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Australian News

Coronavirus fears prompt AMA ACT to warn Canberra fans not to attend Raider’s NRL game


Updated

March 13, 2020 12:38:47

The head of the ACT’s peak body for doctors is urging people not to attend the Canberra Raiders season opener tonight — at odds with advice from the Government encouraging people to “enjoy themselves”.

Key points:

  • Canberra recorded its first case of coronavirus yesterday, meaning COVID-19 is now Australia-wide
  • The Australian Medical Association is urging people to avoid large gatherings
  • But the ACT Government says people should enjoy themselves while they can

Australian Medical Association (AMA) ACT president Antonio Di Dio said this morning that Canberrans needed to exercise caution and avoid social contact amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We need to be ahead of the curve not behind it,” Dr Di Dio said, adding that “good leadership is about making painful decisions that people hate, and making them early”.

“Scientific data tells us that in all the epidemics over the years, going back as far as 1918, large gatherings were a huge problem in the early stages,” he added.

“There is no formal agency — neither the NRL yet or the Government yet — telling the Raiders to tell fans to keep away … and yet, I think it’s the right thing to do.

“I’ve been looking forward for months to tonight’s Raiders game and I’ve been a member for many years and I bleed green … but there’s a chunk of Bay 54 that will be missing my family tonight and it’s very, very sad.

“But my goodness me, it’s better to be safe than to take unnecessary risks.”

The National Portrait Gallery have taken this advice onboard, cancelling tonight’s launch of the National Photographic Portrait Prize.

In a statement, Portrait Gallery director Karen Quinlan said the winner of the prize would still be announced on their website at 7:00pm.

“I know this is a disappointing development, but the health of my staff, our visitors and the wider community is of utmost importance,” she said.

“We are following the advice of health professionals, who have recommended the cancellation of all large gatherings of people.”

The gallery remains open.

Government and AMA offering conflicting advice

On ABC Radio Canberra this morning, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said Canberrans should be enjoying themselves while they can.

“We don’t have that community transmission, so this weekend, I think that advice stands,” she said.

“Of course, COAG is meeting today and it is possible that the Council of Australian Governments will change that and come up with a national position.

“But, at this point in time, our advice for Canberrans is that this weekend, get out and enjoy yourself, particularly because this situation could change quickly.”

The Office for Multicultural Affairs also this morning issued a statement which said that “the ACT Government is not considering cancelling any planned public events”.

But Dr Di Dio reinforced that “we do need to take some action, and it’s much safer to err on the side of caution”.

His advice is consistent with that of other medical professionals, who have been critical of the Federal Government’s hesitation to ban large public gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Victorian AMA president Julian Rait was leading the call for major sporting events like the Grand Prix to be cancelled.

“History indicates in the acceleration of an epidemic if large public gatherings are contained, it’s more likely you’ll be able to reduce the spread of infection and the consequent fatality rate,” Associate Professor Rait said.

“The unfortunate lessons of history are such while it’s all very well to believe things are contained in the context of viral outbreaks, often things behave very differently.”

This morning, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews decided there would be no spectators at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne due to concerns about coronavirus.

In addition to the Grand Prix crowd cancellation, Australia’s One Day International series against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Cricket Australia announced that two matches would be played in an empty Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday and Sunday, with a third match scheduled for next Friday at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena.

The World Cup-winning women’s team have had their South Africa tour suspended.

So what should Canberrans do?

Dr Di Dio has urged “social distancing” wherever possible.

“It might be a few days early, but it’s still the right time to avoid social interaction as much as possible,” he said.

“It is another level. It is true that being cautious early, and sensible early, might be interpreted as causing panic, but it’s also bloody sensible.”

However, the ACT Health Directorate is still advising that only those who have returned to Australia from mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, or those who have been in close contact with a person who has been confirmed with COVID-19, should self-quarantine.

If you fit this criteria, the preferred walk-in centre for assessment is in Weston Creek, and you should “ensure you use a mask and hand sanitiser available at the front door”.

The consistent message is that “focusing on good hygiene practices, especially hand hygiene, will reduce your risk of getting sick and help to prevent the spread of germs”.

People should also avoid touching their face, particularly their mouth and eyes.

The ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, said that “now is the time for us to remain calm and come together in the community”.

“We have been practising and preparing for this for many weeks now,” she said.

“I can reassure everyone that the hospital and our health staff are very well prepared for this.

“We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the ongoing safety of staff and patients.”

ACT records first COVID-19 case

The AMA ACT’s recommendation to avoid public events comes after Canberra recorded its first case of coronavirus yesterday.

In a press conference yesterday morning, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the man with COVID-19, in his 30s, became unwell on Tuesday, and returned a positive result to tests on Thursday morning.

He had not been overseas in the past fortnight, but had travelled interstate.

“I regret to inform Canberrans that we have our first case of COVID-19 in the territory,” Mr Barr said.

“We were, of course, expecting COVID-19 to come to the territory, and following this confirmation now every state and territory in Australia has a confirmed case.

“We are expecting more in the coming weeks.”

On radio this morning, Ms Stephen-Smith confirmed that “all of the close contacts of that person were tracked down yesterday and are either self-isolating or being tested as required, so we don’t have that community transmission”.

Dr Coleman also reiterated that “the community can be reassured that there is no risk to the general community from this case and people should go about their daily lives as normal”.

There are also two confirmed COVID-19 cases from people who have travelled through the ACT.

An attendee to a university conference held at the National Convention Centre between February 25-27 in Canberra tested positive to coronavirus once they returned to their home state.

“Health authorities have carried out extensive investigations into the source of the infection but have, as yet, been unable to identify the source of the infection [of the attendee],” Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said in a statement.

“Now, in line with the advice of ACT Health, we have emailed all delegates and asked them to be alert for any of the symptoms of COVID-19 and supplied health information and contact details.”

An ADF member, who travelled to Canberra on February 28 to attend a meeting at Defence Headquarters in Russell, also tested positive to coronavirus after returning home.

Topics:

diseases-and-disorders,

health,

infectious-diseases-other,

nrl,

rugby-league,

sport,

local-government,

government-and-politics,

canberra-2600,

act

First posted

March 13, 2020 11:27:49



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Australian News

Melbourne doctor explains logic behind COVID-19 testing


As the number of coronavirus cases in Australia continues to rise, one Melbourne doctor has explained why not everyone can be tested.

Dr Preeya Alexander, also known as The Wholesome Doctor, says GPs are being inundated with patients asking to be tested for COVID-19 but most do not fit the necessary criteria.

“Currently we are not testing everyone, and whilst this may change in the future, at the moment this isn’t feasible. The pressure on labs would be mammoth and the yield is likely low,” she said on Instagram.

Dr Alexander said patients needed to have either a history of international travel or to have been in close contact with a confirmed case.

“The patient also needs symptoms consistent with the virus such as fever or cough. These are the current GP guidelines for testing in Australia,” she said.

A total 126 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across Australia, with 64 in New South Wales, 18 in Victoria, 17 in Queensland, 8 in South Australia, 7 in Western Australia and 2 in Tasmania.

Follow our live, rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic below.

RELATED: Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson toured hot spots before testing positive

RELATED: McLaren pulls out of Australian Grand Prix

Live Updates


Alle McMahon

Dr Preeya Alexander, also known as The Wholesome Doctor on Instagram, has explained why only some people are being tested for the coronavirus despite GPs being inundated with requests.

“Currently we are not testing everyone, and whilst this may change in the future, at the moment this isn’t feasible,” she explained in a post.

“The pressure on labs would be mammoth and the yield is likely low.”

Dr Alexander said patients needed to have either a history of international travel or to have been in close contact with a confirmed case.

“The patient also needs symptoms consistent with the virus such as fever or cough,” she said.

“Every doctor has discretion on who they test but this is the current guide right now.”

A total 126 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across Australia, with 64 in New South Wales, 18 in Victoria, 7 in Queensland, 8 in South Australia, 7 in Western Australia and 2 in Tasmania.





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News

Social Commerce: Social-Media-Plattformen revolutionieren die Lieferkette – Apps und Software (sonst.) | News | LOGISTIK HEUTE


Wie das Softwareunternehmen BluJay Solutions kürzlich vermeldete, sind Akzeptanz und Nutzung des Social Commerce gerade unter jungen Usern der Generationen Z und Millennials hoch: 60 Prozent der 16- bis 34-Jährigen gaben in einer Befragung von GlobalWebIndex an, sich in den sozialen Medien über neue Produkte zu informieren und durch einen „Jetzt kaufen“-Button stärker zum Kauf angeregt zu werden, so die Mitteilung.

Passgenaue Darstellung interessanter Produkte

„Vom eher zufälligen Surfen zum Spontankauf ist es auf sozialen Plattformen dabei ein immer kürzerer Weg“, so die BluJay-Meldung. Funktionen wie Shoppable Pins auf Pinterest oder „Checkout on Instagram“ sollen dabei die passgenaue Darstellung interessanter Produkte und das Bestellen vonseiten des Verbrauchers erleichtern. Die vom Kunden online hinterlegten Adressinfos und Zahlungsoptionen stehen den Angaben zufolge für jede Transaktion sofort zur Verfügung, umständliche Registrierungen in externen Shops entfallen – und damit auch potenzielle Kaufhemmnisse.

Zusätzliche Shopping-Tools

Laut BluJay Solutions integrieren heute viele Social-Media-Plattformen wie Facebook oder Instagram zusätzliche Shopping-Tools. Sie unterstützen so Händler und Marken mit neuen Absatzoptionen – Stichwort Social Commerce. Doch was bedeutet das konkret für Retailer, Logistikdienstleister und Transportunternehmen? Der Lieferkettenspezialist BluJay Solutions hat Tipps zusammengefasst, worauf es in Sachen Social Commerce ankommt.

  1. Steigende Erwartungen – Supply Chains müssen sich weiterentwickeln: Wo sich eine Bestellung gerade befindet, ist jederzeit online und per App einsehbar: Verlässliche und pünktliche Lieferungen sind das A und O erfolgreichen Social Commerce. Damit dies aber tatsächlich reibungslos funktioniert, müssen sich Lieferketten kontinuierlich weiterentwickeln – sowohl aufseiten des Händlers als auch bei den Logistikpartnern.
  2. Echtzeitinformationen und robuste Software vonnöten: Zentrale Herausforderung ist dabei vor allem, die von Verbrauchern erwarteten Echtzeitinformationen bereitzustellen, etwa ob ein Produkt in einem bestimmten Geschäft verfügbar ist oder wie lang die Lieferzeiten sind. Die entscheidenden Voraussetzungen dafür: transparente Lagerbestände sowie die Fähigkeit, Echtzeitinformationen an Partner, Lieferanten und Kunden zu versenden. Um das zu gewährleisten, müssen die beteiligten Unternehmen robuste Softwarelösungen einsetzen, die ihre Datenbestände mithilfe standardisierter Protokolle teilen.
  3. Mobile Geräte für Lager und Logistik nutzen: Für Supply Chain Manager zahlt sich außerdem der Einsatz von Mobilgeräten wie Smartphones und Tablets mit zugehörigen Softwarelösungen für iOS und Android aus: Spediteure und Fahrer können so auf der entscheidenden letzten Meile Echtzeitdaten zur idealen Route erhalten und ihrerseits Informationen mit allen Beteiligten teilen. Empfänger werden stets aktuell über den Status ihrer Sendung und die voraussichtliche Lieferzeit informiert und haben die Möglichkeit, innerhalb eines festgelegten Zeitfensters etwa den Lieferort zu ändern. Fahrer sehen auf ihren Mobilgeräten alle wichtigen Änderungen auf einen Blick und erhalten zusätzliche Informationen zur Routenoptimierung, etwa um einen Stau zu vermeiden.
  4. Auf leistungsstarkes Netzwerk setzen: Mindestens ebenso wichtig wie eine transparente Lieferkette ist ihre Einbindung in ein Netzwerk aus geprüften 3PL-Dienstleistern und Transportunternehmen. Hersteller und Handel können so flexibel auf Veränderungen reagieren und etwa bei einem plötzlichen Nachfragehoch im Ausland zusätzliche Transportkapazitäten hinzubuchen. Darüber hinaus unterstützt das Netzwerk Transportpartner, Ad-hoc-Dienste wie beispielsweise die Lieferung über Nacht anzubieten, um Engpässe aufgrund eines hohen Bestellaufkommens zu entschärfen. Durch die Prüfung und Bewertung der Partner im Netzwerk wird dabei sichergestellt, dass sich keine „schwarzen Schafe“ einschleichen.

Flexible Lieferkette

Mit dem zu erwartenden weiteren Wachstum des Internethandels und hiermit einhergehend Social-Commerce-Angeboten wird es für Unternehmen immer wichtiger, ihre Lieferkette proaktiv und flexibel auszurichten, erklärt BluJay Solutions. Nicht zuletzt dürfte das schnelle 5G-Netz den Mobile und Social Commerce weiter beflügeln. Markenhersteller, Frachtdienstleister und Transportunternehmen sollten deshalb schon jetzt ihre Strategie darauf ausrichten, interne Prozesse und Fulfillment-Strategien für die internetaffine Käufergeneration von morgen fit zu machen, so die Pressemitteilung.



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Australian News

NBA suspended, Utah Jazz player tests positive to COVID-19, as US grapples with coronavirus outbreak


Updated

March 12, 2020 16:26:34

The impact of the coronavirus crisis on the sporting world has escalated, with America’s NBA suspending its season.

Key points:

  • More than 1,000 people in the United States have so far tested positive to COVID-19
  • An NBA player has become the first professional sportsman or woman in the US to test positive
  • The league responded to the news by suspending its season, signalling it would use the break to work on a response to the pandemic

This morning an NBA game between Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was cancelled at the last minute — with fans already in their seats — after a Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19.

The NBA did not name the player but American media identified him as Jazz centre Rudy Gobert.

The league, which generated revenue of $US8.8 billion ($13.62 billion) last year, announced it was closing down “until further notice” following the conclusion of the night’s schedule of games.

“The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league stated.

Leading NBA figures responded in shock to the announcement.

“This is crazy, this can’t be true,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN during his side’s match against the Denver Nuggets.

“This is not within the realms of possibility. It seems like more out of a movie than reality,” Cuban said.

“You know what, it’s really not about basketball or money, I mean literally if this thing is just exploding to the point where all of a sudden players and others have had it, you think about your family.

“Just the whole idea that it’s come this close, and that potentially a couple of players have it.

“Stunning isn’t the right word. It’s crazy.”

The National Hockey League (NHL) said it was consulting with experts on whether or not to suspend its season.

“The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision tonight,” the NHL said in a statement.

“The NHL continues to consult with medical experts, and is evaluating the options.

“We expect to have a further update tomorrow.”

Earlier, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said its biggest college basketball tournaments, known as March Madness, would be closed to spectators.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said only “essential staff and limited family” would be allowed to attend the tournaments, which begin on Tuesday in Ohio.

Major League Baseball, whose season is set to start on March 26, said the Seattle Mariners would not play home games during March, with the San Francisco Giants cancelling a pre-season match against the Oakland Raiders on March 24.

Topics:

sport,

basketball,

health,

infectious-diseases-other,

united-states

First posted

March 12, 2020 12:40:48





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Australian News

Teen develops prawn shell landfill compostable alternative


An Aussie teenager has come up with an innovative solution to plastic waste.

Angelina Arora, 17, has used prawn shells to create plastic that can decompose in landfill over an average of just 33 days.

Her invention has earned her a BHP Science and Engineering Award and last year she was named the Australian Geographic Society’s Young Conservationist of the Year.

Angelina told news.com.au she is now in talks with supermarkets to use her products.

“I’m still finalising the legal aspects like patenting for example, however I am at the stage where I have produced a final prototype and would be ready to manufacture the plastic to distribute it commercially,” she said.

The plastic is not expensive to manufacture, unlike other biodegradable materials, and can be put towards a variety of uses.

“I am currently in talks to companies and manufacturers and the response is looking positive,” she said.

The Adelaide teen said the plastic could be used for all sorts of packaging because it was transparent, flexible, durable and insoluble.

“It could also be used as an agricultural mulch as it releases nitrogen into the soil, which is really beneficial for plant growth, health and immunity,” she said.

Angelina developed the product by mixing an element from prawn shell with a protein from spider web to create a plastic that decomposed 1.5 million times faster than conventional plastics.

RELATED: Survey shows ‘eco anxiety’ among children

RELATED: Supermarkets questioned over plastic use

RELATED: Concern about consequences of plastic bag ban

The teenager, who is a medicine student, is currently testing the product to see if it could also be used for medical packaging.

The idea for her compostable plastic came one night during dinner.

“I have been experimenting with biodegradable plastics for a while, however, the initial plastics I made out of corn starch were soluble in water and were taking away a potential food source,” she said.

“So I looked at waste alternatives and tried coming up with a banana peel solution – that didn’t work either in regards to solubility.

“I was then having dinner one night after a long, hard day in the lab and noticed prawn shells look like plastic, I thought to myself ‘what makes them look like plastic?’ and then as any scientist does, I went straight to the lab and started researching.

“That was when I realised that that dinner could have been my Eureka moment.”

Angelina was motivated to develop the plastic product because she said she wanted to dedicate her life to making a difference to others, “whether it be conserving our environment for future generations or bettering the health of our society”.

She said developing the plastic wasn’t easy most of the time but it taught her not to see age as a barrier.

This week Angelina is supporting Sustainable Seafood Week to encourage Australians to look for sustainable seafood.

“My generation is finding its voice when it comes to making a difference for the environment,” she said.

“We have been brought up with a greater awareness of our finite natural resources and the impacts of climate change as well as new science.”

A YouGov study commissioned by the Marine Stewardship Council of 1000 young people aged 16-24, found more than 90 per cent were concerned about the impact of climate change on the oceans.

“One-third of the world’s seafood population is in decline, which is an alarming statistic,” MSC oceania program director Anne Gabriel said.

“Seafood is one of the last truly wild food sources we have left on the planet and the next generation will be the people most impacted by its decline, so it’s crucial that we act now and buy sustainable to change the trajectory.”

Continue the conversation @charischang2 | charis.chang@news.com.au





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Business

‘Insurance catastrophe’ for businesses as coronavirus not covered


Mr Fuller said businesses would be priced out of insurance if generic policies extended to all unpredictable events – such as pandemics and civil war. “If you want insurers to cover everything you’re going to have to have very deep pockets.”

While the extent of potential coronavirus-related claims are not known at this point, the council has set up a taskforce to measure the number of coronavirus-related claims to inform the industry position in the future.

Insurance giant IAG said the spread of human and infectious diseases was among general exclusions that may impact cover, but a spokesperson said claims would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“We encourage any business with questions on scope of their cover to contact their broker or insurer,” the IAG spokeswoman said.

Cities around the world have been sent into lock-down to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that has now infected more than 118,000 people in 114 countries and has caused events to be cancelled and businesses to shutter their doors.

Tasmania’s winter folk festival Dark Mofo is the first of Australia’s major events to be cancelled with art mogul David Walsh declaring he would “rather be a rich coward than a poor hero”.

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“Right now, the government and [Hobart’s contemporary museum] Mona are each on the hook for $2 million to run Dark Mofo. That’s bad,” Mr Walsh said in a statement.

While Mr Fuller said there is sometimes an expectation gap between policyholders and the extent of what is covered, the information about exclusions are embedded in product disclosures and communicated by insurance brokers.

“This is actually an opportune time for businesses to examine their risk identification processes and talk to their insurance brokers about their specific needs and the ways in which insurance can help them offset or manage those risks.”



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Coronavirus live updates: seventh Briton dies, second UK MP enters self-isolation and Belgium records first death | World news


For the festival, nominally held in honour of St Joseph, more than 700 neighbourhood associations spend months creating huge effigies of famous or historical figures. These are later burnt at the end of the five-day event.

Las Fallas, which were due to begin this Sunday, attract tens of thousands of visitors from Spain and abroad and it’s estimated that it’s worth around €700m to the city as it accounts for around 15% of visitors over the year. The festival of Magdalena in nearby Castellón has also been cancelled.

The news follows the cancellation of the annual World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, whose delegates were expected to spend around €500m during their four-day visit.

The list of cancellations continues to grow. The Málaga film festival, which attracts about 150,000 people to the southern city, has been called off. Málaga is the focus of coronavirus cases in Andalucía.

Meanwhile, numerous theatrical events have been cancelled and several rock bands are rescheduling their tours. However, the big question mark is Easter itself, which is celebrated with huge public events, especially in Sevilla, which no one as yet has dared to cancel.

And although tonight’s Champions League match between Liverpool and Atlético de Madrid will be played as normal, the Spanish club has advised supporters not to travel to the game.

The government has promised a series of measures such as extending credit to small businesses, a temporary moratorium on some taxes and a shorter working week and financial compensation for those with childcare responsibilities.

The Spanish hoteliers’ association has asked the government to help the sector, which faces a possibly disastrous Easter. Already, hotel reservations in Andalucía are down 20% over the Easter period and the tourism industry overall has yet to recover from the collapse of Thomas Cook last year.



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Australian News

Formula One team members quarantined due to coronavirus fears at Australian Grand Prix


Updated

March 11, 2020 20:06:35

Two members of the Haas Formula One team and one from McLaren are in quarantine as a precaution amid coronavirus fears ahead of Sunday’s season-opening race in Melbourne.

Key points:

  • Renault pulled both Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon from the team’s livery unveiling due to concerns about coronavirus
  • Team members from McLaren and Haas are awaiting results of tests for coronavirus
  • Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said at this stage the F1 season-opener will go ahead as planned

“Two members of the team have been quarantined and remain in their hotel room. They displayed symptoms of a cold,” a spokesperson for Haas told Reuters.

McLaren said one team member had self-isolated in the hotel as a precaution.

“We expect to receive the results overnight. The team is operating as per our normal schedule,” McLaren said.

Australian Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo has pulled out of a scheduled Renault team media conference over fears he might be exposed to the coronavirus.

Ricciardo and teammate Esteban Ocon were due to take questions from reporters after they unveiled Renault’s new livery for the 2020 season at the Albert Park circuit on Wednesday, but were withdrawn by team officials at the last minute.

“Our drivers were supposed to be with us for this event but due to the situation we’ve excused them for the occasion … I hope you understand why we are taking such measures,” team principal Cyril Abiteboul said.

There had earlier been concerns about whether Ferrari would take their place on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix, due to fears about team members being exposed to the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he was following advice from the state’s chief health officer in allowing the Grand Prix to go ahead in Melbourne this weekend.

“It is about proportionate responses. The advice is that it is not proportionate to cancel that event, or any other event at this stage,” Mr Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne.

The government is not currently aware of any confirmed cases, or their close contacts, linked to the Grand Prix and a government spokesperson said the public would be “informed about new confirmed cases”.

The current advice from the chief health officer is that mass gathering events like the Grand Prix, the Melbourne Fashion Festival and AFL football can continue.

Australian Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott said organisers were taking “prudent sensible measures”, including having more hand sanitisers and four warm water hand-washing stations around the venue.

More than 300,000 fans attended race week at Albert Park last year, according to organisers’ estimates.

Reuters/ABC

Topics:

infectious-diseases-other,

formula-1,

sport,

motor-sports,

respiratory-diseases,

melbourne-3000

First posted

March 11, 2020 19:37:02



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Australian News

Australia’s sharemarket hits 14-month low


The announcement of a US stimulus package to combat the economic ramification of the coronavirus did little to calm nerves, with the Australian sharemarket enduring yet another day of heavy losses.

The ASX finished trade down 3.6 per cent and losing tens of billions in the process, with Sky News Business editor Ticky Fullerton saying the result “is the fastest fall to create a bear market in Australia’s history”.

The benchmark S & P/ASX 200 closed down 213.7 points to 5,725.9 points, marking the lowest point the market has hit in 14 months.

The Aussie dollar, which was buying 65.06 US cents, was down from 65.62 US cents at the market close on Tuesday.

RELATED: World’s epic $1 trillion meltdown

The nation’s big banks also suffered heavy losses. Commonwealth Bank dropped 6.6 per cent, NAB 6.3 per cent, Westpac down 5.3 per cent and ANZ dropped 5.5 per cent.

The ASX 200 has now been labelled a “Bear market”, meaning the prices of securities have fallen 20 per cent or more from recent highs.

Earlier today the Reserve Bank was hesitant to speculate how deeply the deadly coronavirus outbreak will hurt Australia’s growth beyond the March quarter, but suggested interest rate cuts and mining investment will at least help soften the blow.

Deputy Governor Guy Debelle told the Australian Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney on Wednesday that a record low interest rate would support a post-virus recovery in spending, even if Australian households were reluctant to part with their cash as the virus spreads.

“They may not spend it straight away, but it brings forward the day when they will be comfortable with their balance sheets and resume a normal pattern of spending,” Mr Debelle said.

The bank cut the cash rate to a record low 0.5 per cent on March 3 to help strengthen the economy against the impact of the virus outbreak, and is widely expected to make back-to-back cuts next month, taking the interest rate to a new record low of 0.25 per cent.

– With AAP



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Local News - Victoria

‘Life-changing program’ puts refugees, asylum seekers on right track


“It had been a risk for the companies to hire us because they don’t know what we bring to the table.”

A new cadetship program designed to bridge the gap asylum seekers and refugees face in matching their international engineering qualifications has kicked off through the Level Crossing Removal Project.

Mr Roble is among 30 refugee and asylum seeker engineers who will be working on transport infrastructure and construction projects over the next 18 months, while receiving training, mentoring and a Graduate Certificate in Infrastructure Engineering qualification.

Last month, Mr Roble started at the Australian Rail Track Corporation as a project engineer.

“This is a life-changing program,” Mr Roble says. “We have all the necessary qualifications, but we can’t find a job. The program made it possible for us, so we thank them.

“We’ll try our best to repay them back by working very hard and hitting the ground to prove that they were right, and we deserve this spot and opportunity.”

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said the cadetship program was about preparing a workforce to deliver the government’s signature agenda.

“We’re so pleased to be able to support 30 cadets through this program, bringing many years of valuable engineering experience from their home countries to our major infrastructure projects in Victoria,” Ms Allan said.

“From level crossing removals, to Metro Tunnel and North East Link, we’re getting things done across the state and we need more skilled engineers to deliver this crucial pipeline of work.”

Iranian refugee Donya has started as a project engineer at the Level Crossing Removal Project, while Somalian refugee Abdinasir Hasi Nur has begun work as a project officer for V/Line.

“I’ve got the idea now and I’m confident that I can do my best and help, I hope to open the way for other refugees,” Donya said.

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