars and restaurants
  • Sydney Opera House cancels all performances until at least March 29

It is the largest increase in a 24-hour period, overtaking yesterday’s record rise of 37 cases.

NSW now has 210 confirmed cases across the state.

There are 1,482 cases under investigation, with 28,552 cases tested and excluded, NSW Health said.

Ninety cases of the 210 were acquired overseas, 54 were likely due to contact with a confirmed case and the remainder were either under investigation or unknown.

The largest age group affected is the 30-39 group, with 52 cases.

Mr Hazzard said the state needed to be prepared for an exponential increase in infections.

“This virus has very much a mind of its own and it knows that at the moment across the world, it’s winning the battle,” he said.

“Here in NSW, I think we’re holding the line but we still need to do a lot more work.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was too early to say whether the state could follow the actions of virus-hit locations overseas by closing venues such as bars and restaurants.

“I don’t want to speculate on that as yet,” she said.

“Please know that we are in regular, daily contact with the health experts. We are motivated by the advice we have from experts.

“We are not at that stage yet [of closing venues]. But I do appreciate all of us, including myself, are taking extra precautions as we should, so there is no doubt been a downturn in what people normally do.”

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

The latest update on cases follows the announcement by the State Government today of a $2.3 billion coronavirus stimulus package, including a $700 million funding boost for NSW Health’s frontline services.

Ms Berejiklian said the package would be split between healthcare and other measures including tax exemptions aimed at keeping people in jobs.

“A huge component will go directly towards the health system, to purchase more equipment, to put on additional staff, and to take care of every patient that comes through,” she said.

“We also appreciate given the extra measures of social distancing and social isolation, the impact this is having on our community.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

“That’s why the package today includes a huge component to relieve small businesses and medium-sized businesses of payroll tax, but also to ensure that government does its bit in employing more people in certain areas during this difficult time.”

Elsewhere, the Sydney Opera House announced it was cancelling all public performances from today until at least March 29.

Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron said it was the venue’s responsibility to protect the public from the spread of coronavirus.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly but these are unprecedented events,” she said.

Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our artists, audiences, visitors and our valued staff.”

Video: Dr Norman Swan explains coronavirus terminology

(ABC News)

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Thousands of home welfare checks after coronavirus cases are sent home


Health authorities have allowed some coronavirus patients, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Hollywood actor Tom Hanks, to return home for treatment instead of keeping them isolated in hospital.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said home treatment would become more common as more people were infected in a bid to free up hospital beds for critical cases.

“I am aware that a small number of the currently confirmed patients have been allowed to isolate themselves at home,” Mr Miles said.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

“As we transition to seeing more cases, we would see more people receive their treatment at home.”

Mr Miles said health systems would be gradually moving towards home treatment for the virus.

“Most people, 80 per cent of people, would have very mild symptoms, something like a common cold,” he said.

“It’s entirely reasonable, it’s better for them, it’s better for our hospitals too, if we can treat them in their homes.”

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The Australian Red Cross has already made more than 8,861 welfare calls to 3,406 people who have been self-isolating.

Mr Miles said most of Queensland’s infections had been mild.

“All of these cases are relatively mild,” he said.

“None are in intensive care at this stage.

“We’ve treated the early cases in hospital because we could, because we had that capacity.

“But also because it gave us an opportunity to observe the virus and observe how people responded to it.”

Doctors conduct home checks


Debbie Kilroy says she is being well looked after by doctors. (Supplied: Debbie Kilroy)

On Monday, prisoner advocate Debbie Kilroy and activist Boneta-Marie Mabo revealed they had tested positive for COVID-19 after being on the same plane as Mr Dutton.

Mr Dutton returned a positive result for the virus on Friday and was admitted to hospital in Brisbane.

He told Sky News on Monday that he had since been able to return home and is self-isolating after his family moved to a friend’s house.

Ms Kilroy and Ms Mabo are also among the coronavirus patients being treated outside hospital.

“We are not being hospitalised as there’s limited beds,” Mr Kilroy said.

“We are the first ones being quarantined in community.”


Boneta-Marie Mabo says its been difficult being away from family while in home-quarantine. (Supplied: Debbie Kilroy)

On social media, Ms Kilroy shared images of her home-quarantine treatment, which included checks from doctors wearing protective equipment.

“Day three in quarantine in our community … being well looked after,” she said.

“I feel quite unwell with flu-like symptoms.

What happens when a pandemic is declared
Coronavirus is now hitting Europe and the Middle East. Experts say we all need to start preparing for things to get worse.

“Don’t risk your health cause (sic) the virus is vicious.

“Self-quarantine and take care everyone.”

Ms Mabo said the hardest part of being in home quarantine was having to stay away from her daughter.

“It’s quite distressing, it’s been hard,” she said.

“There is no treatment for this, so we’ve just been keeping our fluids up, eating healthy, doing what we can to stay healthy in the situation.”

Actor Tom Hanks, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, was discharged from the Gold Coast University hospital in the last day.

His wife Rita Wilson remains in the isolation ward.

Video: Dr Norman Swan explains coronavirus terminology

(ABC News)

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St Patrick’s Day, Crab Fest celebrations cancelled, festivals delayed as coronavirus hits WA events

Perth 6000

The St Patrick’s Day Festival, the Mandurah Crab Fest and the Fairbridge Festival are among multiple high-profile West Australian events to be cancelled or postponed amid the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

Key points:

  • Organisers say event cancellations are disappointing but necessary
  • Several festivals are being delayed until later in the year
  • Cinemas say movie screenings will continue this weekend

Prime Minister Scott Morrison advised today that all non-essential organised gatherings of more than 500 people should be scrapped from Monday.

Entertainment businesses are preparing for a hit to their bottom line as coronavirus forces them to reconsider events in the wake of a possible extended period of public social isolation.

Before the Prime Minister’s announcement, the axe had already fallen on this year’s St Patrick’s Day Festival, due to be held tomorrow in Leederville.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

“We know people were looking forward to the event, and we know the community group has been working hard over 12 months to deliver this, but we do need to be cautious and we do need to put public health first,” Vincent Mayor Emma Cole said.

“I believe people understand why, and they know it’s really important.”

St Patricks Day WA Festival chairman Olan Healy said the event had been 12 months in the making, with many people working full-time to draw in fundraising and sponsors.

“I think it’s the right decision,” he said.

“We are bitterly disappointed but we completely understand.”

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Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Ms Cole said the council was still considering whether to proceed with a series of mid-sized and smaller events scheduled for the coming weeks.

“We’re relying on daily advice coming through from public health, and every day we’re reassessing and making these tough decisions,” she said.

Festivals, sports events postponed

Fairbridge Festival organisers announced today the event would be postponed for six months.

The folk, roots, blues and world music festival has been running for 27 years at its bushland site 100 kilometres south of Perth, and was due to go ahead in April.

Festival general manager Stuart MacLeod said it was a difficult time for the industry in general.

“Fairbridge Festival provides a family experience unlike any other in WA and we look forward to continuing to provide this experience for our community at a time deemed safe by qualified health professionals,” he said in a statement.


Next month’s Fairbridge Festival has been postponed until later in the year. (ABC South West WA: Sharon Kennedy)

“Our team is excited to bring your Fairbridge Festival later in the year, and we hope to announce these new dates as soon as possible.”

All tickets purchased for the April dates will be valid for the new festival dates.

The Good Day Sunshine festival in WA’s Margaret River region next weekend has also been postponed until October. About 5,000 tickets had been sold for the event at 3 Oceans Wine Company, which was to headline John Butler and Xavier Rudd.

Organisers Macro Music said the event will be re-scheduled for October, with a specific date to be announced on Monday, and all tickets would remain valid for the new date.

Surf Life Saving WA has cancelled this weekend’s Nipper Championships, which were set to be held at Scarborough Beach from Friday to Sunday.

Organisers said they were carefully considering the future of upcoming championship events over the next few months as well.

Little Athletics WA has also called off its State Championships this weekend, which was set to host 1,500 junior track and field athletes.

Crab Fest cancellation ‘devastating’ for businesses

Mandurah Mayor Rhys Williams confirmed today that Crab Fest, which traditionally attracts tens of thousands of people and was due to take place this weekend, would not go ahead.

“In light of the evolving status of coronavirus since last night, we sought the chief health officer’s recommendation on Crab Fest, which was that it should not go ahead,” Mr Williams said.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and given how important Crab Fest is to our local businesses, community and economy, we are devastated that we have had to cancel.

“Ultimately, the health and wellbeing of our community is paramount.”


Mandurah’s annual Crab Fest traditionally attracts thousands of people. (Source: Kate Stephens)

Mr Williams said the council would work closely with local businesses to help minimise the impact of the cancellation, but urged people to consider dining out.

“One of the messages that we are sending out to our local people is that if you feel that you can and you are well, go out this weekend and have a bite to eat at a local restaurant because it is likely that they will be overstocked,” he said.

Mandurah crab catcher Damien Bell said people were still encouraged to visit restaurants in the area over the weekend to help consume the two tonnes of local crabs that had been caught ahead of the event.

He said to minimise waste some crabs had been taken to Perth for sale, while others had been donated to local community groups like the Mandurah RSL.

“So it’s not like a real big disaster, but it … was a shock,” Mr Bell said.

Cinemas assess impact

Grand Cinemas managing director Allan Stiles said movie screenings would still go ahead over the weekend, despite at least two long-anticipated films being pulled by distributors — the new James Bond film and Peter Rabbit 2.

Mr Stiles said the delayed release of those movies “takes a lot of money out of the marketplace”.


Grand Cinemas says it’s a worrying time for cinemas. (ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)

“It’s a worrying time, it’s a worrying concern, but we’re making all precautions towards hopefully just keeping running with it all,” he said.

He said the cinema was taking precautions to leave gaps in patron seating and restrict some sessions, as well as applying stringent cleaning protocols.

Mr Stiles said the cinema market in China had lost billions of dollars in six weeks as people stayed in isolation and he was concerned about the financial implications for Grand Cinemas.

“We’re watching it very closely … we might have to talk to landlords and banks.”

However, Perth Festival has cancelled the remainder of its film season from Monday.

Ticketing manager Scott Beckwith said the decision had been taken in response to “concerns around COVID-19” and thanked patrons “for your understanding at this time”.

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

This school has been planning for a coronavirus shutdown for weeks. Here is how it will work

Perth 6000

Schools across Australia are facing the prospect of having to close their doors to students after the Prime Minister announced a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people in a bid to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Key points:

  • The Federal Government has been ramping up its coronavirus response
  • The AMA wants educational facilities closed as soon as possible
  • Perth’s Christ Church Grammar has already taken steps to prepare

Although the advice does not yet extend to schools, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged governments to consider closing educational facilities soon to limit the spread of the virus.

In Western Australia, Christ Church Grammar School in Perth’s western suburbs has spent the past three months preparing for a possible prolonged closure.

On Friday morning the school undertook a trial of remote teaching involving 200 of its Year 10 students.

The boys were given the option to stay at home for the first two periods and use a computer program to connect with their teacher online.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

Student Seb Chandraratna was one of those who stayed at home and tested the new technology.

“I reckon it’s a good idea, because education is important … especially if you want to get a good job,” he said.


Student Seb Chandraratna took part in the trial of the technology. (ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)

“I never thought this would actually happen.

“Yes technology is improving every day, but I never thought it would get this far, at least this quickly.”

Using the technology, teachers can see all students in their class via their webcams, with the boys able to raise their hands virtually to gain the teacher’s attention.

Director of studies Mahendra Vaswani said the plan was all about risk mitigation, ensuring students could still access education in the event of a prolonged shutdown.


Mahendra Vaswani says the aim is to ensure teaching and learning continuity. (ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)

“We want to be assured and we want to reassure our community that we’ve got teaching and learning continuity no matter what might happen,” he said.

“So as a result of today’s trial we certainly will be looking at how we might scale this.”

School started the ‘what if’ conversation early

The school executive met in early January, when the coronavirus pandemic was in its infancy, to begin contingency planning.

“It hadn’t quite hit our shores, but we started the conversation about ‘what if’, what might happen,” Mr Vaswani said.

Mathematics teacher Hamish McLean led the first online class with students on Friday morning.

“It actually went really well,” he said.


Hamish McLean was pleased with the first online teaching session. (ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)

“There were a few teething problems, but that’s what happens with a trial — that’s why we’ve done it.

Mr McLean said the interpersonal relationship was not hugely affected by the loss of face-to-face contact.

“A tiny bit was lost, but the good thing about the software is we can still see students’ faces and they can still react via chat,” he said.

AMA predicts students won’t return after term break

The AMA’s WA president, Andrew Miller, predicted widespread school closures would happen in the near future.

“The schools, we need a bit of preparation time but it will be coming,” he said.

“Sometime in the next few weeks we would expect the Government would be looking closely at that.

“I suspect what will happen is that schools won’t go back after the holidays.


The school is now looking at running the online program on a bigger scale. (ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)

“I think it is also time to look at tighter travel restrictions.”

Education Minister Sue Ellery said her department was developing materials to help public school students continue learning in the event of school closures.

“Obviously this planning has to take into account the many different locations and types of schools we have around Western Australia,” she said.

“There are a range of options that are being considered, including the School of Isolation and Distance which already delivers online education, as well as online learning platforms which schools already use, such as Connect.

“Public school principals were made aware today that plans are well underway.

“Principals will communicate directly with parents to let them know of any arrangements if and when the need arises.

“I understand non-government schools are making their own arrangements to suit their individual schools.”

Video: Will the coronavirus push Australia into recession? Alan Kohler takes a look


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RSL concedes coronavirus concerns will likely cancel WA Anzac Day services

Perth 6000

The WA branch of the RSL has conceded there is a “pretty good possibility” Anzac Day services will be cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic given the vulnerability of elderly veterans to the disease.

Key points:

  • The AMA says veterans are “particularly vulnerable” to coronavirus
  • The number of confirmed WA COVID-19 cases remains at nine
  • A new text message service will quickly alert patients of their results

The comments came after the WA branch of the Australians Medical Association (AMA) called for services to be reconsidered.

RSLWA chief executive John McCourt said while planning for services was still underway, a final decision would be made in the coming days.

“If you’re asking whether it’s a possibility that Anzac Day here would be cancelled, there’s a pretty good possibility,” Mr McCourt said.

“There are two things in terms of the importance for RSLWA among all others — it’s the duty of care that we must adhere to not only for veterans and their families but also to the general community, and secondly the demographics that make up RSLWA.

“You can appreciate that while there are relatively new contemporary veterans, a large number of our veterans are elderly so [it’s] very, very important that we put their interest first.”


The Anzac Day parade of retired and serving military personnel through Perth typically attracts thousands. (ABC News: Andrea Mayes)

Mr McCourt said if the services did not go ahead as they had in previous years, other options would be considered.

“That’s an option we’re looking at in terms of actually having a semblance of commemoration and then hopefully have that communicated by various electronic means to our members and the general public. We haven’t arrived at that planning yet,” he said.

‘It’s not just any mass gathering’: AMA

AMA WA president Andrew Miller said while the day should still be honoured, it needed to be done in a different way in the wake of the global public health emergency.

“Anzac Day is obviously a mass gathering which we are advising it would be prudent to reconsider at this stage,” he said.

How WA’s pandemic plan affects you
Western Australia’s pandemic plan includes some major steps to restrict the expected spread of coronavirus in the state.

“It’s not just any mass gathering, it’s one that’s very close to our hearts where we honour our veterans.

“They’re a particularly vulnerable group to this disease and so it would seem incongruous to get a whole group of them together during this crisis.

“We’re sure that the Government and the RSL will look at this with a great deal of care, and we think the community should start preparing for the idea that we should honour our Anzacs this year on that very special day, still with a holiday but in a very different way.”

He said the community needed to realise it was facing “the kind of challenge that maybe none of us could have imagined before” as the COVID-19 outbreak was official declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation overnight.


The Anzac Day parade on St George’s Terrace is a traditional highlight of commemorations in Perth. (ABC News: Rebecca Trigger)

The WA Government said it would look at how Anzac Day commemorations could be safely held.

“I’ll be advised by the chief health officer but Anzac Day, as you know, is often very cold,” WA Health Minister Roger Cook said.

“Sometimes it’s a little bit rainy and there’s a lot of older people attending, so we’re going to have to watch that date very carefully.”

WA Veterans Affairs Minister Peter Tinley said Anzac Day organisers should carefully consider the Health Department’s advice.

“One thing I can guarantee is that the veterans community of Western Australia, of which I am a proud member, will be commemorating Anzac Day,” Mr Tinley said.

“It’ll be in some form, some way — it might be quite modest.”

Text notifications for coronavirus results

Mr Cook today announced a new text message notification system would be rolled out across WA to alert people who returned a negative result for coronavirus.

He said the new alerts would help “get the information out to people more quickly so that they can get back to work … or back to their lives” and help preserve Health Department resources.

“It’s about streamlining the processes,” Mr Cook said at a press conference to give an update on the coronavirus situation in the state.


Negative test results will be conveyed to people via text message, the WA Government has announced. (ABC Radio: Malcolm Sutton)

More than 2,000 people have so far been tested for COVID-19 in WA.

Mr Cook said no new cases of the virus had been confirmed overnight, leaving the number of diagnosed cases in the state at nine.

Perth’s first three specialist walk-in clinics began testing patients for the virus on Tuesday.

East Metropolitan Health Services chief executive Liz MacLeod, who is coordinating the clinics, said more than 1,500 people had attended in the first two days of operation, with 860 undergoing testing.

So far 20 negative results had been returned, but the results took up to 72 hours to finalise, she said.

Minister calls out unnecessary testing

Mr Cook has called for the community to listen carefully to official advice on who should be tested to avoid wasting resources.

“We’ve had instances [of] companies, particularly in the professional services industries, requiring those employees who are returning from overseas to get themselves tested before they go back into the workplace,” he said.


Health Minister Roger Cook says it is important to conserve Health Department resources in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. (ABC News: James Carmody)

“That’s unnecessary and it’s a waste of precious resources.

“We need to ration our resources and make sure that we only use them if it’s absolutely necessary.”

Mr Cook reiterated the parameters for those who should seek testing.

“If people are travelling back from overseas and you do not have any flu-like symptoms, you do not need testing,” Mr Cook said.

Who should present to COVID-19 clinics?

  • Those who are experiencing flu-like symptoms — like sore throat, cough, fever — AND
  • Have returned from overseas in the past 14 days or
  • Have been in confirmed or suspected contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case

Patients who are tested should remain isolated at home until they receive their test results.
Clinics have been set up at Royal Perth, Sir Charles Gairdner and Fiona Stanley Hospitals and will be open from 8:00am–8:00pm daily.
For more information go to the Health Department website.

“If you go to our COVID clinics, you’ll be turned away and we want people to get that message loud and clear.

“We don’t want to waste your time, your company’s time and we certainly don’t want to waste the resources of the Department of Health.”

‘Do it in WA’ tourism campaign launched

A multi-million-dollar tourism campaign using the slogan “Do it in WA” has been launched to help the local industry manage the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The campaign aims to encourage West Australians to holiday at home and explore their own backyard instead of travelling interstate or overseas.

Video: Do it in WA tourism campaign launched amid coronavirus pandemic

(ABC News)

WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia acknowledged the tongue-in-cheek messaging and said it was a call to arms for all West Australians to choose their home state.

“This is about unashamedly promoting Western Australian businesses,” Mr Papalia said.

“If you want to help Western Australia … help your fellow West Australians, then you should holiday at home.”

Mr Papalia said pockets of the tourism industry, in particular the areas that relied heavily on Chinese tourists, had already been hit hard.

“The full extent of what’s going to happen hasn’t yet necessarily spread everywhere,” Mr Papalia said.


The Do it in WA tourism campaign aims to get locals to holiday at home. (Supplied: Tourism WA)

Tourism and hospitality businesses are being encouraged to offer up special deals as part of the campaign.

Funding for the campaign comes out of a previously announced $4.85 million pool of money for a domestic marketing boost.

The Australian Hotels Association WA has celebrated the campaign, saying it came at a time of unprecedented challenge for the industry.

“The ‘Do It In WA’ campaign will drive many Western Australians to look at the vast array of holiday options we have throughout the state, from well-known tourism hotspots through to unparalleled destinations off the beaten track,” chief executive Bradley Woods said.

Rock lobster rescue package

The WA Government also announced a rescue package to help the rock lobster industry deal with the financial impact of coronavirus.

Sales to China usually make up 95 per cent of WA rock lobster exports, but they have fallen to almost zero after the virus shut down much of the country.


Western rock lobster exports have slumped because of coronavirus. (ABC Rural: Karen Hunt)

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley said the current season would be extended from 12 to 18 months and the additional six months’ worth of quota would be brought forward, increasing the allowable catch to 9,000 tonnes.

He said only about 10 per cent of the normal season tonnage of 6,500 had been taken to date, “so that gives you an assessment and an idea of what’s happened to the market.”

Mr Tinley said he also wanted to make it easier for back-of-boat sales of lobsters to the local community.

“Basically this means more domestic supply for Western Australians to get access to our very prized resource in the lobster industry,” he said.

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Western Rock Lobster Industry chief executive Matt Taylor said it was an extremely difficult period for the industry.

“Our fishers haven’t been able to fish for seven weeks now, we were about 13 days into the season so it’s come at the worst possible time,” Mr Taylor said.

“[There’s been] a lot of financial stress and that’s why it’s been great to work so well with Government to relieve some of that financial stress and create some business certainty around the response.”

Call for more coronavirus stimulus

The State Opposition said those steps did not go far enough, calling for a much broader economic stimulus package.

Video: Will the coronavirus push Australia into recession? Alan Kohler takes a look


“There’s a number of options on the table. The Government are awash with funds,” Liberal leader Liza Harvey said.

“They had a $2.5 billion windfall in the budget as a result of the high iron ore prices and the stability of the Australian dollar over time.

“They should use some of that to stimulate the domestic economy.

“Businesses are hurting, businesses are laying off people. We need to stop that, protect jobs, provide a stimulus.”

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Coronavirus has closed our school for six weeks and counting. This is how we make it work


There’s no playground or lunch bell at this school, but some 8,000 kilometres from Beijing, Angela Steinmann and Jaima Holland are preparing for another day of class.

From the confines of a renovated Queenslander in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, the pair have found themselves grappling with the residual impacts of the coronavirus crisis: school shutdowns.

Angela is the elementary school principal at Western Academy of Beijing (WAB), where Jaima is a physics teacher and Grade 9 mentor.

As the Chinese New Year rolled around in late January, the pair — like “50 per cent of our staff and students” — left the capital to travel overseas, opting to holiday in the Philippines.

Then, the outbreak occurred.


Angela is the elementary school principal at the Western Academy of Beijing, where Jaima is a physics teacher and Grade 9 mentor. (Western Academy of Beijing)

“At the beginning of the holidays [Chinese authorities] announced that schools would be closed, so we had to very quickly make a plan of action to begin online learning when we came back a week later,” says Angela.

“Rather than quickly return to China, we decided there wasn’t really any need for it. We weren’t going back to school, so a decision was made that students and teachers could operate from wherever they were.”

With friends and family in Brisbane, the pair returned to Australia (“The internet connection here is better than the Philippines,” Jaima quips), where they have spent much of the year navigating the ups and downs of their new classroom.

They are now almost finished the sixth week of delivering an online learning curriculum to 1,400 WAB students aged from 3-18 who represent the many cultures and nationalities who attend this international school for expatriate children.

‘We went from zero to full-on in a week’

As authorities work to contain the spread of COVID-19, more than 290 million students across the globe have been disrupted by school closures (much to the chagrin of parents).

While China was the only nation mandating closures some three weeks ago, as of the beginning of March, at least 22 countries in three different continents had followed suit in announcing or implementing contingency plans of their own.

It means schools have had to pivot to an online curriculum, as they stare down the barrel of an uncertain future.


Using online applications like Zoom, Skype and WeChat, teachers set the usual daily course work for their students. (ABC News: Bridget Judd)

As if the transition wasn’t hard enough, the Western Academy of Beijing, an international school in the north of the city, has been forced to confront another hurdle: many of their more than 150 staff, who had been overseas on holidays when the outbreak occurred, remain in all corners of the world (“We have people in Europe, America, Asia, Australia — everywhere,” Angela says).

“We all follow Beijing time, so the time zone has been the trickiest one,” she adds. “It has been a huge challenge; we went from zero to full-on in a week.”

Using online applications like Zoom, Skype and the Chinese social media app WeChat, teachers set the usual daily course work for their students, interspersed with parent workshops, forums and teacher staff meetings.

It is very much business as usual (“Our swimming teacher, for example, is still doing swimming lessons online,” Angela says), but that is not to say there have not been challenges.

Despite being stuck in different corners of the world, staff still have weekly meetings.
(Supplied: Angela Steinmann)

“In any classroom you’ve got a range of abilities. Not just academic abilities but self-management abilities, the ability to make sure they’re engaged and can organise themselves,” Jaima says.

“And when you go into an online learning platform, suddenly that range becomes so much larger.”

In the case of WAB’s multicultural student body, a range of English-language skills, particularly among younger pupils, add another layer of complication into the mix.

“The real difficulty of [taking lessons online] was, how are we going to do this to accommodate the needs of such a diverse range of students, but do it in a way that’s relatively streamlined?” Jaima says.

So what does an average day look like?

For Angela and Jaima, communication and engagement with both students and parents has been paramount in ensuring they do not slip “through the cracks”.

The wider community is acutely aware of the predicament they are facing, and until the school closures are lifted, students and staff simply don’t have any other options.

But while online learning may be part and parcel of modern life, the pair are quick to admit that the transition to a virtual classroom has been a matter of trial and error.

“At first I thought, this will be great, we’ll just post one email for the week and it’s not too overwhelming,” Jaima says.

“It was the opposite, students felt overwhelmed because they were getting a weeks’ worth of work for each class and it was just too much.”

The school has used this feedback to hone its approach.

Students are given their weekly coursework each Monday, and are then tasked with devising a timetable for the days ahead (“For example, when are they Zooming with their teachers?” Angela says).

Teachers also upload a video of themselves every morning, welcoming students into the new day and outlining their daily tasks, which have already been posted online.

An example of the course material posted online for students at the Western Academy of Beijing.
(Supplied: Angela Steinmann)

“Every class in elementary has a class blog, all children also have their own blogs, so if they have to do work, they can take a picture or upload it to the blog, so their parent and teacher can give feedback,” says Angela.

“I spend a lot of time just in correspondence, checking in with students, tracking students, giving feedback, communicating with mentors and counsellors if you feel a student is getting too far behind,” adds Jaima.

Virtual classrooms in use in Australia

While Australia has so far been largely immune to the brunt of the crisis, the premise of online learning is not an entirely foreign concept.

Classes have already been cancelled in New South Wales, while similar scenes have been observed in Victoria, as more people test positive for coronavirus.

Coronavirus questions answered
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In anticipation of further closures, the NSW Education Department has confirmed it is working with its major IT providers to create virtual classrooms so teachers can provide work to students over the internet.

This technology is already in use at Epping Boys High School, which is using Google Classroom across all year groups and subjects to provide daily online lessons for students in self-isolation. At Willoughby Girls High School, also in Sydney, students have access to lessons and content from Edmodo and Google Classroom.

While Queensland is yet to be affected by school closures, its education department has also confirmed it has “online learning materials and virtual classroom capability that can be used by schools where appropriate to support sustained curriculum delivery”.

But should Australian schools have to transition to online learning in the event of a shutdown, it’s may not mimic the experience of Beijing’s WAB.


Should Australian schools have to transition to online learning in the event of a shutdown, it may not mimic the Beijing experience. (ABC News: Elise Pianegonda)

“The technical infrastructure in public schools just doesn’t exist,” says Dan Hogan, a public school teacher.

“You’d be lucky to find a public school in the country where each student in a class of 30 has a device like a tablet or a laptop. They always have to be shared between two, or three, or more.”

‘There are equity and access issues’

Australia has one of the largest resource gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged schools in the OECD, while research has found the gap between high and low socioeconomic high schools is widening.

Should schools be forced to pivot to an online curriculum, some fear this education divide could become more pronounced.

Here’s how 8,500 schools rank on the income ladder
Four elite private schools spent more on new facilities than the poorest 1,800 schools combined, an ABC investigation has revealed.

“There are many students, either because of the failure of infrastructure in their community or the socioeconomic status of individuals where they don’t have access to a computer or suitable device, who will be unable to get access to any virtual learning spaces,” says Kevin Bates, president of the Queensland Teachers Union.

“I’m also concerned that the sort of work we would be expecting people to pick up would involve a set of teaching materials that many teachers have never used.

“There are equity and access issues, and there are issues associated with the practicality of having 40,000 teachers familiarise themselves with the curriculum documents and effectively deliver a program for students in such a short timeframe.”

While teachers have always used technology as an “integrated part of their daily work”, the NSW Teachers Federation says, delivering an entire school curriculum on online platforms will not be able to occur overnight.

“That will require the department to provide additional resources in the areas of IT, in terms of accessibility of course across the state,” says senior vice-president Amber Flohm.

“But also in professional learning, that’s not something that could be rolled out across the state overnight.”

What can Australia learn from the overseas experience?

Jaima concedes the transition to online learning was aided by their “incredibly well-resourced” school, which had already purchased online learning platforms and software for teachers to use in classes prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

But being able to streamline those tools, and ensuring teachers were competent in them, was a learning curve in and of itself.


Jaima says the school had already purchased online learning platforms and software for teachers to use in class. (Western Academy of Beijing)

“We’ve had teachers teaching teachers sessions, because some teachers are more IT savvy than others,” Angela says.

“Everyone has had to upskill in certain programs just to get them up and running. And that includes kids and parents as well.”

With no end in sight, Angela and Jaima are looking towards the year ahead.

There are senior exams to plan for, and other milestones they need to take into consideration, should their new classroom become a longer-term fixture.

So what can Australia learn from their experience?

“Look after each other, check in with your colleagues. It’s going to be difficult, but persevere and stick with it,” says Jaima.

“Don’t underestimate the importance of connecting with others. The isolation is really hard to deal with,” adds Angela.

Video: Biosecurity expert Raina MacIntyre assesses Australia's response to the coronavirus


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Coronavirus forces school trip ban with parents set to lose thousands of dollars

Brisbane 4000

Teenager Adelaide Hardy had been planning her overseas school trip for more than a year but it has now been cancelled due to coronavirus fears, with her parents possibly forfeiting thousands of dollars.

Key points:

  • Schools are responsible for organising insurance for overseas trips
  • Parents of affected students are being told to contact schools to figure out how much money they can recoup
  • Some schools are also cancelling local trips like school camps within Queensland

The Hardy family are one of hundreds across Queensland caught in financial limbo, after the Education Department ordered all overseas school travel be cancelled, indefinitely.

Mother Sally Hardy said she started paying for her 15-year-old daughter’s Year 10 literary tour of the United Kingdom at the beginning of 2019, and is facing the prospect of losing thousands of dollars.

The trip was meant to start at the beginning of April.

“We understand it, but we’re just gutted,” Ms Hardy said.

“I’m pretty sure we won’t see some of the money, because there were things that needed to be paid quite a lot in advance and I imagine they’re not refundable.”

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

“At the moment there’s no information coming from anywhere — we just have to wait and see.

“We understand why it was cancelled and obviously they want to keep everyone as safe as possible — it’s just sad news for the kids.”


Sally Hardy says she started paying for her 15-year-old daughter’s UK trip at the beginning of 2019. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

Schools are responsible for organising insurance for overseas trips and the costs can reach up to $10,000 per student, meaning refunds would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The Education Department has not been able to say how many excursions would be cancelled, or how much money parents could lose.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

But Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said support would be offered to parents to figure out what could be recouped.

“All state schools impacted by the official international travel ban are encouraged to work with their travel agent provider and insurers,” Ms Grace said.

“Parents are encouraged to contact schools directly with any questions they may have and any schools needing further assistance should contact the department’s international area.”

Adelaide said she was “really upset” at missing the trip.

“I was really excited to go and then it was just cancelled, so that was not fun,” she said.

“I’m just devastated but I can see why — even though England and Ireland have not been that big of a hit with the virus.”


The trip for Sally Hardy’s daughter Adelaide was meant to start at the beginning of April. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

Local trips also cancelled

A number of private and Catholic schools in Queensland have also issued similar directives banning international school travel — for students and teachers.

The ABC has spoken with a number of school principals who were also unsure whether the cancellation would be covered by insurance.

The State Government hinted it might offer financial support if parents were unable to recoup the full amount.

But some schools have also cancelled local trips like school camps to South East Queensland or northern New South Wales.

In an email to parents yesterday, John Paul College, south of Brisbane, said it had postponed its three-day Year 11 camp at north Noosa, which was booked for next week.

“Advice from different government agencies and the potential threat of exposure to the coronavirus mean that we need to postpone the Year 11 camp until later in the year,” head of secondary school Allan Dennis wrote.

“We do this in the best interest of our students, their families and our community.”


A number of school principals are unsure whether cancellations will be covered by insurance. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

School closures being considered

Schools have also been planning for shutdowns and closures to stop the virus spreading through the student community.

Brisbane biggest school — Kelvin Grove State College — wrote to parents warning of a possible closure.

“If there is a confirmed case at our school, it is likely our school will need to close for a period to allow Queensland Health to assess the situation and to perform contact tracing as required to identify people and students who may have come in contact with the COVID-19 case,” the letter by executive principal Llew Paulger said.

“The Department of Education will then work with our school to conduct any specialised cleaning of our facilities as required to ensure our school is safe for students and staff to return when clearance is given.

“A closure is likely to include any on-site services such as outside school hours care (OSHC) and other facility hirers.”

Video: Biosecurity expert Raina MacIntyre assesses Australia's response to the coronavirus


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McLaren and Haas team members quarantined at Australian Grand Prix

Melbourne 3000

Two members of the Haas Formula One team and one from McLaren are in quarantine as a precaution amid coronavirus fears ahead of Sunday’s season-opening race in Melbourne.

Key points:

  • Renault pulled both Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon from the team’s livery unveiling due to concerns about coronavirus
  • Team members from McLaren and Haas are awaiting results of tests for coronavirus
  • Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said at this stage the F1 season-opener will go ahead as planned

“Two members of the team have been quarantined and remain in their hotel room. They displayed symptoms of a cold,” a spokesperson for Haas told Reuters.

McLaren said one team member had self-isolated in the hotel as a precaution.

“We expect to receive the results overnight. The team is operating as per our normal schedule,” McLaren said.

Australian Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo was pulled out of a scheduled Renault team media conference over fears he might be exposed to the coronavirus.


Australian star Daniel Ricciardo was pulled from a media event at the Australian Grand Prix. (AAP: Julian Smith)

Ricciardo and teammate Esteban Ocon were due to take questions from reporters after they unveiled Renault’s new livery for the 2020 season at the Albert Park circuit on Wednesday, but were withdrawn by team officials at the last minute.

“Our drivers were supposed to be with us for this event but due to the situation we’ve excused them for the occasion … I hope you understand why we are taking such measures,” team principal Cyril Abiteboul said.

There had earlier been concerns about whether Ferrari would take their place on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix, due to fears about team members being exposed to the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he was following advice from the state’s chief health officer in allowing the Grand Prix to go ahead in Melbourne this weekend.

“It is about proportionate responses. The advice is that it is not proportionate to cancel that event, or any other event at this stage,” Mr Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne.

The government is not currently aware of any confirmed cases, or their close contacts, linked to the Grand Prix and a government spokesperson said the public would be “informed about new confirmed cases”.

The current advice from the chief health officer is that mass gathering events like the Grand Prix, the Melbourne Fashion Festival and AFL football can continue.

Australian Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott said organisers are aware of the situation and were taking “prudent sensible measures”, including having more hand sanitisers and four warm water hand-washing stations around the venue.

“The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has been informed of three Formula One team personnel presenting for precautionary testing and who are now all undergoing precautionary self-isolation,” Mr Westacott said.

“The AGPC is monitoring the situation in conjunction with Formula One and the FIA.”

More than 300,000 fans attended race week at Albert Park last year, according to organisers’ estimates.

Video: Will the coronavirus push Australia into recession? Alan Kohler takes a look


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We’re officially in a bear market and your superannuation is on the line


The wave of selling taking place on the share market right now seems unrelenting.

It’s been so strong that the benchmark ASX200 index and the All Ordinaries index are now both in what’s known as “bear market” territory.

That means top-to-bottom losses of at least 20 per cent. In dollar terms, we’ve seen hundreds of billions of dollars wiped off the market every week.

The reasons for the stock market plunge are well-known.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

There are fears the outbreak of the coronavirus will cripple the global economy, send many firms to the wall and leave many Australians unemployed. Add to that an oil price shock and you have the makings of a financial crisis.

The run on toilet paper captures the panic mindset that we’ve also seen in financial markets.

Apart from looking into the bathroom cupboard and finding you’ve run out of toilet paper, how does the financial and economic environment we’re in now actually affect you as an individual?

Share market gains and losses

Most younger Australians have time on their side. That’s a big advantage when it comes to investing.

As you can see from this chart, there’s a truism when it comes to investing in the share market: the market always rises over the long run.

In the long run, the market always rises.
(Supplied: CMC Markets Stockbroking)

So, if you’re a worker with superannuation, history suggests that over the next few decades your balance will return to what it was late last year and then keep growing again.

For those in or approaching retirement, it’s a nervous time.

It’s important to note that share prices are coming down from all-time highs. So, while the market is down over 20 per cent, it’s still well above where it was back in 2012.

That said, if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in your nest egg, your wealth will have been cut in the past couple of months, and the time at which you shift to the Age Pension, assuming share markets don’t immediately recover, has been brought forward.

Rate cuts can’t cure COVID-19
Reserve Bank interest rate cuts will do little to keep Australia out of a deep recession if coronavirus becomes a severe pandemic, but there are some unconventional policies that could help save the economy.

However, if you sell now, financial advisors say, you are crystallising your losses.

It all depends on whether you need cash now. Some retirees who run their own self-managed super funds have told the ABC they have sold a few shares just to make sure they have some cash, or income, for the next six months.

The jobs market

However, the share market doesn’t operate in isolation.

The market itself is reflecting a material or serious deterioration (of profitability) in Australian businesses, big and small.

For some, with mountains of debt, as cash flow dries up (as people spend less), many businesses may go to the wall. The only option for many companies will be to make certain positions redundant.

Losing your job in a downturn can be both a psychologically shocking experience and a traumatic event.

Once you’ve recovered from that, though, the overwhelming advice is to keep applying for jobs, consider trying your hand at a new career where there’s more demand for workers, and re-skilling or resuming your studies.

Economists say the shock and recovery process of an economic downturn creates new industries and jobs. Anticipating where these new opportunities might be, they say, is crucial for job seekers.

Save or spend?

Can Morrison match Rudd in keeping Australia out of recession in a global crisis?
Amid the threat of coronavirus, Scott Morrison’s Government needs to keep growth going, spending enough — not too much, not too little — and choosing the right measures.

Deutsche Bank, AMP Capital, the National Australia Bank, BIS Oxford Economics and Bloomberg Economics all say Australia will enter recession in 2020 or experience a major economic shock.

The majority of Australia’s economic growth is generated by shoppers spending at the stores. Naturally, the government wants employers to keep employees on the payroll so they can keep spending.

That’s easier said than done. Why? Because it’s only natural to want to protect your own wealth.

Or, as chief economist of RBC Capital Markets Su-Lin Ong puts it:

“As much as the Prime Minister and others like to downplay some of that to a degree, I think the reality is that for both households and businesses, the underlying fundamentals will be quite weak and that needs to be taken into account when thinking about expenditure and borrowing.”

Getting by day-to-day

The pictures of toiler paper runs have also shocked, saddened and angered many Australians.

Of course, it’s upsetting to see shoppers fighting with one another to secure dunny paper.

The psychology behind it is similar to a bank run.

The reality is that even if a bank is in sound financial health, if a mistruth is spread that it’s not, public panic can develop and everyone rushes to take their money out of the bank.

While the coronavirus will knock out many business supply chains, Australia, for a start, is currently well-stocked for groceries and the ability to make those groceries.

As a spokesperson for Woolworths, Australia’s biggest supermarket supply chain, recently put it:

How will businesses cope?
Businesses are struggling with questions such as who will pay workers forced to self-isolate in a coronavirus outbreak.

“Our teams are continuing to work hard on restocking stores with long-life food and groceries from our distribution centres.”

“The vast majority of the products in our range remain available for our customers as normal.”

In the space of little over a month, Woolworths’ share price on the ASX has effectively crashed, down 20 per cent.

This means Woolworths, as a corporation, has a reduced capacity to raise funds (extra cash or finance). Put simply, it’s technically harder for it to grow its business. It does not, however, prevent the grocery chain from re-stocking its shelves with loo paper.

A time for calm

Economies grow and retract, as do share markets.

The coronavirus has a finite life, but the damage it does to the share market and the economy will take time to work through.

The hope in the meantime is that we don’t exacerbate the problems by misunderstanding or overestimating how they will ultimately affect us.

Video: Will the coronavirus push Australia into recession? Alan Kohler takes a look


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First case of coronavirus in regional Australia shuts down two university campuses

Sydney 2000

Southern Cross University (SCU) has closed two of its campuses for the day following detection of the first coronavirus case in regional Australia.

Key points:

  • The Lismore and Gold Coast campuses are shut for the day
  • A staff member who attended workshops earlier this month has tested positive to coronavirus
  • The University is yet to decide when the campuses will re-open

The Lismore campus in northern NSW and Gold Coast campus in Queensland are in lockdown to stop any potential spread of the virus after a staff member tested positive.

The decision means an estimated 8,000 students will have to study at home but are not required to self-isolate.

A university employee from the Philippines attended a series of workshops at both campuses between March 2 and 6 before falling ill.

The male staff member returned a positive test for coronavirus on Tuesday but told the university his symptoms had subsided the previous day.


The Southern Cross University campus at Coolangatta is closed today. (ABC News: Steve Keen)

“He is a strong young man and said that by Monday he felt fine,” SCU spokesman Dean Gould said.

“From what we know he is recovering well [but] we know we had a staff member on campus with this highly-contagious virus so it’s a duty of care really that we want to intervene straight away and break that potential cycle,”

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continues its steady rise in NSW with the total reaching 65.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

SCU has identified and contacted 45 people who came into contact with the man but only 16 of those people had frequent contact.

The campuses will undergo thorough cleaning today.

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Acting director of the North Coast Public Health Unit Dr Jane Jeffs said anybody who had not been contacted had no reason to be concerned.

“Generally close contact is someone who has been face-to-face for 15 minutes or more,” she said.

She said the unit is awaiting further information from their counterparts in the Philippines to gain better insight into where the man visited.

Dr Tony Lembke who is a GP in Alstonville, near Lismore, lauded the university’s decision as prudent and sensible.

He said lockdowns should be the emphasis to stop the virus “cascading” through high-traffic institutions like universities.


Jonathon Manitta arrived at the Lismore campus to find it was closed due to coronavirus. (ABC News: Bronwyn Herbert)

But engineering student Jonathon Manitta said it was “a little bit scary” arriving to a locked-down Lismore campus this morning.

“How many weeks ago was it just in China and now all of a sudden it’s at Southern Cross Uni in rural Lismore,” he said.

“It’s unsettling, it’s eye-opening but we do have systems in place to deal with it so hopefully they keep us safe.”

Marine science student Sarah Daynes was pleased the university was being cautious.

“I’m not really too worried, it’s up to them, whatever they think is right. They’ve got to take in the safety of the students and that’s what they’re doing,” she said.

Southern Cross University’s coronavirus taskforce made up of senior executives will meet today to discuss when the university should re-open.

“There could be some online delivery of our courses but there’s a whole lot of other stuff that happens outside of the classroom that’s also suspended at the moment”, Mr Gould said.

Anyone who is feeling unwell has been asked to self-isolate and seek medical attention.

Video: Will the coronavirus push Australia into recession? Alan Kohler takes a look


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Senior GP wants tourists to steer clear of bushfire-hit towns to prevent spread of coronavirus

Traralgon 3844

A rural Victorian GP is urging tourists to stay away from already vulnerable bushfire-ravaged regions to delay and minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Key points:

  • Tourism operators are desperate to lure tourists back to bushfire-affected towns
  • A Bairnsdale GP says these towns should be avoided because of their ageing populations, which are vulnerable to coronavirus
  • The call comes as a Morwell family went into quarantine after becoming sick on their return from Hawaii

Tourism operators have been desperate to lure visitors back to towns that suffered severe losses in trade due to a summer holiday period marred by bushfires.

Bairnsdale doctor Rob Phair, who is vice-president of the Rural Doctors Association of Victoria, said while East Gippsland’s relative isolation played to its advantage its ageing population was at risk, and every effort should be made to avoid exposure to coronavirus.

“On the one hand we’re promoting travel to East Gippsland,” he said.

“We want people to come back and support our small businesses, which is a critical part of our rebuilding. But on the other hand, if we have a rapidly evolving epidemic or even a pandemic we need to think about how we keep our population safe,” he said.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap

“We need to consider principles such as social distancing, self-quarantining and self-isolation, avoiding big gatherings, which might mean deciding not to go to the Formula One Grand Prix or the footy when the footy season starts.”

Coronavirus questions answered
Breaking down the latest news and research to understand how the world is living through an epidemic, this is the ABC’s Coronacast.

Dr Phair said the safest option for people in rural areas was to stay within their region’s borders.

“I know it might be a controversial point, but it’s something we need to think about because if coronavirus does start affecting rural areas we want to delay it as long as possible and stretch out the impact to give us more time to use our resources more efficiently,” he said.

“If we had a significant spike in numbers out here, I would be very concerned … we may have to change our lifestyles, and we may have to have restrictions introduced.

“We have limited resources and quite a large older population in East Gippsland and Wellington Shire, and you’d have to be very worried about how some of our older patients with multiple medical problems would do if there was an outbreak.”


Danielle Tilley and her family in Gippsland fell ill after returning from an overseas holiday last week. (Supplied: Danielle Tilley)

Morwell family spends night in hospital with suspected coronavirus

Danielle Tilley spent Monday night in hospital in the Latrobe Valley, awaiting tests to confirm if she had contracted coronavirus.

Ms Tilley said she arrived home from a holiday in Honolulu with her family on March 5 feeling “really shabby”.

“After normal jetlag, it became apparent we were suffering some sort of illness,” she said.

Ms Tilley, who works for the Victorian Government as a financial analyst, contacted Nurse on Call on Sunday night but was advised the family was fine and should continue about their business as normal.

Industries will be feeling impact of coronavirus at the end of 2020
We’re not rational — especially during times of crisis. That’s something Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg need to come to grips with when they unveil the coronavirus emergency response, writes Ian Verrender.

But on Monday, Ms Tilley and her 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son became more ill and when she called the Nurse on Call hotline a second time, she was transferred to triple-0.

“Two MICA paramedics came to our home on Monday night and we spent hours at our regional hospital as they decided what to do,” Ms Tilley said.

She said when they arrived at Latrobe Regional Hospital they were treated as if they were infected.

“We were in isolation, and tested, and myself and the kids are still awaiting results,” she said.

The family remains in quarantine at home in Morwell.

Rural health services already stretched


Bairnsdale GP Rob Phair is concerned Gippsland health services are ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak of coronavirus. (Supplied: Danielle Tilley )

Dr Phair said doctors and health care workers were growing increasingly worried about the strain coronavirus posed to rural health services.

“We have to look after ourselves so we can look after our communities, because if we get sent into quarantine for 14 days because we’ve got the virus then that’s going to affect the workforce in places like East Gippsland significantly,” Dr Phair said.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia urged people who suspect they have the virus to call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 020 080 to get advice over the telephone before visiting their local GP.

On Wednesday morning, there were 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Victoria.

Gippsland marketing consultant Sallie Jones, who operates a local dairy business, has been rolling out a series of tourism campaigns across East Gippsland since the bushfires.

She said the message to discourage tourists had come at the worst possible time.

“People are finally getting on board, coming to East Gippsland and bringing their eskies and filling them up, and it feels like a bit of a stab in the chest to be honest,” Ms Jones said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was concerned about discouraging tourism in bushfire-affected areas.

“I thought it was all about trying to promote tourism in East Gippsland — not to be driving people away,” he said.

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Italy’s coronavirus death toll soars to more than 360


The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Italy has jumped by 133 to 366, by far the largest daily rise in fatalities there since the outbreak came to light last month.

Key points:

  • Most of Italy’s deaths and cases have occurred in the northern region of Lombardy
  • 16 million Italians are now in lockdown
  • The country has more coronavirus cases than South Korea

Italian authorities said the total number of cases leapt from 5,883 to 7,375 on Saturday (local time), another record jump.

Italy has overtaken South Korea to have the highest number of recorded coronavirus cases outside China.

China has more than 80,000 cases.

Angelo Borrelli, the head of the nation’s Civil Protection Agency, said of those originally infected, 622 had fully recovered, compared to 589 the day before.

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Most of Italy’s deaths and infections have occurred in Lombardy, a populous northern region which the Government has placed under lockdown until April 3.

About 16 million Italians are now in lockdown across 15 northern provinces, with schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other public spaces closed.

The Italian stock exchange, based in Milan, will open as usual on Monday (local time), but traders are expecting a wild start to the week.

With the most economically productive part of the country in virtual quarantine and no signs of the outbreak easing, traders are bracing for volatility in the markets.


The Milan stock exchange will open as usual today, but traders are expecting a wild start to the week. (AP: Luca Bruno )

In France, authorities are banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bit to limit the spread of coronavirus.

They are also recruiting medical students and recently retired medical professionals to help deal with growing number of infected people.

The country had reported 1,126 cases as of Sunday (local time), up 19 per cent from the day before.

France has the second highest number of cases in Europe after Italy. So far, 19 people there have died.


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Second confirmed coronavirus case in Tasmania amid warning situation could peak at Easter

Hobart 7000

A second person has tested positive for coronavirus in Tasmania as health workers are warned the number of cases could peak around Easter.

Key points:

  • The second case was confirmed in Hobart, but further details have not been made available
  • Last week, a 40-year-old man tested positive in Launceston, in the state’s north
  • Health staff has been briefed about the contingency plan in case of an outbreak

“Public Health Services has been notified of a confirmed case of coronavirus in Hobart,” acting director Scott McKeown said in a statement.

The patient has been admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH).

Last week, a 40-year-old man tested positive in Launceston, having arrived from Iran.

He visited the Woolworths store for about 15 minutes before self-isolating.

Hospital staff briefed on coronavirus plan

The cases came in the days after RHH health workers were briefed at a staff meeting about a plan in case the COVID-19 outbreak becomes a pandemic.

They have been told the number of cases could increase over the next two weeks, and peak in six to eight weeks — over the Easter and school holiday period.

They were told epidemiology assessments suggest up to 30 per cent of the population may be affected by it by that time.

While the Director of Public Health, Mark Veitch, disputed that figure — saying it was unlikely 30 per cent of the population would be affected — he said there were more cases to come.

To prepare for worst-case scenarios, a contingency plan has been put in place.

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The plan means that the RHH’s Assessment and Planning Unit will relocate in less than two weeks, and become a COVID-19 assessment unit instead.

Patients who test positive for the virus would be moved to a respiratory isolation ward.

The RHH’s redevelopment, known as the K-Block, is low down the list as a viable option due to ongoing issues with water quality and air conditioning.

K-Block was on track to be completed last month, but the State Government has refused to take possession of the building.

The contingency plan might have direct implications on health staff.

Robbie Moore from the Health and Community Services Union said staff may soon be told annual leave is off the table.

“Part of what they’ve put to us is forcing staff to come back from annual leave. There’s obviously significant issues in relation to that,” he said.

“We have been briefed that they are looking at quarantining people for 14 days, when they’ve returned from certain areas.

“We’re not against that step, but we just want to make sure it’s not coming out of employees’ current entitlements.”

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

But a State Government spokesperson said it would be from personal leave.

“In the event that State Service employees currently overseas, or about to go overseas, become ill or are required to self-isolate, they will be covered under the Government’s personal leave provisions,” they said.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney is expected to make an announcement on travel and leave recommendations.

Video: The Virus: 7.30 presenter Jeremy Fernandez takes an in-depth look at the spread of COVID-19.

(ABC News)

Fewer hospitals in Tasmania a disadvantage, expert says

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Kathryn Snow said being an island state had pros and cons when it came to the spreading of the virus.

“I think Tasmania has a bit of an advantage in that it doesn’t get the same volume of international visitors, that say New South Wales or Victoria would get,” she said.

“But at the same time, having a small population who are spread out and less hospitals is a bit of a disadvantage.

“It’s not about the person or the cases that are there right now, it’s about the cases that might come in in the next couple of months and whether they’re identified quickly.”

She said the virus was “relatively infectious”, and quick response could help limit the outbreak.

“We think most people who have the virus pass it on to between one and four other people,” she said.

“And that’s why we’ve seen it take off quite quickly in some countries.”

She said Australia was still in the category of countries that had been able to contain the virus quickly, but these were still the early days.

“It really could go either way, I think. We almost certainly will see more cases coming in,” she said.

She said Tasmanian health sector’s “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” approach was adequate.

“People do need to start changing their habits and getting ready I think,” she said.

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Students and overseas workers could help aged care sector deal with coronavirus


Visa holders and students could be used to help boost Australia’s aged care workforce under a proposal to help the sector deal with coronavirus.

Key points:

  • The aged care sector is concerned about a possible shortage of workers as
  • Suggestions include extending the amount of hours of work overseas workers can work in the sector
  • An elderly woman died during an outbreak at a Sydney nursing home

An outbreak of the illness at a Sydney nursing home where one woman died has raised questions about whether providers have enough workers to care for elderly residents, who are especially vulnerable to the disease.

Several staff members at the facility have tested positive themselves while a number of others did not return to work.

Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney said the sector put several new options to the Federal Government during a meeting in Canberra on Friday.

“Currently, we have overseas worker visas that allow people to work up to 20 hours a week in residential aged care, we could extend the hours of work available for those people,” he said.

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“[Also] looking at the regulatory arrangements around general practice and the use of graduates and students in circumstances where additional capacity is required.

“If we have people that are currently being trained in the sector but are not fully qualified, they may be useful to be able to do particular tasks in either the acute sector or the aged care sector or indeed in primary care.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said a number of “novel” ideas would be considered by the Government.

“There have been a range of suggestions that have been pulled together … whether [staff] come in from some outside providers, whether it’s the way we manage the existing workforce,” he said.

“So there’s a range of things that we can work on.”

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The meeting received a briefing from the operators of the Sydney nursing home, BaptistCare, about what it had learned from the outbreak so far.

Mr Rooney said all aged care operators were being urged to take extra steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We’re seeing training being conducted, refresher training conducted across residential care facilities with their staff in regards to infection control, systems and protocols,” he said.

“We’re seeing screening being conducted in facilities, screening of visitors to ensure that all visitors are aware of what the risk factors are and if they believe they have any of those risks that they would not enter the facility.

“And then significant planning with regards to ensuring there’s adequate supplies of masks and gloves and handwash.”

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Eye in the sky: The economic impact of coronavirus is visible in satellite imagery


The new virus that causes coronavirus disease COVID-19 is microscopic in size and easily transmitted within a tiny respiratory droplet — but its impact has been global.

In fact, some of its effects are already visible from space.

Satellite imagery provided by Maxar Technologies shows the global impact of coronavirus — in China, Japan, Iran and more — as usually crowded public spaces are left deserted.

The stark effects can be seen at a diverse range of locations, from the Great Mosque at Mecca in Saudi Arabia to outside the Space Mountain ride a Disneyland in Tokyo.

Coronavirus update: Follow news and developments from across Australia and the globe

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China


Tiananmen Square on Feb 21, 2019 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Tiananmen Square on Feb 11, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

The Great Mosque and Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia


Great Mosque and Kaaba, Mecca on Feb 14, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Great Mosque and Kaaba, Mecca on March 3, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Highway in Wuhan, China


Wuhan highway on Oct 17, 2019 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Wuhan highway on Feb 25, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Your questions on coronavirus answered

Avenue in Wuhan, China


Wuhan avenue on Oct 17, 2019 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Wuhan avenue on Feb 25, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Dongdamen railway station in Wuhan, China


Wuhan train station on Oct 17, 2019 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Wuhan train station on Feb 25, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Toll road in Wuhan, China


Wuhan toll road on Oct 17, 2019 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Wuhan toll road on Feb 25, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China


Location of Leishenshan pop-up hospital on Aug 3, 2019. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Leishenshan pop-up hospital in Wuhan on Mar 4, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Tehran International Airport, Iran


Tehran Airport on Jan 11, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Tehran Airport on Feb 29, 2020. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Space Mountain ride at Tokyo Disneyland, Japan


Crowds at Tokyo Disneyland on Feb 1, 2020. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Tokyo Disneyland on Mar 1, 2020. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Shrine of Fatima Masumeh, Iran


Shrine of Fatima Masumeh on Sep 25, 2019. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Shrine of Fatima Masumeh on Mar 1, 2020 (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

Huoshenshan ‘pop-up’ field hospital in Wuhan, China


Location of Huoshenshan pop-up hospital on Apr 28, 2017. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)


Huoshenshan pop-up hospital on Feb 22, 2020. (Supplied: Maxar Technologies)

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Two more workers from Sydney nursing home test positive for coronavirus


Dozens of people are in isolation, a school has been closed and infections are rising in Sydney’s northern suburbs, which have emerged as the epicentre of the city’s coronavirus outbreak.

Key points:

  • A second staff member at Dorothy Henderson Lodge has tested positive to COVID-19
  • Epping Boys High School was also closed after a student tested positive
  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for calm amid rising infections

There are now 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases in NSW.

The latest case to be diagnosed is an 18-year-old female in Western Sydney.

Two staff members from Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility in Sydney’s north tested positive today.

A third worker at the nursing home tested positive earlier in the week.

Four residents at the lodge have contracted the virus, and one of them, a 95-year-old woman, died earlier this week.

Yesterday parents and children were tested after a group of 17 children from the Banksia Cottage, at Macquarie University campus, visited the nearby nursing home on February 24.

None of those tested positive for coronavirus.

Coronavirus infections in northern Sydney.

Nearby, Epping Boys High School was closed today after a 16-year-old student was diagnosed with coronavirus.

His mother works at Ryde Hospital, where a 53-year-old male doctor was diagnosed with coronavirus.

The school, hospital, aged-care facility and child care centre are all within about 4km of each other.

A total of 117 people have been placed in isolation from the hospital, including 56 patients, while staff and students at the school have been advised to self-isolate this weekend.

A statement from the school read: “To provide time for NSW Health to conduct their contact tracing process the school will be non-operational Friday 6 March, 2020.”

It is the first time a case of COVID-19 has been found inside a school in Australia.

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision to close the school was precautionary, and urged people to remain calm.

“It’s given all of us [and] the experts a breather to assess the situation over the weekend to make a decision on Monday,” she said.

She also said the Government was “doing everything we can to reduce the spread of the virus”.

“We are going to see cases escalate and we are going to see challenges in terms of decisions we take around how to contain and reduce the spread,” she said.

Deputy secretary of education Murat Dizdar said investigations into how the boy contracted the virus were continuing.

“We’re asking that students and teachers isolate over the weekend as we gather more information with further advice that we’ll provide to the school community,” he said.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called for calm while Health Minister Brad Hazzard calls the school closure “sensible”. (AAP: Joel Carrett / Julian Andrews)

The NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard compared efforts to track down those who may have been infected to a “police investigation”.

“We want to do what we can for containment but it’s getting much harder,” he said.

He said closing down the school was “a sensible outcome”.

“We’re lucky it’s so close to the weekend,” he said.

“A good decision has been taken, and some kids will be quite happy they’ve got the day off.”

The Department of Education said it will implement a cleaning program for the school after advice from NSW Health.

While the department has been advised that the risk is low, the cleaning is being conducted to provide additional confidence to students and staff of the school.

A health care worker at Canterbury Hospital tested positive to COVID-19 on Wednesday, having recently returned from Iran.

She worked while she was infectious between February 25 and March 3.

Staff members who were identified as close and casual contacts are all in home quarantine.

A further three contacts are being tested, and a remaining staff member was being followed up today.

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Coronavirus precautions see change of practice for Australian Catholics

Penola 5277

Catholics taking part in church services across Australia this weekend could see their traditions of worship changed due to coronavirus.

Key points:

  • Catholic Bishops have instructed parishes to stop distributing holy communion from the chalice and remove holy water from stoups
  • Other precautions include not shaking hands as a sign of peace but to smile, wave, nod or bow, and to take the communion wafer by hand
  • They also want parishioners to stay away if they’re sick so as not to infect others

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has urged a number of measures to reduce transmission of the virus, including stopping communion being distributed from the chalice and the removal of holy water from stoups.

In a statement, the conference said dioceses and parishes should consider the changes “given the regular assembly of large groups for liturgical celebrations and a number of enquiries from dioceses, parishes and individuals”.

It said churchgoers should consider their own health “including any potential to infect others with a contagious disease” before attending services.

“Holy water should be temporarily removed from stoups at the doors of churches to reduce the possibility of transmission of the virus,” the statement said.

“When exchanging the sign of peace, individuals should avoid shaking hands but offer a smile, wave, nod or bow.

“Parishes should cease distributing holy communion from the chalice until further notice.”

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There was also a recommendation that the communion wafter be given in the hand “because of the high risk of transmission if people continue to receive on the tongue”.

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In South Australia, the Archdiocese of Adelaide has asked that the measures be implemented by Sunday.

Penola parish priest Michael Romeo said one of the protocols priests had been asked to observe was proving more difficult than others to put into practice.

“We’ve been asked to put alcohol-based gels or rubs available at the entrance of our churches, but that’s proving a little difficult because they’re not available at shops at the moment,” he said.


Holy Water will be taken away for the time being. (ABC South East SA: Bec Whetham)

Not such a break with tradition

Father Michael said during the flu season last year he also changed practice.

“I took the initiative myself to stop distribution of holy communion from the chalice,” he said.

“That was just something I discerned myself — I thought ‘ughh’ it’s probably a good idea during this season.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered

He said it was also a good teaching moment.

“Just to make people aware — as Catholics you’re actually not obliged to receive communion from the chalice — it gives us a fuller sign of receiving holy communion,” he said.

“But we still believe we receive the fullness of Jesus in holy communion under the form of the host.”

Father Michael said the removal of holy water from the fonts would be a change of practice for many Catholics, but overall the measures should not be too much of a change.

“Some people will see some of this as an overabundance of caution on behalf of the [Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide], but as Catholics we look to our Bishop for guidance in all difficult matters — especially this one,” he said.

“Hopefully it doesn’t disrupt our worship too much.”

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NSW Health to test children who visited nursing home at centre of coronavirus outbreak


NSW Health says it will be testing parents and children who visited a Sydney aged care facility where an elderly resident died after being infected with coronavirus.

Key points:

  • Brad Hazzard has declared NSW is in “a war with coronavirus”
  • He wants it to be easier to access federal funding to deal with outbreaks in nursing homes
  • The total number of positive cases in NSW rose to 22 on Wednesday night

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a group of 17 children from the Banksia Cottage, at Macquarie University campus, visited BaptistCare’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility on February 24.

Following the visit there was an outbreak of illness at the childcare centre, with one staff member and the partner of another developing respiratory illnesses.

Both were tested and cleared of having the coronavirus.

Mr Hazzard today said there was no indication the children had been infected with the virus or were responsible for infecting the residents at the nursing home.

However, a clinic will be run tonight where all parents and children from the childcare centre can be assessed for coronavirus.

“This is for the abundance of caution because I think it is really important that we understand what viruses are being spread in this childcare centre and what is the cause,” NSW chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant said.

Chris Zheng’s four-year-old daughter attends the childcare centre and he said he would like her to be tested for coronavirus.

“I’m a bit worried … a test will always help,” Mr Zheng said.

Coronavirus news: Follow all the latest updates in our daily wrap

Macquarie University said it had been advised by NSW Health that there was no need to close the childcare centre.

Staff failed to turn up for work at the nursing home after a 95-year-old resident died and later tested positive for the disease, in what was the second coronavirus-related death in Australia.

Two other residents and a staff member have also tested positive.


Several residents at Dorothy Henderson Lodge are now in isolation. (ABC News: Liv Casben)

The aged care staff member had contact with at least 13 residents at the home.

Dr Chant said the staff member was not working the day the children visited.

Matters came to a head yesterday when NSW Health was forced to scramble nurses to the aged care facility.

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Mr Hazzard said he asked his federal counterpart Greg Hunt for emergency funding to cover the cost of nursing staff.

But he said he was told he would need to go through the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority.

“This is now a war, it’s a war with coronavirus,” he said.

“We need to know that the Federal Government’s got our back, and if we make decisions that are nimble, in the interests of patients, in the interests of citizens, and it costs state taxpayers, then the Federal Government will back us on that funding.

“The response I got yesterday indicated a fairly bureaucratic process that we’d have to go through — that’s just not reasonable.”

Tracing the source

On Wednesday night, health authorities updated the total number of confirmed cases in NSW to 22 and was scrambling to ascertain how individuals without recent overseas travel history became infected.

One of the new cases of infection, a 27-year-old female doctor from Liverpool Hospital, was found to have attended a radiology seminar with 77 other medical professionals on February 18.

Another doctor who tested positive to the virus, a 53-year-old man from Ryde Hospital, had gone to the same conference but no other attendees the two doctors had contact with had shown any symptoms of the virus.

At Ryde Hospital, 61 staff have been placed in self-isolation and 56 patients have been identified as close or casual contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

“So we have had tracing going on … these are a bit like a police investigation in sense,” Mr Hazzard said.

Your questions on coronavirus answered

He said the situation was evolving.

“NSW Health is doing everything they can to try contain it, but we do know that containment is an unlikely outcome.”

“Our community has to be doing everything they can do to support us in defeating what has really become a war in defeating this coronavirus.”

He called for better cooperation between the states and the Commonwealth to make sure emergency funding was made available when needed.

The ABC has contacted Mr Hunt and Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck for comment.

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About 100 aged care homes around the country will be audited to make sure they can protect their residents against the spread of coronavirus.

Janet Anderson, the aged care quality and safety commissioner, will oversee the audit.

“We want all of our services … to be compliant with best practice infection prevention and control,” she said.

Health authorities are issuing advice to all aged care facilities to cancel all group visits from childcare centres as a precaution.

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Loo roll limit: Restrictions imposed at grocery chain as suppliers react to coronavirus panic buying

Canberra 2600

Bulk goods supplier Costco has set restrictions on several of its essential goods at its Canberra store as some customers rush to stockpile in response to coronavirus fears.

Key points:

  • People have rushed to buy essential items fearing the spread of coronavirus could impact availability
  • Costco’s Canberra store has implemented restrictions on how much customers can buy of certain items
  • Other chains say they do not have plans to introduce limits to what customers can purchase

The US chain typically encourages customers to buy goods in bulk, but signs at its Canberra store show heavy restrictions on its toilet paper stock, as well as items like eggs, milk and hand towels.

Customers were being told they could buy a maximum of two 48-packs of toilet paper, as stocks at the store dried up.

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The ABC contacted Costco Australia’s media team for comment, but the company’s managing director, Patrick Noone, earlier told The Australian newspaper its Canberra store had indeed run out of toilet paper.

There have been no confirmed, or suspected, cases of COVID-19 in the ACT.

One man made the trip to the Majura Park store after shopping elsewhere.

“Well I’ve just been to Woolworths and they don’t have any toilet paper … so I thought I’d come and have a look here anyway,” he said.

Another who was also bulk-buying at the store said hearing that others had been rushing to the shops spurred him on to stock up.

“Going to buy some bread, long-life milk, biscuits, everything that can last a while,” he said.

A woman said she wanted to buy a few essentials before they sold out and was worried she would not have other time as her husband is in hospital.

“I bought some dried mushrooms, some noodles, some flour,” she said.

“It’s just in case, I [thought I’d come] while I have time to come here.”

No restrictions for other chains


Costco has now put in place buying restrictions on other popular items. (ABC News: Maddi Easterbrook)

Unlike Costco, Australia’s two largest grocery chains said they did not plan to introduce item restrictions.

In a statement, a Woolworths spokesperson confirmed there had been a “sharp increase” in demand for some items.

“[That] has led to partial stock shortages across some of our stores,” they said.

“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience and thank them for their patience.”

They said the focus remained on getting as much stock into stores as possible.

A Coles spokesperson also said the retailer was experiencing a shortage of some items but that the company had “increased the number of deliveries to stores this week to improve availability on popular products”.

“Like many retailers, we currently have a shortage of some antibacterial handwashes and hand sanitiser products due to high customer demand.”

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Toilet paper and disinfectant makers boost production amid coronavirus panic buying

Adelaide 5000

Manufacturers of toilet paper, tissues and hand sanitiser are boosting production to keep up with a surge in demand prompted by coronavirus concerns.

Key points:

  • Images of bare supermarket shelves are widely circulating on social media amid coronavirus fears
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison has met with major retailers to discuss the situation
  • A mill manager in South Australia says production has been boosted to meet demand

Supermarket shelves for essential items have been raided in recent days as nervous buyers stock up across the country — a trend which has been described as “panic buying” and likened to so-called “doomsday prepping”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said he had met with Coles and Woolworths executives to assess the situation.

Mr Morrison said he was “concerned” but was confident supply chains and manufacturers were responding, including Kimberly-Clark, which makes toilet paper and tissues under the Kleenex brand.

“They have now opened up their line of manufacturing in South Australia. I welcome that, and that’s a direct response, having worked with the retailers about what they need,” he said.

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Tung Ngo tweet: A friend sent me this photo at Costco today. A lady with large family at Costco chech-out line.

Adam Carpenter manages Kimberly-Clark’s Millicent mill in South Australia’s south-east, and confirmed production was being stepped up.

“We have seen an increase, it’s still within our normal production capability and capacity, but it is an increase as a response to out of stock [shelves] across Coles’ and Woolworths’ supermarket network,” he said.

“It would be surprising if it does continue. There are people who have potentially brought forward their purchases who want to make sure they have sufficient stock at home of the essentials, such as facial tissue and bath tissue

“I suspect this will just translate into them not buying product later on.

“There are no significant impacts within the mill, we are staffed, and we have enough supply to accommodate increases in demand, even unforeseen increases.”

‘Shock buying’ not panic buying, expert says

Social media is currently awash with pictures of bare supermarket shelves and packed trolleys, but Mr Morrison said the problem was “not as widespread as those images suggest”.

Adelaide hand sanitiser and disinfectant manufacturer Arturo Taverna said he was now pumping out hand and equipment cleaning products under the Dispel brand.


Dispel hand sanitiser and disinfectant made by Arturo Taverna’s company Artav in Adelaide. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Spence Denny)

He said demand had “very much” spiked because of worries about COVID–19.

“We’re talking about container-loads at this particular stage,” he said.

“In particular, what we’re doing at the moment is we’ve got reasonably good orders and the whole question at the moment is we’re finding it difficult to supply.

“There’s more demand than what we expected.”

Mr Taverna has put more people on overtime at his Regency Park factory to keep up with demand, which is coming from within Australia and from China, the Middle East and the UK.

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The company plans to ramp up further next week.

“The disinfectant, which is also being filled at the moment — the blue one — we simply can’t get materials for it,” Mr Taverna said.

Not everyone, however, believes “panic buying” is the best way to describe current consumer behaviour.

“It is happening in all parts of the world including Australia and they’re not panic buying. What they’re doing is trying to prepare themselves for the worst possible situation,” behavioural economist David Savage told The World Today.

“The problem is they are either acting too soon or they are obtaining things that aren’t necessary or they are over-obtaining things which are very important.

“When people do things last-minute, it is not well planned, it is definitely not optimal and they usually over-purchase.”

David Savage discusses so-called panic buying with The World Today's Thomas Oriti.

(The World Today)

Dr Savage said current trends were putting pressure on supply chains, creating a cycle of more and more buying.

“The supply chain isn’t actually capable to quickly adjust to these massive sort of short-term shock buying events … [and] this is why you see cleaned-out shelves,” he said.

“The catch is that it actually prompts other people to think: ‘Oh, maybe I should be doing that too’.”


A sign at a Woolworths supermarket in Adelaide warning about a lack of hand wash. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Spence Denny)

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FIFO worker placed in isolation as WA school travel cancelled in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Perth 6000

The WA Health Department has begun preparing the state’s hospitals to ensure they can cope with a local coronavirus outbreak, which is now considered inevitable.

Key points:

  • The risk of coronavirus spreading in WA is set to rise within weeks
  • Hospitals will be reconfigured and “fever clinics” are likely to be set up
  • International travel by schools to all but three countries has been cancelled

Across the state, the number of intensive care beds is set to be dramatically increased to cater for an influx of coronavirus patients and certain wards or entire wings of hospitals may be set aside to keep infected patients isolated.

Mining company Fortescue Metals Group this afternoon placed one of its employees at the Christmas Creek mine site, 1,130 kilometres north-east of Perth, in isolation after they presented with symptoms requiring testing for coronavirus.

Chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the worker had recently been travelling in Indonesia and their symptoms met the Health Department’s minimum criteria for testing.

“The employee has been isolated pending the outcome of the test, which we anticipate receiving within 48 hours,” Ms Gaines said.

“At this stage we do not anticipate any impact to production schedules and continue to monitor the situation closely.”


WA chief health officer Andrew Robertson says a coronavirus outbreak is “probably inevitable”. (ABC News: James Carmody)

The virus has begun to spread rapidly outside of China and yesterday Australia reported its first cases of infection in patients who had not travelled overseas.

The latest Health Department modelling indicated there would be a higher risk of COVID-19 spreading through WA by late April or mid-May, while August was forecast to be the most dangerous period.

WA’s chief medical officer Andrew Robertson said an outbreak in the state was now “probably inevitable”.

“There are measures that could help delay it, certainly some of the border measures, [plus] self isolation and possibly quarantine if needed,” he said.

“And we will continue to try and contain this disease. But we accept that we have to prepare for the next stage and make sure that our systems are best prepared for the likely pandemic.”

‘We may not have the resources’: Minister

North Metropolitan Health Service chief executive Robin Lawrence has been appointed deputy chief health officer for clinical services, tasked with overseeing the reconfiguration of WA’s hospital systems.


Robin Lawrence has been appointed deputy chief health officer in WA to help prepare for an outbreak. (ABC News: James Carmody)

Many non-emergency elective surgeries are expected to be cancelled and doctors and nurses working desk jobs may be redeployed to treat patients on busy hospital wards.

“I don’t want to sugar-coat it — moving to a pandemic mode is a very serious set of circumstances,” WA Health Minister Roger Cook said.


Roger Cook says the state needs to significantly increase its intensive care capacity. (ABC News: James Carmody)

“We may simply not have the physical resources to deal with this particular outbreak.”

Senior meetings and talks convened

Specialised “fever clinics” and “respiratory clinics” are likely to be established as places where patients with less serious cases of coronavirus can receive more basic treatment, to take the load off hospitals.

“Part of the reason fever clinics may be so important is that we expect about 80 per cent of cases will be mild, and many of these people can go home and just be isolated at home and managed from home,” Dr Robertson said.

What you need to know
Here’s a rundown of all the facts about coronavirus, and how you can make sure you’re protected.

This morning, the state’s most senior public servants from each government department gathered for a Public Sector Leadership Council meeting to plan the wider response to the virus.

Cabinet ministers were also briefed by the chief medical officer to better understand what action could be required under their portfolios.

The cancellation of different public events, such as football games or concerts, and the closure of schools and various industries or workplaces could be ordered in the case of an extreme outbreak.

Tomorrow, Premier Mark McGowan will convene the State Emergency Management Committee, including WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, to plan responses that may be required by emergency services.

Schools cancel travel plans

WA Education Minister Sue Ellery announced international travel by staff and students from public, private and independent schools to most countries would be banned from today until further notice.

An exception has been made for travel to the United States, Canada and New Zealand, but Ms Ellery warned that may be revised if coronavirus became more dangerous in those countries.

“The theory and the principle behind that ban goes to our duty of care while students are travelling,” she said.

“I’ve considered the difficulties for care arrangements for students in an emerging health crisis if, for example, a staff member became ill while travelling.

“I just want to reiterate, this is school-organised trips, this is not people’s private travel that people may choose to take their children on.”

Ms Ellery urged parents to contact schools directly with concerns about recuperating costs of cancelled trips, but she expected insurance policies would cover most bookings.


Education Minister Sue Ellery has cancelled most international trips for school students and teachers. (ABC News: Andrew O’Connor)

Schools across the state have already put overseas trips on hold or cancelled them as a result of the WA Government’s ban.

Shenton College, a public high school in Perth’s western suburbs, had student trips planned to Japan, China and France, but all have been postponed.

The school was still planning to go ahead with a geography, history, politics and law trip to the US in July, and a music trip to Rotorua in New Zealand also in July.

A spokesperson for Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Peppermint Grove said it was no longer processing payments for planned tours to France in April and trips to Cambodia, Stanford University in San Francisco and a Singapore sports tour.

Methodist Ladies College in Claremont sent an email to its students saying it did not know how the coronavirus outbreak would impact a planned European music tour.

“We need to continue to prepare for the tour as best we can in the hope that the arrival of spring in Europe brings good news,” the email said.

“I am afraid no guarantees can be given though. Whatever the outcome, patience and a positive outlook will be required from us all.”

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The WA Education Department said there were no public students currently on overseas tours.

The director general of education had contacted the heads of Catholic Education and the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA) to coordinate a plan for dealing with the virus.

That plan was due to be finalised by close of business tomorrow, but would include measures to support online teaching methods if any schools were required to close.

Ms Ellery stressed the trigger point for the closure of any schools had not yet been finalised, but would not come in the very near future.

The State Government had also cancelled any non-critical state-funded overseas travel by public servants.

Premier Mark McGowan said works to upgrade some emergency departments, including at the Peel Health Campus in Mandurah, would be postponed to ensure hospitals remained operational.

“You have to close off part of it while you do the work, so we’ve deferred that until such time as we’re past this crisis,” he said.

“But the work will happen, it’s just that we want to make sure that we maintain the maximum emergency department capability for the public during this period in time.”

More than 600 tested for coronavirus in WA

Coronavirus testing in WA has escalated to the point where 30 to 40 people are being tested per day, but out of more than 600 tests conducted so far there have been no confirmed cases, outside of those who had been aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The only two infected patients in WA were a Perth couple who were brought to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital under quarantine conditions after they were evacuated from the cruise ship to Darwin.

James and Theresa Kwan arrived at the hospital 11 days ago, but 78-year-old Mr Kwan’s condition deteriorated and he died on Sunday as the first Australian fatality recorded from coronavirus.


Tributes have been paid to James Kwan after he died in isolation at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital. (Supplied: Australian Tourism Export Council)

Ms Kwan, 79, remains in a stable condition.

Mr Cook said the death was a tragic reminder the virus should be taken seriously and urged people to practice good hygiene, regularly washing their hands or using hand sanitiser.

He urged against wasting face masks before their use became a necessity and said there was no need to be panic-buying supplies.

“If people want to continue to buy up water and other products and that makes them feel more comfortable then that’s a good thing, but it won’t actually add any further to your protection,” he said.

Health Department modelling indicates a coronavirus outbreak in WA could last up to 6 to 12 months.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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