We’re going to wrap this up for the evening. Here are the key moments from today:
- A 42-year-old man became the youngest person to die of Covid-19 in Australia. The man was a national of the Philippines and a crew member on the Artania cruise ship. He died in Perth.
- The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has suggested a tracking app for coronavirus could be mandatory but “Plan A” is for it to be voluntary.
- Western Australia has said it will start reopening schools on 29 April.
- A database that reports racist incidents against Asian Australians has received 178 responses in just two weeks since it launched – roughly 12 incidents a day.
- South Australia said it recorded just one new coronavirus case overnight, which its chief public health officer said was “really excellent news”.
- The federal government announced it would spent $165m to underwrite Qantas and Virgin Australia to conduct domestic flights for at least eight weeks.
- The number of people who have contracted Covid-19 in the Anglicare Newmarch aged care home in western Sydney rose to 20 residents and 10 staff.
- Tasmania’s premier, Peter Gutwein, said he is considering strengthening lockdown measures in the state’s north-west.
Stay safe and we will be back with you tomorrow.
The Department of Home Affairs has provided a brief response to questions from Guardian Australia about the Ruby Princess inquiry that will be led by Bret Walker.
“The Department of Home Affairs will cooperate with the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess where appropriate and will not be providing further comment at this time,” a spokesperson said.
From AAP, here is the latest snapshot of Covid-19 cases nationally:
- More than 6,500 Australians have caught the virus and about 58% of them have recovered.
- Australian deaths: 65 (26 in New South Wales, 14 in Victoria, four in Queensland, seven in Western Australia, seven in Tasmania, three in the Australian Capital Territory and four in South Australia). Nineteen were passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
- 29 people connected to Anglicare’s Newmarch House in NSW have tested positive after a worker attended the facility for six days with a sore throat.
- Half of all 4,884 virus tests carried out nationwide during the past 24 hours were conducted in Queensland.
I’ll now be handing over the blog to my colleague Lisa Cox, who will keep you updated for the rest of the evening. Thanks for following along, and stay safe.
The board that regulates Australia’s doctors has told patients to report instances of racist treatment from their doctors during the Covid-19 pandemic, after three instances of discrimination against Indigenous Australians.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency today said there was “no place for racism in healthcare”.
The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association revealed there were three cases in rural New South Wales and Western Australia where doctors refused to treat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients over “racist stereotypes [about] not practising self-hygiene”.
Ahpra is encouraging Indigenous people who have experienced racist or “culturally unsafe incidents of care” to submit a complaint to the agency.
Teachers in WA have criticised unclear aspects of the premier’s announcement today that schools will effectively be open to all students who wish to attend within 12 days.
The president of the State School Teachers’ Union of WA, Pat Byrne, told AAP there should be limits on classroom numbers.
“Schools will have no idea how many students will attend, how many will need online materials or how many will need hard copy packages,” she said. “Planning will be extremely difficult.”
New restrictions were announced today for schools when they return, such as no excursions, and staggered start times so there are fewer students in contact with each other.
In more media news, there are three confirmed parties interested in buying the Australian Associated Press newswire, and the final bids are due in a week.
Some media outlets are jumping the gun, using confusing language to say that rural areas are “Covid-free” and could end lockdown restrictions.
To be clear, that is not the case.
Also earlier today, South Australia announced it had bought 10 new machines that can deliver rapid coronavirus test results in 45 minutes.
The state has invested $600,000 in the machines, and hopes to test 300 people a week, SA Pathology boss Tom Dodd said.
Traditional Covid-19 testing takes about 16 hours to provide a result, AAP reports.
In more cruise news, a ship off the coast of Darwin has agreed to leave, according to AAP.
The Caledonian Sky cruise ship earlier took the government to court after it directed all foreign ships to leave. The ship’s operator, Australia Pacific Touring, took legal action in the federal court saying this was in contravention of treaties on safety of life at sea.
However, the parties settled the matter out of court, with an agreement that the Caledonian Sky leave Australian territory by Tuesday.
The Bahamas-flagged ship is carrying 68 crew members but no passengers.
42-year-old man becomes youngest person to die of Covid-19 in Australia
A crew member from the Artania cruise ship has died in Perth, becoming the youngest person to die from Covid-19 in Australia.
The 42-year-old man was a national of the Philippines and died on Thursday at Royal Perth Hospital.
WA health minister Roger Cook announced the death on Friday. “His family have been notified and were put in contact with that crew member via translators and the shipping company, and they were able to reach out to him in his dying days,” he said.
The Artania is docked in Fremantle but is expected to leave on Saturday.
178 racist incidents reported in two weeks
A database that reports racist incidents against Asian Australians has received 178 responses in only two weeks since it launched – roughly 12 incidents a day.
And Queensland police say there have been 22 incidents of racially motivated offences against Asian Australians in recent weeks. In one case, a 15-year-old girl was charged with allegedly punching a 26-year-old woman in the face in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall after she accused her of having Covid-19.
Victoria police are also investigating video footage of two international students who were punched and kicked on Thursday, allegedly after being threatened over coronavirus fears.
According to the self-reporting survey, the majority of the 178 racist incidents were committed against women (62%) and 86.5% of in-person racist incidents were committed by strangers.
The Queensland police commissioner said racist offences were being underreported to police.
Read the full story here:
The share market has closed higher today, narrowly missing a one-month high.
The ASX200 finished up 71.2 points, or 1.31%, at 5,487.5 – just 0.6 points shy of the one-month closing high set on Tuesday, AAP reports.
New IR rules will be reversed if employers abuse changes, ACTU says
However, McManus said Porter has promised to reverse the changes if employers are found to be abusing them.
“We talk most days,” McManus says. “[Today] he listened to that and said that if it’s true, what we’re saying, and if employers do abuse this, that he is prepared to reverse the regulation.”
She also said workers should just vote ‘no’ on any changes they are given under the new 24-hour deadline.
“If you’re presented with changes and you are given 24 hours’ notice of it, and then to vote, and you haven’t got time to look through it, to seek advice, vote no. You would be crazy to vote yes.
“You would basically be voting to change your conditions totally blind without the benefit of advice from experts, without probably even the ability to talk to your employer properly, let alone your fellow colleagues.”
McManus said employers could still give workers more time – beyond 24 hours – if they did need to make changes.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.
“On one hand, big business is saying, ‘We need to cut the time from seven days to 24 hours’, and on the other hand this pandemic, the big economic consequences for business have been happening for three whole weeks. What have those businesses been doing for the last three weeks? They could have already consulted their workers.”
Sally McManus, the secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has said that industrial relations minister Christian Porter did not consult unions before announcing yesterday’s big employment law changes.
Earlier in this coronavirus pandemic, Porter and McManus achieved an unprecedented level of cooperation.
“I think he [Porter] even described you to The Australian as his new BFF,” says host Patricia Karvelas on the ABC. “Is that relationship now broken?”
“It has been tested,” McManus says. “He made a really bad decision yesterday to make those changes. That’s likely to affect a whole lot of workers in a negative way and we’ve told him that directly. Not only was the decision bad – he didn’t consult us about it.”
Yesterday Porter’s announcement meant that workers would only have 24 hours to decide whether to accept or reject changes to their enterprise bargaining agreements, if their employers tried to change them.
Previously, they had seven days.
SA records one new coronavirus case
SA chief public health officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, says there has been only one new case of Covid-19 overnight. That brings the state total to 435 people, but 76% (331 people) “have recovered fully”.
She says this is “really excellent news”. The state now has 104 active cases.
The new case was a person in their 50s and Spurrier said they were confident they picked it up through overseas travel.