There’s a lot of information to take in with the coronavirus pandemic, as the situation is rapidly changing.
Over the past 24 hours in Australia there have been some pretty significant developments, so let’s take you through what happened.
Australia’s coronavirus cases have soared past 5000 and the death toll has risen to 24 after Victoria and Queensland announced three more deaths today.
As of Thursday afternoon there were 5128 confirmed cases, including 2298 in NSW, 1036 in Victoria, 838 in Queensland, 385 in South Australia, 392 in Western Australia, 71 in Tasmania, 87 in the Australian Capital Territory and 21 in the Northern Territory.
A woman in her 60s is the latest victim of the virus, dying overnight in a Melbourne hospital.
Six people have now died in Victoria after another woman in her 70s also died overnight and Queensland recorded its third death after an 85-year-old man died in Toowoomba.
WHAT WE KNOW
Around one million Australian families will be eligible for free childcare, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new plan today to help out parents.
He said anyone who had a job was considered “essential” and that child care played a critical part in keeping all parents who still had jobs in that work.
Under the plan, the government will pay half the reasonable fee cap to centres for the next six months as long as they remain open and don’t charge parents any fees.
The funding will start from April 6 and will cover enrolments as they stood in the fortnight leading up to March 2.
Education Minister Dan Tehan later gave further details on the child care package, saying parents only needed to have an existing relationship with the child care centre to qualify.
“So they don’t have to be working?” ABC host Patricia Karvelas asked.
“No. If they’ve got an existing relationship with the centre and their children are attending that centre, then they’ll get it for free under this arrangement,” Mr Tehan said.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller announced that restrictions on public gatherings would be in place for at least another 90 days.
The laws came into effect on Tuesday, meaning they will be in place until June 29.
Mr Fuller also urged people to dob in their neighbours, or anyone they see breaking social distancing rules.
“If you see people congregating, particularly drinking in the park or backpackers who are international travellers … please report it and we will respond,” he said.
“The community are reporting people who are breaking these isolation laws.
“There’s lots of people who do believe in isolation and do understand it.”
Mr Morrison also revealed that Australia has become the first country in the world to test 1 per cent of its entire population for the coronavirus.
“Australia has now reached a testing rate of more than 1000 tests per 100,000 population. That is 1 per cent of the population. We are the first country, to the best of our knowledge, that has been able to exceed that mark,” he said.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Though Australians are now living with strict social distancing and isolation rules that are enforced with tough fines, it still isn’t clear whether the country was in a “lockdown” phase.
Mr Morrison urged against using the term lockdown today, revealing the country will be living with the current restrictions and social distancing measures until at least October.
“By putting restrictions in place we have to be able to live with them every day,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
“Some organisations advocated much stronger measures. I said to be careful what you wish for, because we will have to live with it for at least six months.”
Mr Morrison said he didn’t want to see Australians become so frustrated with the guidelines if they were tightened further, “that they might otherwise walk away from the measures that we already have”.
“This is a partnership between governments and the public,” he said. “It is a partnership to do things that are sustainable.”
He said he wanted the community to understand “that we need to be in this for the long haul”.
The PM first cautioned against using the word “lockdown”after a National Cabinet meeting with the state and territory leaders on Friday, saying the word creates “unnecessary anxiety”.
“I don’t want to give people the idea that that is going to be the place we might get to, where people can’t go out and get essential supplies, that they can’t get the things they need to actually live life for the next six months,” he said.
“So, when we talk about potential other restrictions, there is no need for people to rush out and cram supermarkets and do things like that, because of other restrictions that may become necessary.”