Coronavirus Australia live news: National Cabinet to meet to discuss lifting COVID-19 restrictions, Australia joins ‘first movers’ group

Coronavirus Australia live news: National Cabinet to meet to discuss lifting COVID-19 restrictions, Australia joins ‘first movers’ group

By Bridget Judd

What’s the latest on the Melbourne meatworks cluster?

ABC News: Sean Warren

Yesterday, 13 more cases were linked to a cluster at Cedar Meats — bringing the total to 62 cases.

The ABC’s Stephanie Ferrier has been following the story

“There’s new developments out of this Cedar Meats cluster. The Health Department of Victoria has just confirmed that a student at Marcellin College, a Catholic secondary boys’ school, has tested positive.

“That boy is a household contact of a previously known case involved and connected with this Cedar Meats outbreak.

“However, because of the student was not attending school while infectious, the health department says no further protocols or procedures have to be followed by the college itself.

“Now, we have also had confirmation from WorkSafe Victoria that one of its inspectors is being tested for coronavirus as a result of going to that facility, that abattoir in Brooklyn, in Melbourne’s west, in April.

“Now, that particular inspector is not showing any signs or symptoms of coronavirus but has been tested as a precaution and is self-isolating while awaiting the results. It’s forced five of the inspector’s colleagues to also isolate as well.”

By Bridget Judd

Are meat products still safe to eat?

In light of the coronavirus cluster at a Melbourne meatworks, a lot of people have been asking whether these sorts of products are still safe to eat.

Speaking a short time ago, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told ABC News Breakfast there was no risk.

“Totally safe. Food standards Australia and New Zealand, have through medical advice, made it quite clear the products are safe.

“There’s no risk and we can continue to enjoy the best beef and meat products in the world in Australia.”

By Bridget Judd

Questions from the audience

Seems an obvious question, but is everyone who arrives from overseas tested for the virus before they are allowed to leave quarantine? It seems a few cases have cropped up after they’ve completed their 14 days in a hotel.

-Curious

Morning, Curious — not an obvious question at all!

According to the Australian Department of Health, if you are on an international flight and show signs of an infectious disease:

  

  • the airline must report you to biosecurity officers
  • biosecurity officers will assess you before you get off the plane
  • you may be isolated or referred to a hospital

   

If you are unwell on a flight, you will be identified and referred for assessment when you arrive at your destination.

Beyond that, as you mentioned, when you arrive back in Australia you must undertake a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days at your first port of arrival in Australia.

You won’t be able to travel domestically (including to your home) or continue on any domestic flight connections until the 14-day mandatory quarantine period has been completed. 

What are the chances of some of more restrictive restrictions (say that ten times fast) will be lift today or we more likely to just get an announcement of the plan out and not much else? A lot of people would be hopeful of movement today and have it turn out to be false hope would suck

-Dj Dj

Morning, Dj Dj.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’d probably lower your expectations a little bit —  any movement around restrictions will be slow and deliberate, giving health authorities room to monitor how each change affects infection rates and risk.

The ABC understands changes will likely be introduced four weeks at a time, though ultimately it will be up to the states and territories to determine the timing of when restrictions are lifted in their jurisdictions.

Given we used a postal vote to decide gay marriage, and this decision may be one of the largest in Australia’s history, why aren’t the public being asked in some way to choose between the options for the pathway out of the pandemic?

-Nick

Morning, Nick — it’s an interesting point.

The Federal Government has been pretty clear in saying that any pathway out of the pandemic will be guided by the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee — the key decision making committee for health emergencies.

It’s comprised of all state and territory Chief Health Officers and is chaired by the Australian Chief Medical Officer.

So in the same way you probably wouldn’t ask your accountant to take a gander at your rash, the Government is looking to the expert medical panel (rather than the public) to forge a path out.

By Bridget Judd

ADF assisting Victoria with coronavirus calls

Australian Defence Force personnel are providing assistance, following an increase in coronavirus-related community calls to the Police Assistance Line in Victoria.

   

With the entire state under level three isolation laws to help reduce the spread of the virus, telephone and online reporting to the call centre has dramatically increased to around 1,000 reports per day. 

   

The ADF says it is continuing to respond to each state’s needs, as requested.  

By Bridget Judd

Overweight people at greater risk from coronavirus

Reuters

We’ve heard about the dangers of coronavirus for older people and those with chronic health problems like high blood pressure.

But new research is pointing to evidence that being overweight or obese might also make the impacts of COVID-19 more severe, particularly for those aged under 60.

  

The US Centers for Disease Control now lists people who are severely obese as being at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

  

In addition, data out of China has found that obese and overweight patients were five times more prevalent in the numbers of deaths, while a number of studies across the world have confirmed the risk.

By Bridget Judd

Questions from the audience

That growth factor number keeps going up. Should this be a concern? Seems like the curve is not so flat anymore

-Elliot

Morning, Elliot.

You’re right — for the first time in more than a month, the ‘growth factor’ for COVID-19 cases has risen above one.

However, one thing that has changed since the last time the growth factor was above one is that the number of new cases each day is pretty low.

Catherine Bennett, the chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, says there is definitely still value in watching the growth factor, but the way we should interpret it is slightly different at this stage in the outbreak.

“I think it’ll go above one really easily if we go and find another little cluster, and so that’s something people have to be prepared for.”

    

That’s exactly what we’re seeing right now, with a coronavirus outbreak discovered at a Victorian meatworks over the past few days.

According to Professor Bennett, we should be less concerned if we have new cases that are clearly part of a known cluster of cases. 

Good morning Bridget, Happy Friday. Has the cedar meats cluster gotten out into the community.

-Archie

Morning, Archie.

In relation to those 13 new cases linked to the facility, seven were workers at Cedar Meats Australia and six were close contacts of workers at the facility.

    

Contract tracers are currently investigating the cluster, and the company says all workers are currently self-quarantining. 

While WA has gone eight days without a new case of corona virus. It has the lowest testing rate in Australia. Why ? We need to ramp up random testing

-Concerned

The WA Government has actually recently ramped up some of its testing measures, Concerned.

On Wednesday, they announced they’ll be rolling out COVID-19 testing among fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mining and resources workers who do not have symptoms.

   

The testing among FIFO workers is the second pillar of the DETECT program, which is looking at the prevalence of COVID-19 in key sectors of the WA community.

It’s expected that nearly 30,000 tests will be conducted during the life of the project. 

By Bridget Judd

Commonwealth Bank closes more than 100 branches due to coronavirus

ABC Radio Brisbane: Anna Levy

The “temporary” closures mean about 500 staff are being redeployed to call centres and online operations to help meet demand from people seeking financial assistance.

Since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in early March, CBA had received more than a million calls and online requests for help, the bank said.

  

Calls for hardship assistance have increased by 800 per cent, a spokesperson said.

 “Over the same period, visits by customers to bank branches have fallen more than 50 per cent in some branches as people follow social distancing and lockdown requirements,” the spokesperson said.

By Bridget Judd

The rules have changed: Here’s what you can and can’t do now in Queensland

   

ABC News: Shelley Lloyd

Progressively, restrictions on movements have been gradually relaxed but we are not out of the virus crisis just yet.

  

With the above in mind, here’s what you can do now:

  • You can go shopping for non-essential goods
  • Kindergarten, Prep, Years 1, 11 and 12 go back to school on Monday
  • You can have a picnic with people from your house
  • If you go out by yourself, you can only meet one other person from outside your house for a run or picnic. It can only be the two of you, not your family plus one other
  • You can travel 50 kilometres from your home with members of your house
  • You can visit any business that’s open — like getting your hair cut
  • From Sunday, up to five people from a household can visit another household but hugging is still off the cards (sorry Mum)

By Bridget Judd

France to end lockdown from Monday

Reuters

The transition will be gradual, and some restrictions will remain in place in the Paris region, where coronavirus is still circulating.

In other parts of France, high schools, cafes and restaurants may open from early June if the infection rate remains low. 

French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, says it’s a “new step” in the fight against the epidemic.

“It’s good news for France and the French people. It’s a gradual process that will begin next Monday over the course of several weeks at least, which will allow the country to slowly but surely break out of the confinement we’ve known in  France.”

By Bridget Judd

Australia joins the ‘first movers’ group

AAP

Australia has joined an exclusive group of countries which responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic and are now moving to recover their economies. 

The so-called “first movers” group includes New Zealand, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Czech Republic, Israel and Singapore. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison met via videoconference with the group’s leaders on Thursday night, ahead of Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.

Mr Morrison spoke about the need for an independent review of the response to COVID-19, while other leaders noted the positive update of Australia’s COVIDSafe app.

Reporting by Chelsea Hetherington.

 

By Bridget Judd

What’s the national situation?

There are now less than 800 active cases of COVID-19 across Australia.

It comes as 21 new infections were recorded over a 24-hour period.

Fourteen of those were recorded in Victoria — 13 oh which were identified at a Melbourne meatworks.

   

South Australia broke its 14 day streak of no new infections, after a man in his 70s tested positive to the virus. 

  

WA has now gone eight days without a new case, while New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania recorded six new infections between them. 

By Bridget Judd

National Cabinet unlikely to make rapid changes on coronavirus restrictions

ABC News: Matt Roberts

National Cabinet is unlikely to make quick changes to restrictions when it meets today to chart a roadmap out of the coronavirus crisis, the ABC understands.

When changes are made, they will come in four-week increments to gauge their impact on the number of infections in Australia.

  

The premiers, chief ministers and the Prime Minister are determined not to inadvertently allow a second wave of major infections by lifting restrictions haphazardly.

  

But, on the firm advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), National Cabinet is expected to agree to a clear framework to allow Australians to understand how the next few months will look.

By Bridget Judd

Happy Friday…

Good morning, I’m Bridget Judd and I’ll be bringing you the latest updates throughout the morning.

As always, flick through your questions and we’ll try and answer them when we can!

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