March 16, 2020 00:24:24
Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas will to be forced to self-isolate for 14 days after the Australian Government’s border control measures came into effect.
Australia’s coronavirus-related death toll has also risen to five after NSW health confirmed two elderly women who died last week tested positive for COVID-19.
This story is updated throughout the day. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Sunday’s key moments
Australia’s coronavirus death toll rises to five
New South Wales Health has confirmed that a 77-year-old woman and a 90-year-old woman who died in the past two days both tested positive for COVID-19.
The 77-year-old woman was a Queensland resident who became ill on a flight to Sydney.
The 90-year-old woman was a resident of Dorothy Henderson Lodge, in Macquarie Park in north-western Sydney.
All arrivals to Australia must self-isolate
Anyone who arrives into the country from overseas must now self-isolate for 14 days after strict border control measures came into effect at midnight AEDT.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the measures on Sunday morning as part of a plan to restrict the spread of coronavirus.
It’s a similar measure to that announced by New Zealand on Saturday.
Mr Morrison said cruise ships would also be banned from arriving to Australian ports for at least 30 days.
“We’re going to have to get used to some more changes in the way we live our lives over the next six months or so,” the Prime Minister said.
“There will be further intrusions, there will be further restrictions on people’s movement and their behaviour.
“But the point is, you do it in a timely way, you do it in a managed way, you do it in a careful way.
“Just because something is not necessary today, doesn’t mean it won’t be necessary in three weeks from now or three months from now.”
The 14-day self-isolation does not apply to flight crews or for people travelling from Pacific Island states who transit through Australia.
Harsh penalties for those who don’t self-isolate
Queenslanders who have been told to self-isolate for coronavirus-related reasons will be fined $13,000 if they don’t comply, the state’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
The Premier also confirmed there would be random police checks of the more than 3,000 Queenslanders who have gone into home quarantine.
Queensland now has 61 case of COVID-19, up from 46 a day ago. Schools in the state will remain open tomorrow.
Meanwhile New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she expects residents to report people who do not self-isolate after returning from an overseas trip.
Ms Berejiklian acknowledged the policy would be hard to police and would require “a degree of public goodwill … because there’s no way that we’ll be able to attend to every single example of somebody getting off a plane”.
“Please note also that if you’re in a workplace and you know that someone’s coming to work when they’ve been recently overseas, let us know,” she said.
“Make sure that person knows that it’s not acceptable.”
University of Queensland suspends classes
The University of Queensland has advised students that teaching at the institution will be suspended for one week, after a second student was confirmed to have coronavirus.
Vice-chancellor Peter Hoj sent a message to students on Sunday night saying all coursework at the university — including online and in-person lectures and tutorials — would be paused from Monday, March 16 until Monday, March 23.
Professor Hoj said teaching would resume after the academic calendar was adjusted and a majority of coursework was made available online.
“This is a big call, and one I have not taken lightly,” his message to students said.
“With the confirmation this afternoon from Queensland Health that another student has been confirmed with COVID-19, I encourage you to adhere to the Government guidelines on social distancing and healthy hygiene habits.”
“We understand Queensland Health are commencing contact tracing.”
The university’s campuses will remain open, including libraries and eateries and staff will continue to work during the class suspension.
On Sunday night, the University of New South Wales said a student had tested positive for COVID-19 and had gone into self-isolation, but was not contagious while on campus.
Twitter: @unsw #CORONAVIRUS: A @UNSWbusiness student has recently tested positive for COVID-19. They immediately went into self-isolation in line with health guidelines. @NSWHealth advised
Woolworths suspends online deliveries in Victoria
The supermarket said it was experiencing high levels of demand for its delivery service and it was suspending orders “until further notice”.
“We understand the decision to suspend delivery services out of Victorian stores will be incredibly frustrating for our customers and apologise for the inconvenience caused,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.
“We’re currently processing refunds on existing orders for customers.”
Richard Wilkins tests positive for coronavirus
Australian television personality Richard Wilkins has tested positive for coronavirus.
Nine News reported the network’s entertainment editor and Weekend Today host had tested positive for the virus, after being in close contact with actress Rita Wilson.
Wilson and her husband Tom Hanks tested positive for coronavirus last week, and both are currently in isolation in Gold Coast University Hospital.
Twitter: @9newsyd #BREAKING: A much-loved member of the 9News team, Nine Entertainment Editor and Weekend Today Host Richard Wilkins has tested positive to coronavirus. #9News
Tasmanian schools to adopt social distancing measures
Tasmanian schools have been asked to cancel assemblies, excursions and travel plans as part of precautionary measures put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.
School camps, fetes, parent-teacher meetings, sports carnivals and other non-essential school activities will be required to be postponed, with the restrictions in place until further notice.
The precautionary measures also extend to fairs, concerts with audiences and presentation nights.
In a statement, the Tasmanian Government said it had been advised the closure of schools was currently not required, however it will continue to take advice from Public Health as the situation continues to evolve.
Vivid festival cancelled
Sydney’s annual Vivid festival has been cancelled in an effort to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Following recommendations by the Federal Government to limit gatherings to less than 500 people, the NSW Government announced this morning it would cancel the festival.
The event was scheduled to go ahead from late May to early June.
Last year a record 2.4 million people attended Vivid, which sees Sydney’s Circular Quay and the Opera House lit up. It also attracts international artists in music, arts and theatre.
In a statement, NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the decision was not taken lightly but, as the event owner, the Government needed to act on advice from health officials.
“There will be some costs that the government won’t be able to recover but we’ve made this decision early to try and reduce those,” Mr Ayres said.
What the experts are saying about coronavirus:
Going to gym, cinema ‘fine’: Murphy
Speaking alongside Health Minister Greg Hunt on the ABC’s Insiders program this morning, chief medical officer Brandan Murphy gave an update on the Government’s coronavirus measures.
Dr Murphy said the country was in a phase of “broadening” social distancing.
However, he said social gatherings, such as going to the movies and working out at the gym, were still fine as the risk in Australia was still “relatively low”.
He also said using public transport was still OK, but the general public needed to be extremely vigilant with hygiene practices.
“We’ve only got 250 cases,” he said.
“The move to reduce mass gatherings is a pre-emptive move. But as the case numbers increase, we will likely increase measures of social distancing.
“The gym is fine, but everyone needs to practice very good hygiene.”
Dr Murphy said health experts and leaders would spend Monday and Tuesday working on a more “nuanced interpretation” of the social-distancing measures.
Yet, he and Mr Hunt both said, a “complete lockdown” in the future was not off the table.
Qantas crew member tests positive
Qantas says an international crew member is in self-isolation after testing positive to coronavirus.
The crew member flew from the UK to Australia as a passenger and experienced mild symptoms.
Qantas says the team member was not symptomatic when operating as crew on any flights.
Authorities are contacting those who sat close to the crew member on the flight.
Anthony Albanese wants the Government to ‘get this right’
@AlboMP tweet: WATCH: My address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic. Labor will approach this in the spirit of bipartisanship. But as we’ve seen overseas, the earlier and the faster the response, the better the outcome. More can and should be done – and there’s no room for delays.
The Opposition Leader has delivered a televised address about the Government’s coronavirus response.
Mr Albanese said the Government had made a “good start”, but that “more can be done and should be done”.
“I do want to assure you that we approach this in a spirit of bipartisanship. We will be constructive. We will support the Government to protect the health of Australians, but also to protect their jobs and our economy,” Mr Albanese said.
“There is now no room for delays. We want to see the Government get this right because people’s lives and their jobs depend on it. We want to ensure there is substance, not spin.”
Nike to close Australian stores to limit coronavirus spread
American apparel company Nike has announced it will be closing all of its stores in the United States and several other countries, including Australia.
Nike stores in Canada, western Europe and New Zealand will also be closed as part of measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus.
At this stage, the stores will be closed between March 16 and 27.
“We are taking additional steps in other Nike-managed facilities, including the option to work from home,” the company said in a statement.
A Nike employee in the Netherlands tested positive to COVID-19 earlier this month, causing the footwear giant to temporarily close its European headquarters.
Cases to ‘double’ in six days, biosecurity expert says
Scientists estimate Australia will have double the number of coronavirus cases within the next six days if the status quo continues, a biosecurity expert says.
Professor Raina MacIntyre from the University of New South Wales said social distancing was the key to minimising the spread of COVID-19.
“The scientists have estimated that what we call the doubling time of coronavirus epidemics is six days, which means that in six days we will have double the numbers that we had today if we do nothing,” she said.
“So we do have to make decisions quickly and be decisive.”
Professor MacIntyre said hand-washing and other hygiene practices, along with social-distancing measures, such as staying away from crowded places and avoiding unnecessary travel were very effective.
“Social distancing measures have been used throughout history from the black plague,” she said.
“We used them in the 1918 pandemic and delayed the pandemic coming for a year.
“So I think everyone is going to have to become mentally prepared to change the way we live for the medium term until this pandemic is over or under control.”
Ms MacIntyre said social distancing was particularly important among young people who “have the most intense transmissions”.
“They may not get the sickest with this virus but they transmit more intensely because they mix more intensely in certain situations.”
US expands travel ban, Trump test clear
The White House has confirmed that the ban on travel to the US from many European countries will be extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland, following the rise in coronavirus cases there.
Under the restrictions on European travel, American citizens, green card holders and others are still allowed to return home to the US, but will be funnelled to 13 airports and be subjected to health screenings and quarantine orders.
“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” US President Donald Trump said.
US Vice-President Mike Pence said the new travel ban for the UK and Ireland would begin at midnight on Tuesday local time.
Mr Trump originally exempted Britain and Ireland from his 30-day ban on travellers from 26 European countries that took effect at midnight on Friday.
More than 800 people in Britain have tested positive for the virus and more than 20 have died from COVID-19, the disease it causes.
Mr Trump also said he had taken a test for coronavirus.
On Sunday morning Australian time the White House confirmed the test had come back negative for COVID-19.
Meanwhile. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews questions why Australia has not implemented travel bans on the US.
“I think that arrangements similar to New Zealand will absolutely be on the agenda,” he said.
Spain, France announce shutdowns
The Spanish Government has ordered the country’s 47 million people to stay in their homes for the next 15 days as coronavirus cases surge.
Residents will only be able to leave to buy essential goods, go to work or attend medical appointments, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told the nation in a televised address this morning.
The restrictions will remain in place for an initial 15 day-period but could be extended.
Closures of bars, restaurants and hotels, already in place in certain regions, were extended to the entire country.
“We have only one objective which is to defeat the coronavirus,” he said. “We are all on the same team.”
Health authorities in Spain have reported 6,023 people infected with the virus, of which almost 3,000 are in the capital, Madrid.
That represented a national increase of more than 1,500 in 24 hours, the authorities said.
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the closure of all non-essential business.
Banks, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and newsstands will remain open, but the Government says all restaurants, cafes and movie theatres must close.
The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the country jumped to about 4,500 — doubling in 72 hours.
World case numbers
Here are the latest world numbers on COVID-19:
Worldwide cases: 156,112
Worldwide recovered: 73,995
Worldwide deaths: 5,829
China cases: 80,990 – deaths: 3,203
Italy cases: 21,157, deaths 1,441
Iran cases: 12,729, deaths 611
Spain cases: 6,391, deaths 195
France cases: 4,480, deaths 91
Germany cases: 4,585, deaths 9
USA cases 2,726, deaths 54
UK cases: 1,143, deaths 21
March 15, 2020 06:45:49