Australians will soon know whether schools and universities will be closed tomorrow to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state leaders are currently meeting chief medical officers at a national coronavirus cabinet meeting.
Mr Morrison is set to give a media conference at 2pm AEST.
Authorities have not ruled out placing every Australian citizen in lockdown, as the coronavirus pandemic evolves.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the new national cabinet was formed to deal with extreme measures like that, with all options being considered.
“There are no options that are off the table,” Mr Hunt told the ABC today.
“The paramount goal and the Prime Minister said this to me at the outset is protecting health.”
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said lockdowns had proven successful overseas and would be considered here.
“Everything is up for consideration,” Professor Murphy said.
“The premiers and the Prime Minister said to us, the health advisers, ‘give us your fearless advice and we will take it’.”
Professor Murphy took a swipe at the Victorian chief medical officer’s advice to stockpile a fortnight’s worth of staples.
“I think that that’s a little bit premature at the moment,” he said on Insiders.
“We don’t want to encourage major panic buying at the moment. We’ve seen that with the supermarket chains.
“I think it is probably sensible to have a few days of supply.”
Mr Hunt and Professor Murphy said handshakes were okay for the time being.
Australians who have not recently returned from overseas or been in contact with a coronavirus case can still shake hands, go on public transport or visit the cinema but that advice is likely to change.
Professor Murphy said “at the moment” health officials were not suggesting people should stop using public transport.
“As the situation evolves, every day we meet as the experts for two or three hours and we’re looking at the case numbers (and) the evidence,” he told the ABC.
Asked if people should go to the movies Professor Murphy said the risk was “relatively low at the moment” as Australia only had 250 confirmed coronavirus cases.
“The move to reduce mass gatherings is a pre-emptive move,” he said.
“The epidemiology is evolving but as the case numbers increase we’re likely recommending increased numbers of social distancing.”
Professor Murphy said it was also okay to go to the gym.
“I think the gym is fine but everybody at the moment needs to practise very good hygiene,” he said.
“If you’re going to the gym, I would be very focused on hand washing, using hand sanitisers, all of those social distancing, good hygiene measures, we want everybody to start practising those and to think about how we will do social distancing in future.”
Professor Murphy said if you’re over 70 and had an underlying medical condition you should also consider social distancing measures.
Mr Hunt said in general overseas travellers were the key target for social distancing measures.
“At the moment, we are strongly suggesting that returned travellers should practise what we call social distancing,” he said.
“So that’s keeping a distance of 1.5m, if possible, from people, not getting in close contact – so not shaking hands, avoiding all public gatherings.”
But Mr Hunt said that advice “will change”.
“As we get more community transmission (it will change),” he said.
“We are now in a phase of promoting broader social distancing.”
At least 250 Australians have tested positive for the virus so far.
TRUMP TESTS NEGATIVE FOR VIRUS
US President Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus, according to a statement from the White House.
Mr Trump’s physician, Dr Sean Conley, confirmed in a memo to the White House that the US President had tested negative and was symptom free “one week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation in Mar-a-Lago”.
At a press conference earlier, Mr Trump told reporters at a White House briefing that he had his temperature taken and it was “totally normal,” shortly before stepping into the room to discuss the government’s efforts to halt the spread of the virus.
Mr Trump revealed he had taken the test after being exposed to two individuals who have tested positive for the virus.
The US President had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have since tested positive for the virus, including three people he spent time with last weekend at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
The Brazilian Embassy in Washington said that the country’s charge d’affaires, Nestor Forster, tested positive after sitting at Mr Trump’s dinner table.
So, too, have a top aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took a photo with Mr Trump and attended a party with him, and another person who attended a campaign fundraiser with the president.
The White House is stepping up efforts to try to keep the virus at bay. On Saturday, the White House announced that it is now conducting temperature checks on anyone who is in close contact with Mr Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, including reporters who attend a White House briefing and anyone entering the Oval Office.
Before Saturday’s briefing, a member of the White House medical team took the temperature of all journalists wishing to attend. One of them was excluded after a high reading.
Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump self-isolated after her exposure to Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton as the White House sought to downplay the threat to its most senior members.
Ms Trump and Attorney-General Bill Barr worked from home and were not planning to go into a 14-day self-isolation.
It came as Europe took unprecedented steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus after it became the “epicentre” of the pandemic.
Spain has gone into lockdown and France has started sweeping shutdowns of businesses across the country.
The United States has extended its Europe travel ban to include the UK and Ireland. Residents will not be allowed to the US for 30 days beginning at midnight on Monday eastern time (2pm Tuesday AEDT). Those bans do not apply to Americans abroad.
Mr Trump capped off a tumultuous week with a White House address that bolstered Wall Street’s biggest one-day jump since 2008.
He declared coronavirus a national emergency and dedicated a potential $US50 billion ($78 billion) towards the fight.
FRANCE GOES INTO LOCKDOWN AS DEATH TOLL SOARS
France has gone into lockdown with all non-essential public locations to close as the coronavirus death toll rises to 91.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced that all places that are not essential to French living, including restaurants, cafes, cinemas and clubs, will be closed for the foreseeable future, starting at midnight on Saturday (local time).
“Markets and food shops, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, newspaper and tobacco stores will remain open,” Mr Philippe said. “Places of worships will remain open, but religious ceremonies and gatherings will be postponed.”
“We have seen too many people in cafes and restaurants. In usual times, this would make me happy. Because this is the France we all love. But for a few weeks, this is not what we should be doing,” Mr Philippe said.
Italy’s 60 million people are effectively housebound until at least April as the country frantically tries to slow its devastating coronavirus spread.
The country’s hospitals are in crisis, with only 20 spare intensive care beds in the hard hit Lombardy region, according to the La Repubblica newspaper, and the death toll there climbed by 175 to 1,441.
Meanwhile, Syria, which has not had any reported cases, has postponed elections in the war torn country.
Spain will follow Italy’s lead, locking down the entire country from 10pm AEDT Sunday for 15 days as the country’s confirmed cases exceed 10,000, with 193 people dead.
Some flights from the UK to Spain were turned around midair as non-essential travel was strongly discouraged.
Qatar and Dubai were planning to stop issuing visas, while Jordan cancelled all international flights.
Norway announced it was closing its airports from 10pm AEDT on Sunday, while Greece has shut schools and shops and banned all flights from Italy until March 23.
Berlin and Cologne have closed bars, shops and restaurants, with each regional area in Germany responsible for making decisions about its restrictions.
WHERE AUSTRALIA IS RUNNING OUT OF THE CORONAVIRUS TEST
Less than two months after the coronavirus became a public health emergency in Australia we are dangerously short of the reagent needed to carry out tests for the killer virus.
News Corp understands that stocks of this reagent are under pressure in Western Australia and Queensland.
While other states such as South Australia have around a month’s supply.
The chemical is held by public pathology labs, private pathology labs as well as key scientific organisation such as the CSIRO.
However, News Corp understands that the bulk of the supply is made by a single pharmaceutical company – Roche.
The chemical is imported into Australia and supplies worldwide are dwindling as coronavirus spreads and it is needed by multiple laboratories.
The countries that make the reagent are keeping the supplies they have for their own coronavirus testing.
This outcome has yet again highlighted Australia’s dangerous over reliance on foreign countries for pharmaceutical supplies.
In a statement in its website Roche said it does not manufacture medicines in Australia, and “none of the medicines we supply to Australian patients are manufactured in China”.
“Globally, we are assessing our supply chains and our suppliers’ supply chains for components and raw materials sourced from impacted countries, including China, as we determine the coverage and potential impact due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As of now, we have not identified any critical component that would affect our ability to supply medicines in the near future, based on current demand forecast.”
The company said its global manufacturing sites adhere to specific pandemic plans and guidance, including preventive measures to reduce infection risks and social distancing measures to minimise social contacts.
“These sites also abide by comprehensive global hygiene and gowning standards and processes to safeguard against potential contamination or cross-contamination.”
“As a leader in diagnostics, Roche is committed to providing testing solutions for the world’s most challenging healthcare emergencies. We are delivering as many tests as possible, within the limits of supply.”
Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy said the government was “working very hard now to make sure we have enough testing equipment for that eventuality.’’
“We are doing a lot of work to procure and expand our testing capability,“ he said.
“We are focusing our testing on returned travellers or contacts of people who are symptomatic.
“We don’t want people with an ordinary mild cold in Australia to go and get tested. We need to preserve the testing for those who need it,” Professor Murphy said.
Health officials have been appealing to people who are unlikely to have the coronavirus not to present for testing to preserve the tests available for those most likely to have the virus.
The government only wants people who have recently travelled overseas or recently been in contact with a coronavirus-infected person to present for testing if they have the symptoms of coronavirus which include sore throat or a dry cough.
Roche Diagnostics Australia told News Corp the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for the cobas SARS-CoV-2 Test which runs on the cobas 6800 and is available in selected laboratories across all Australian states.
“These are extraordinary times and our teams have been working day and night across the globe to ensure the test is developed and made available in affected countries as quickly as possible.
“We can confirm that the test will be available in Australia by the middle of next week. We have changed our warehouse and supply chain operations to ensure no time is wasted. Everything is on urgent delivery,” said Allison Rossiter, Managing Director, Roche Diagnostics Australia.
“We will continue to supply tests on an ongoing basis determined by demand, however it is important to reiterate Professor Brendan Murphy’s recent communication to healthcare professionals, reinforcing the importance of testing appropriate individuals.”
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) South Australia president and chair of the AMA’s national ethics committee Dr Chris Moy said there had been variable levels of pandemic planning across Australia states.
“We need to be doing testing on appropriate people so we don’t use it up faster,“ he said.
Part of the problem was that the criteria for testing was continually changing leaving GPs confused, he said.
A rush on testing occurred after Health Minister Greg Hunt said last weekend that anyone who was worried they had the coronavirus should get tested.
He said it was better to over test than under test but later Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy changed the advice and said only those who had either travelled recently or been in contact with a coronavirus case needed testing.
Dr Moy said the situation with the testing kits underlined yet again why Australia needed a single national centre for disease control to manage the outbreak of infectious diseases such as coronavirus.
The need for testing kits might abate once the coronavirus infection spread more widely throughout the community, he said.
Once that happened we would no longer be trying to identify infected individuals and trace their contacts and would be concentrating on treating those who were sick.
When this happened we would be identifying the sickest people by X-raying their lungs to see whether they had pneumonia and needed hospitalisation, he said.
US HOUSE PASSESS CORONAVIRUS BILL
The House easily passed a bipartisan coronavirus aid package early on Saturday morning local time after intense negotiating between Democrats and the Trump administration.
The bill passed 363-40, with 40 Republicans voting against it.
The “Families First coronavirus Response Act” would secure free tests for all Americans — even the uninsured — and mandatory two weeks of paid sick leave for those affected by the health crisis.
The sweeping package also provides up to three months of paid family and medical leave and strengthened unemployment insurance to brace for workers who could be laid off during the pandemic.
“(The legislation) is focused directly on providing America’s families, who must be our first priority,” Nancy Pelosi said before the vote. “The three most important parts of this bill are testing, testing testing.”
US President Donald Trump had until Friday night opposed the legislation, arguing earlier in the day that he wanted more sacrifices from Democrats — namely, for a payroll tax cut to be included in the bill.
But the Mr Trump came around later in the evening, saying he “fully” supported the package in a series of tweets urging both parties to vote in favour.
“This Bill will follow my direction for free coronavirus tests, and paid sick leave for our impacted American workers, Trump tweeted.
“I have directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor to issue regulations that will provide flexibility so that in no way will Small Businesses be hurt.”
The Senate is expected to take up the legislation next week.
The 2020 Super Rugby season will be suspended from Sunday night, but SANZAAR officials are still hoping a finals series can be staged in June.
The coronavirus crisis forced organisers to make the unprecedented call late on Saturday night, releasing a statement saying: “SANZAAR believes it has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches for the foreseeable future.”
Sunday’s Brumbies vs Waratahs clash in Canberra is set to be the final match of the year.
NEW YORK RECORDS SECOND CORONAVIRUS DEATH
Meanwhile, coronavirus has claimed two lives in New York. A woman with underlying respiratory issues died in a New York City hospital, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.
“We had last night a death in a New York City hospital of an 82-year-old woman who had coronavirus. She came into the hospital on March 3,” he said. “She contracted the coronavirus on top of emphysema, then she passed.”
New York now has 524 positive cases, an increase of 100 from yesterday, with 117 patients now in hospitals.
“We did 700 tests,” Gov. Cuomo said.
A 65-year-old man from Suffern, in Rockland County northwest of New York City, died on Thursday, county officials said. The county’s chief medical examiner said the man, who was not identified, had “significant health problems” that likely contributed to his death.
Testing capacity is going up, and more cases are being investigated by “disease detectives.”
New York State now has more cases than any other state in the US, with the number of newly confirmed infections surging past Washington state, once the epicentre of the outbreak.
New York’s “numbers are spiking because our testing capacity is going up,” Gov. Cuomo said, adding New Yorkers will see 1000s more cases next week.
Dr Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, said the current number of official coronavirus cases in the US was likely a gross under-representation of the true scale.
“Don’t believe the numbers when you see, even on our Johns Hopkins website, that 1600 Americans have the virus. No, that means 1600 got the test, tested positive. There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed.
“I think we have between 50,000 and half a million cases right now walking around in the United States,” he told Yahoo Finance.
SPAIN TO GO INTO LOCKDOWN
Spain is set to follow Italy in declaring a nationwide lockdown as European countries took ever more sweeping measures to reduce contact among people and slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus.
China, meanwhile, where the virus first emerged late last year, continued to relax lockdown measures in its hardest-hit region.
According to a draft of the government order seen by The Associated Press, Spain’s government planned to announce tight restrictions on movement for the nation of 46 million people while declaring a two-week state of emergency.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was due to address the nation in the afternoon.
People will be allowed to leave their homes only to buy food and medicine, commute to work, go to hospitals and banks, or take trips related to the care of the young and the elderly. Those rules will take effect at 8am (6pm Monday AEDT) oon Monday.
Effectively immediately, Spain is also closing all schools, universities, restaurants, bars and hotels nationwide along with non-essential stores, a step some regions have already taken.
Health authorities in Spain said the number of coronavirus infections climbed past 5700, half of them in the capital, Madrid.
That represents a national increase of over 1500 in 24 hours.
The country had 136 deaths, up from 120.
Spain has the fifth-highest number of cases, behind China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. By Saturday, more than 145,000 infections and over 5400 deaths had been recorded worldwide.
Europe has now become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, with countries imposing a cascade of restrictions in an effort to prevent their health systems from collapsing under the caseload.
Spain’s measures to date, though, had fallen short of those ordered by Italy, the worst-hit European country, where the number of cases climbed to over 17,600, with 1266 deaths.
The government in Rome has ordered an unprecedented lockdown, ordering businesses to close and restricting people’s movement.
Mayors of many Italian cities, including Rome and Milan, decided to close public playgrounds and parks.
Under a decree issued earlier in the week, people had been allowed in parks as long as they kept at least a distance of 1 metre between each other.
Denmark closed its borders and halted passenger traffic to and from the country, a measure that was due to run through April 13.
Travellers will be turned away at the border if they are unable to show that they have “a legitimate reason” to enter – for example, if they are Danish citizens or residents.
“I know that the overall list of measures is very extreme and will be seen as very extreme, but I am convinced that it’s worth it,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
Poland planned to close is borders at midnight and deny all foreigners entry unless they lived in Poland or had personal ties there.
Non-citizens allowed in will be quarantined for 14 days.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia took similar action.
Lithuania said it was introducing border checks at the frontiers with Poland and Latvia for 10 days and was considering banning foreigners from entering.
Russia said its land borders with Norway and Poland will be closed to most foreigners beginning on Sunday.
ITALY ‘LIKE A WORLD WAR’ AS DEATH TOLL SOARS
Italy recorded 250 coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period — the most in the country in a single day — as the number of COVID-19 fatalities there reached 1266, according to official data.
The country also recorded more than 2500 new cases of the virus in that period, bringing the total to more than 17,000.
A nurse in northern Italy said that fighting the virus was like being in the middle of “a world war.”
Countries that are overwhelmed will have a fatality rate between three and five per cent, he said.
The reason that faster, tougher action is needed to contain the virus was that the world’s health system will be unable to cope, he said.
The US did not have nearly enough hospital beds or face masks to cope with a full scale outbreak of the virus. Australia is already rationing access to the coronavirus test, trying to preserve them for those most likely to have the virus because we don’t have enough tests to meet demand. And states are scrambling to source extra ventilators to keep people with severe forms of the virus alive.
Members of the public have also expressed concern that Australia was not taking tough enough action at our borders.
Travellers returning to Australia this week said they had not been approached by any border control officials to give them information about the coronavirus nor had their temperatures been tested.
ANOTHER CABINET MINISTER TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS
A second Cabinet minister was tested for the deadly coronavirus before Peter Dutton was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Sunday Telegraph has confirmed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg fell ill late last week after attending the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Saudi Arabia in late February.
Mr Frydenberg said he was tested for the virus on Thursday but received a negative result on Friday morning, before fellow minister Peter Dutton returned a positive test. Both ministers attended a Cabinet meeting in Sydney on Tuesday where senior ministers agreed to a stimulus package to stave off a recession.
Late Saturday night AEST Mr Frydenberg told The Sunday Telegraph he was taking antibiotics and resting, but did not need to self isolate.
Labor has questioned why the public was told to isolate if they came into “close contact” with a coronavirus case when ministers were continuing to work. On Saturday the Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said “close contact” was defined as “face-to-face contact for at least 15 minutes” or being in the same enclosed space as someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 for at least two hours when that person was infectious.
Despite his poor health, Mr Frydenberg will unveil a new coronavirus Business Liaison Unit to support employment and business on Sunday.
The new unit will be staffed by officials from across the public service who will provide up to date information to business groups on the Government’s response to the coronavirus.
Mr Frydenberg said it would allow critical information to be disseminated quickly and effectively across the business community”.
STUDY SAYS GOVERNMENTS MUST ACT HARDER AND FASTER
A new analysis suggests governments need to act faster and take even stronger action to reduce social interaction to control the coronavirus, well beyond the shutdown of large-scale events imposed from Monday.
Countries that act fast to shut down social contact can reduce the number of deaths from COVID19 by a factor of 10, Stanford University graduate Tomas Pueyo has calculated. And days and hours can make an enormous difference.
Mr Pueyo has studied the epidemiology of coronavirus by looking at case numbers in Italy, China and Europe.
The true number of cases of the virus is likely to be five times higher than official data suggests, he warns.
“Delaying action will mean in two to four weeks, when the entire world is in lockdown, when the few precious days of social distancing you will have enabled will have saved lives, people won’t criticise you anymore: They will thank you for making the right decision,” he warns world leaders.
Part of the problem is that the official number of cases is far lower than the true number of cases in the community he says.
When the Chinese government shut down Wuhan there were just 400 official cases but in reality there were 2500 new cases that day he found.
Two days later when China locked down 15 other cities, cases started to go down within just two days, his analysis found.
Officially case numbers in China continued to rise but these people had been infected in the week before the shut down started.
He warns Europeans have been too slow to act.
“With the number of cases we see today in countries like the US, Spain, France, Iran, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden or Switzerland, Wuhan was already in lockdown,” he said.
The difference between acting quickly and acting slowly can be seen in the contrasting death rates between the Chinese province of Hubei and the rest of China, Mr Pueyo says.
“Hubei’s fatality rate will probably converge towards 4.8 per cent. Meanwhile, for the rest of China, it will likely converge to 0.9 per cent”.
“Iran’s and Italy’s Deaths / Total Cases are both converging towards the three to four per cent range. My guess is their numbers will end up around that figure too,” he said.
SCIENTISTS CLOSER TO CORONAVIRUS VACCINE
A team of Canadian scientists has successfully isolated and grown copies of the coronavirus — bringing the world a step closer to finding a vaccine to fight the deadly illness.
Researchers from the Sunnybrook Research Institute, the University of Toronto, and McMaster University were able to isolate and replicate the virus in a lab using samples taken from two Canadian patients.
The lab-grown copies will now be able to help scientists study the pathogen to develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, vaccines, and gain a better understanding of its biology, the team said in a statement.
“Now that we have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the agent responsible for COVID-19), we can share this with other researchers and continue this teamwork,” D. Arinjay Banerjee, NSERC postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University, said.
“The more viruses that are made available in this way, the more we can learn, collaborate and share.”
“We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic,” Dr Samira Mubareka, microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook, added.
“While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus.”
Meanwhile, eight institutes in China are working on five approaches to inoculations in an effort to combat COVID-19. Chinese officials say it could result in a vaccine ready for emergency situations and clinical trials next month.
BAZ LUHRMANN GOES INTO SELF-ISOLATION
Baz Luhrmann has revealed he has gone into isolation after Tom Hanks and his wife were diagnosed with coronavirus on his film set in Queensland.
The Australian film director, whose movie on Elvis was stalled while in pre-production on the Gold Coast, said he was in isolation for 10 days.
Hanks and wife Rita Wilson contracted the virus this week.
Luhrmann took to social media to thank Queensland Health for their “tremendous support”.
He said he and his family were “healthy and well”.
APPLE TO CLOSE FOR TWO WEEKS
It comes as Apple stores around the world are set to close their doors for two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The technology giant announced all retail stores outside of Greater China will shut until March 27 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said he firstly wanted to recognise Apple’s family in Greater China.
“Though the rate of infections has dramatically declined, we know COVID-19’s effects are still being strongly felt,” he said.
“As of today, all of our stores in Greater China have reopened.”
Mr Cook went on to say the best way to minimise the risk of the virus spreading further was to “reduce density and maximise social distance”.
Apple will allow for flexible work arrangements for office workers worldwide with deep cleaning, health screenings and temperature checks occurring at office sites.
Retail workers will continue to receive payment in alignment with business and usual operations by expanding leave policies and accommodating for families affected by COVID-19.
Furthermore, Apple will donate US$15 million ($A24 million) to help treat those affected by the pandemic at a community and economic level.
ARDERN’S TOUGHEST BORDER MEASURES TO STOP VIRUS
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is taking the world’s toughest border security measures to stop the coronavirus from spreading, after she declared all international arrivals – including returning Kiwis – must self-isolate for a fortnight as the country locks down to ward off the spread of coronavirus.
Ms Ardern announced the measure on Saturday after an emergency meeting of cabinet.
“We do not take these decisions lightly,” she said.
“New Zealand will have the widest-ranging and toughest border restrictions of anyone in the world.” Ms Ardern said the measure applied to people, and not goods, though gave an exemption to people arriving from the Pacific – a region largely devoid of the virus.
The decisions will take effect as of midnight NZDT on Sunday. New Zealand has just six cases of the disease to date, and none that have been transmitted through the community.
Ms Ardern also announced cruise ships would not be allowed to dock in New Zealand until June.
The decision will be reviewed in 16 days.
To illustrate her point, she used a graphic that has gone viral around the world which explains how we can reduce the spread of the virus.
The graphic, titled ‘Flatten the curve’ explains the need for social distancing measures as confusion about the seriousness of the virus grows.
Earlier on Saturday, the government announced the cancellation of a national remembrance service in honour of the Christchurch mosque attacks, which took place on March 15 last year.
The immediate status of NRL season faces fresh fears following the New Zealand government’s decision to force all international arrivals to self-quarantine for a fortnight beginning midnight on Sunday (NZT).
The development has prompted the Warriors, who are currently in NSW facing Newcastle in their season-opener, to hold emergency talks with NRL officials at 5pm on Saturday afternoon (AEDT).
“Cameron George (CEO) says the club is awaiting more details about travel restrictions just announced by the Government in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Warriors said in a statement on Saturday.
Australia’s one-day international series against New Zealand has also been abandoned after the New Zealanders had to rush home due to coronavirus precautions.
The New Zealand government announced Saturday that all incoming passengers would be subject to a 14-day quarantine, from midnight Sunday.
“A consequence of this is that we need to get our team back to New Zealand before the restriction is imposed, meaning it will not be able to participate in the two remaining Chappell-Hadlee fixtures,” a New Zealand Cricket spokesman said.
Australia won the first match on Friday at the Sydney Cricket Ground by 71 runs, with no spectators in the stadium. The second match was set for Sunday, also at the SCG, and the third next Friday in Hobart.
The teams were scheduled to play three Twenty20s against each other in New Zealand, starting from March 24, but those have also been called off. “NZC believes both these series can be replayed in their entirety at a later and more appropriate date,” the spokesman said. “NZC understands and supports the government’s position. This is a time of unprecedented risk and peril, and the personal health and wellbeing of our players is paramount.”
WE’VE BEEN TESTED, WHY NOT SCOMO?
A well known Queensland lawyer Deb Kilroy has revealed she and her friend were on the same plane as Peter Dutton and have had tests for coronavirus. She took to Twitter asking why she’s also had to be quarantined, unlike others including the Prime Minister, who are not being tested at all.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES SUSPENDS OPERATIONS
The nation’s biggest cruise ship company has announced it will suspend operations across Australian-based ships for at least a month in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Carnival Cruise Line on Saturday announced it would suspend operations across Australian-based ships until at least April 13.
Two ships currently at sea will continue their voyages before returning to Sydney as scheduled.
SECOND NEWBORN TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS
Another newborn has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking what appears to be the second such case as the pandemic worsens.
The London infant’s mother was rushed to a local hospital days before giving birth over fears she had contracted pneumonia, The Sun reported on Friday local time.
Her coronavirus test came back positive only after she had given birth; her baby was tested minutes later.
They are being treated at separate hospitals as health care professionals investigate whether the baby contracted the illness while in the womb or after birth, the outlet said.
Back in early February, another infected mother in China gave birth to a baby who was also confirmed to be infected, the BBC reported at the time.
And a very young child, an 18-month-old boy in Hong Kong, has also tested positive for the virus after both parents had tested positive, according to a report released on Thursday.