- NSW Premier confirms easing of social restrictions
- Secret Service agents in White House test positive
- 5.4 million Australians get COVIDSafe app
- Russia reports 11,000 cases in 24 hours
Sick people with flu-like symptoms must be turned away from any shop or workplace if they refuse to take personal responsibility and stay home when unwell.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said he would “protect” and “defend” any employer or business owner who refused entry to someone who was visibly sick during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If one of your colleagues or an employee or a client turns up, you have every right to say, go away, I am not going to let you in, I am not going to treat you … unless you’re a doctor, of course,” he said.
Prof Murphy said people needed to take responsibility for their own actions and change the “mentality” of pushing through an illness.
“Everyone has to practise staying at home when you are unwell,” he said.
“All of us over our lives have been, on occasions, wanting to soldier on with a cold and a flu-like illness.
“We cannot do that anymore.”
Australia’s’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has warned that personal responsibility is vital in the battle to eradicate COVID-19. Picture: Getty Images
Prof Murphy said while the current advice was for people to continue to work from home where possible, experts were preparing strategies for the expected increase in public transport use as the economy reopens.
“Public transport authorities have introduced a very enhanced cleaning, we need to have hand sanitiser available,” he said.
“One of the most important things is to reduce the density … social distancing is not possible when you are crowded.
Prof Murphy said health officials were “keen” for employers to look at staggered start and finish time.
“I think we have to think about a very different way of people may be starting at work, some starting at seven o’clock (through to) 10 o’clock and people finishing at different times,” he said.
“We have to think differently about that so there is a lot of planning going.”
Australia’s coronavirus tally has increased by just 14 cases to 6,941.
There have been no deaths in the last 24 hours and 14 people are currently on ventilators in intensive care.
Prof Murphy said his key message as restrictions eased was for Australians to continue to take “personal responsibility” for social distancing so younger people did not put the vulnerable population at risk.
“It is those mobile, fit adults, the people from 22 to 70, in the main, some in the 70s as well … that is the age group that is transmitting this virus,” he said.
“That is the group that we have to make sure we control the virus in.”
Prof Murphy said the 97 deaths in Australia from coronavirus were overwhelming very elderly people.
“People have said to me, why don’t you just protect really carefully all those with chronic conditions and the elderly,” he said.
“(But) as we have seen already, that’s just not possible, if you’ve got widespread community transmission.”
Prof Murphy said because the virus was “incredibly infectious” it would be inevitable the disease would spread to aged care, which could cause “terrible problems”.
“So we can’t allow significant community transmission if we want to protect our elderly,” he said.
Prof Murphy said relying on police and other authorities to enforce social distancing would never be as effective as people simply deciding to follow the rules themselves.
“It is as much about the rules and regulations as it is about personal responsibility,” he said.
“So if you are going to a shopping centre to buy something, go and buy something, but don’t hang around the shopping centre for half-an-hour mingling for no purpose. Go home.”
He said if people did not behave “in a way that is respectful of social distancing norms”, Australia could again see widespread transmission of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders agreed on Friday to a three-step plan to restart business and community activities. However, the states and territories are set to move through the three stages at different speeds, depending on their health situation and local conditions.
‘NONSENSE’: COVID-19 MISINFORMATION SLAMMED
Professor Murphy also hit out as “silly misinformation” following a protest in Victoria where some attendees pushed information that 5G technology was causing the spread of the coronavirus.
“Unfortunately there is a lot of very silly misinformation out there,” he said.
“There is absolutely no evidence about 5G doing anything in the coronavirus space. I have unfortunately received a lot of communication from these conspiracy theorists myself. It is complete nonsense. 5G has got nothing at all to do with coronavirus.”
Anti-lockdown protesters hold placards on the steps of Victoria’s state parliament in Melbourne. Picture: AFP
Prof Murphy added authorities wanted to understand how the virus transmitted so rapidly as calls grow for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
“We have seen lots of what we call zoonotic viruses (those that come from an animal species) in the past,” he said.
“We have seen avian flu, we have seen SARS, we have seen MERS. But almost none of them developed this capacity to spread rapidly from human to human like coronavirus.
“So we want to understand what animal that came from. Was there an intermediate (host)… How it mutated, so that it could spread across humans. Obviously everybody wants to know what are things that each and every country could have done better to stop this widespread pandemic.”
Hundreds of people gathered to protest the state’s tough lockdown laws as well as 5G, vaccinations and coronavirus being a hoax. Picture: AFP
He said Australia had received a lot of medical information about COVID-19 from China.
“The Chinese medical and scientific community has been readily sharing information and collaborating scientifically over the last few months,” he said.
“I think they will continue to do so, they are reporting to the WHO, as are we, and the WHO is going to do this scientific investigation and I hope it becomes a scientific and health -based investigation looking at lessons to be learned.”
AUSSIE INFECTION RATES RISE AS GLOBAL CASES SOAR
A dozen more Australians have contracted the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.
Ten of the new cases were in Victoria and two were in New South Wales.
Six states and territories recorded no new cases.
“All of this means that we are achieving things beyond what anybody had dared hope or talk about six, eight weeks ago,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday.
“It’s Australians that have done this.
“Our health professionals, but also over 25 million Australians who have been extraordinary.”
Chadstone Shopping Centre is packed with customers. Picture: Alex Coppel.
The total cases nationwide stands at 6929 with 97 deaths.
It comes as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the easing of social restrictions from Friday, as reported earlier by The Sunday Telegraph, but warned that people should maintain social distancing measures.
NSW has recorded two new cases in the past 24 hours, with Ms Berejiklian describing it as an “outstanding result”.
Florists were busy with customers for Mothers Day flowers in Sydneys Mosman and Cremorne. Picture: Matrix
“Please maintain the vigilance,” Ms Berejiklian said at this morning’s media conference.
“Even a scratchy throat, an ache or a pain, any flu-like symptom should be treated as though you have got the virus. So, please, make sure you get tested.”
The state will enter stage one of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s three-step road to recovery.
Cafes and restaurants can also reopen to seat up to 10 patrons, and five people will be allowed to make a home visit.
Shoppers flock to Melbournes Chadstone Shopping Centre. Picture: Alex Coppel.
The new easing of restrictions will also allow 10 guests at weddings, and up to 20 mourners at indoor funerals and 30 at outdoor funerals.
Up to 10 worshippers can attend religious gatherings and places of worship, while outdoor equipment such as children’s playgrounds and gyms can be used “with caution”.
Mr Hunt said people were still coming back from overseas, which is why Australia has mandatory quarantining.
“So we can’t pledge while there is an international situation that there will be zero cases in Australia,” he told Sky News today.
“But we can fight to find every case.”
He said that was why the testing and the tracing regime was so important and why more people needed to download the COVIDSafe app, while the health system now had 100 million masks and 7500 ventilators to help it cope with cases “We now have the capacity to meet all of the foreseeable scenarios in Australia,” he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed the easing of restrictions. Picture: AAP
States and territories have started easing the COVID-19 restrictions after a three-stage plan was agreed by the national cabinet on Friday, with the aim of full implementation by July.
It is up to the state and territories when they implement each stage. Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said the virus situation was at a different level in different parts of the country.
“It makes complete sense that different states are then going to respond at a different pace depending on where the virus is in their own region,” he told ABC television’s Insider program.
Even so, Mr Hunt warned people must still show caution when they go about their day-to-day activities.
“The discipline we’ve shown is the discipline we must maintain,” Mr Hunt said. “As we move back to work some things cannot change, which is safety of distance, the importance of hygiene and the ability to focus on the fact that if we are ill we shouldn’t be near people.” Some jurisdictions have been quick to move on stage one of the road map out of the crisis, but NSW is also set to allow cafes and restaurants to re-open for up to 10 patrons from next Friday among a series of restrictions being lifted. Victoria too is due it announce its changes on Monday.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says people must still show caution when they go about their day-to-day activities. Picture: AAP
South Australia will start opening up regional travel and allow caravan and camping, which Premier Steven Marshall believes will be a first for the nation. “We have only got one shot to get this right,” he told Sky News. “We want to get people back to work. We want to get them back to work as quickly but as safely as possible.” Deputy Chief Medial Officer Paul Kelly has warned people to take care when visiting their mums on this Mother’s Day, particularly if they are elderly. Some states are allowing families to visit their mums on Sunday. “If you are feeling sick yourself, do not go and visit your mum. Please don’t.” Professor Kelly advises.
“If you are feeling well and you really want to see your mum, I’m sure it is fine. But for elderly mums just be a little bit cautious and probably keep that 1.5 metre distance for now. I know it is hard and we all want to cuddle our mums on Mother’s Day.”
SECRET SERVICE AGENTS HIT WITH VIRUS
Eleven members of the agency charged with protecting US President Donald Trump, the Secret Service, have tested positive to COVID-19.
And at least 23 other agents have tested positive and recovered and another 60 are in quarantine.
“To protect the privacy of our employee’s health information and for operational security, the Secret Service is not releasing how many of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19, nor how many of its employees were, or currently are, quarantined,” the Secret Service told Yahoo in a statement.
The virus, which has now killed more than 78,000 Americans, has made a full frontal assault on the White House.
And the global infection rate passed 4 million early today.
One of the President’s valets tested positive, as well as Katie Miller, a press secretary for Vice-President Mike Pence and wife of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller. Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant also has tested positive.
White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller and wife Katie Miller. Picture: AFP
Neither the Department of Homeland Security nor the Secret Service would comment on which staffers had been infected or whether they were assigned to work in proximity with the president or the vice president.
The president, vice president and those in close contact with them are tested daily, an administration official said this week. Both have tested negative.
“We have put in place the guidelines our experts have put forward to keep this building safe,” White House press secretary Kaleigh McEnany said.
“All of the recommended guidelines we have for businesses that have essential workers were now putting in place here in the White House, so as America reopens safely the White House is continuing to operate safely.”
UK’S VISITOR QUARANTINE AS AUSSIES TOLD ‘WAIT TO CUDDLE MUM’
The British government has told airlines it will introduce a 14-day quarantine period for most people arriving from abroad to try to avoid a second peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
It comes after Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has given more details on the COVIDSafe app and his advice on how to celebrate Mother’s Day after Queensland recorded an incredible result against the virus.
Airlines UK, which represents British Airways, Easyjet and other British airlines, said the British quarantine period required “a credible exit plan” and should be reviewed weekly.
Airport operators said it could have a “devastating” impact on the aviation industry and the broader economy.
The quarantine plan was first reported by The Times newspaper, which said Prime Minister Boris Johnson would on Sunday announce that passengers arriving at airports and ports, including Britons returning from abroad, will have to self-isolate for a fortnight.
Under measures that are likely to come into force in early June, travellers will have to provide the address at which they will self-isolate on arrival, The Times said.
“These measures will help protect the British public and reduce the transmission of the virus as we move into the next phase of our response,” The Times quoted a government source as saying.
A British Airways plane sits on the apron at Bournemouth airport in southern England. Picture: AFP
Johnson’s Downing Street office and the interior ministry declined comment. Johnson is due on Sunday to announce the next steps in Britain’s battle to tackle the novel coronavirus following a review by ministers of measures that have all but shut the economy and kept millions at home for more than six weeks. The airport operators said a quarantine would compound damage done by the pandemic to the aviation industry as it would put people off travelling when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“Quarantine would not only have a devastating impact on the UK aviation industry, but also on the wider economy,” said Karen Dee, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association.
“If the government believes quarantine is medically necessary, then it should be applied on a selective basis following the science, there should be a clear exit strategy and the economic impact on key sectors should be mitigated.” Airlines UK said it would seek assurances that the move is “led by the science” and that airlines would need support measures to ensure the aviation sector gets through the quarantine period.
The Times report said travellers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man would be exempt from the quarantine, as would truck drivers bringing crucial supplies.
It said the authorities would carry out spot checks and those found to be breaking the rules would face fines or deportation.
5.4 MILLION GET COVIDSAFE APP, ‘WAIT TO CUDDLE MUM’
Prof Kelly said 5.4 million had downloaded the app so far, as seven out of eight states have signed up to the app, enabling Australians’ data to be accessed.
“By Monday everyone will have signed and just a couple of steps to go through to allow the data to be used by the states and territories,” he said.
“The first one was an agreement and essentially that about using it in the manner it is meant to be used and the way that we have had our discussion with the Australian
people about privacy, security and only using the data for the purpose for which it is being collected.
“The second one is a small training module which has been rolled out as well all of the states and territories that have signed up.
“And that will be available to all when they have signed.”
Older Australians have been told to be cautious about having people to their homes despite COVID-19 restrictions being eased in some states and territories this weekend.
Prof Kelly said people over 70 remain at greater risk of the virus.
“For people over the age of 70 I just would say be cautious over these next couple of weeks, even if things are opening up and people are gathering in shops and cafes,” Prof Kelly said.
“I would just urge caution about your own health and consider …having people over to your house.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly. Picture Gary Ramage
Speaking ahead of Mother’s Day, Prof Kelly also warned elderly mums to continue to keep 1.5 metres away from loved ones.
“If you’re feeling well and you really want to see your mum, I’m sure that’s fine but for the elderly mums just to be a little bit cautious and probably keep that 1.5 metres distance.”
“I know it’s hard and we will want to cuddle our mums on Mother’s Day…but let’s just wait a little bit longer.”
Prof Kelly said Australia’s “new normal” may not be the same as life before the pandemic hinting that overseas travel and mass gatherings are “too far in the future” for the National Cabinet to consider.
“The third step is not quite back to normal as it was before COVID-19, and I think we’ve been quite open about this from the beginning that the new normal, the COVID-safe normal for Australia, may not be the normal that we’re used to prior to January of this year.”
“For example, the opening of the borders to international travel, that’s so far into the future we aren’t really sure how that might actually happen yet.” He also said he was “doubtful” football fans would pack sporting grounds in September for football finals.
OBAMA SLAMS COVID-19 RESPONSE
Former President Barack Obama has described President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis as an “absolute chaotic disaster.”
The former president told supporters in a leaked video chat, “What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life.”
Audio of the call with alumni from his administration was first obtained by Yahoo News.
“It would have been bad even with the best of governments,” Obama continued, referring to coronavirus.
“That’s why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden.”
Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Picture: Getty
So far the United States has been the hardest-hit country in the world, although its per capita death rate is far below that of the UK and Europe.
The remarks were some of Obama’s harshest regarding his successor in the Oval Office. Since leaving Washington, he has generally steered clear of firing direct hits at Trump — something that is expected to change.
Insiders told The New York Post last month that Obama was desperate to inject himself into the 2020 fray on behalf of Joe Biden and would become far more critical of the president in the coming months.
RUSSIA OVERWHELMED WITH NEW CASES
Russia now has the fifth-highest number of infections, with nearly 200,000 COVID cases.
It registered more than 10,000 new infections in the last day, the sixth in a row at that level.
Yet Russia claims it has only recorded 1827 deaths – in stark contrast to European countries with similar numbers of cases, including Italy, the UK, France and Spain.
The crisis led Moscow to cancel May 9 celebrations of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
Russians celebrate Victory Day on their balcony. Picture: AP
The festivities would have crowned a historic political season in Russia, including a symbolic referendum to amend Russia’s constitution and reset leader Vladimir Putin’s term limits, allowing him to remain in the Kremlin until 2036.
Instead Mr Putin is ruling from a bunker, as falling oil prices crater the economy, and the crisis places his political schemes in limbo. The day’s festivities were moved mostly online, and a parade replaced by a flypast.
VIRUS INVADES WHITE HOUSE
US Vice President Mike Pence may be forced to quarantine after one of his staff members tested positive for coronavirus — a day after it was revealed a valet to President Trump had tested positive.
The news comes as the US recorded its worst ever monthly joblessness result in April, with 20.5 million jobs lost in that month and the unemployment rate soaring to 14.7 per cent.
And experts quoted by CNN claim China’s real unemployment figure is probably over 10 per cent – or 80 million people out of work.
Mr Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller got her results on Friday local time just before Air Force 2 was set to takeoff for Iowa. She is married to Stephen Miller, a top White House adviser who writes speeches for President Trump.
Katie Miller (left), White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Picture: AP
According to The Sun, pool reporters noted on Friday morning that Air Force 2 was being held on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews for close to an hour.
It eventually took off with Vice President Pence, but only after a few staff members disembarked from the aircraft.
A White House source initially told The Sun that an unspecified staff member linked to someone who boarded the flight tested positive for COVID-19.
Katie Miller with husband Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser. Picture: AP
It was later revealed by reporters that the staff member who tested positive for coronavirus was part of Mr Pence’s team and early today it was reported that press secretary Katie Miller was the person infected.
“She’s a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time, then all of a sudden today she tested positive,” Trump told reporters, according to the New York Post.
“She hasn’t come into contact with me. She’s spent some time with the vice president.
“So she tested positive out of the blue. This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great. The tests are perfect but something could happen between a test where it’s good and then something happens and all of a sudden. She was tested very recently and tested negative and then today I guess for some reason, she tested positive. Mike knows about it and Mike has done what he has to do.”
Trump added that “it could happen anywhere,” but that he’s not worried.
“I’m not worried, no, I’m not worried. Look, I get things done, I don’t worry about things,” Trump said. “I do what I have to do. We’ve taken very strong precautions at the White House and we’re dealing with an invisible situation.
US Vice President Mike Pence may be placed under quarantine after one of his staff members tested positive for COVID-19, a day after a Trump valet also tested positive. Picture: AP Photo
This news comes one day after it was learned that one of US President Donald Trump’s valets had tested positive for COVID-19.
In the wake of this news, it was announced that the White House would start rapid testing all staff members.
Mr Trump says he is frequently tested for coronavirus and will soon undertake an antibody test which could show if he has already had the virus.
He said staff would be tested every day from now on, as the valet had been tested four days prior and returned a negative result.
The President said some White House staff have “already started” wearing masks. Mr Trump has not worn a mask in public but claimed he wore one “backstage” during a visit to a Honeywell face mask factory in Arizona.
TRUMP OFFERS BIDEN COVID-19 TESTING KIT
Mr Trump said on Friday that he is willing to provide Joe Biden, his presumptive Democratic opponent, with a rapid COVID-19 testing system so Mr Biden can return to the campaign trail.
Mr Trump, who this week made his first trip out of Washington in more than a month, relies on a federal supply of coronavirus tests so that he can maintain a more traditional schedule, while Mr Biden has been isolating at home for nearly two months.
Hillary Clinton at a 2016 rally with Mr Biden. Picture: AFP
In a telephone interview with Fox & Friends, Mr Trump said he would be willing to provide the former vice president with the same coronavirus tests he uses.
“Yes, 100 per cent. I’d love to see him get out of the basement so he can speak,” Mr Trump said, needling Mr Biden for holding virtual campaign events and media interviews from a studio in his home.
US UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HIGHEST SINCE GREAT DEPRESSION
The US unemployment rate hit 14.7 per cent in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression, with 20.5 million jobs vanishing in the worst monthly loss on record since the government began tracking the data in 1939.
The figures are stark evidence of the damage the coronavirus has done to the economy.
The coronavirus lockdown wiped out nearly all the positions created in the prior decade in the world’s largest economy, the US Labor Department reported.
The unprecedented collapse drove the unemployment rate to 14.7 per cent, well beyond the peak hit in late 2009 during the global financial crisis, from 4.4 per cent in March.
People wait in line to receive food at a food bank in Brooklyn, New York City. Picture: Getty Images/AFP
In China, Beijing’s official employment data does not include people in rural communities or a large number of the 290 million migrant workers who work in construction, manufacturing and other low-paying but vital activities.
If those migrants are included, as many as 80 million people could have been out of work at the end of March, according to an article co-authored last month by Zhang Bin, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank run by the government.
Other experts told CNN the 80 million figure is likely much closer to reality. It’s also a lot more disturbing — it would mean that nearly 10 per cent of people in China who are supposed to be employed are actually out of work, according to economists at Société Générale.