“I have a gorgeous pool boy come every week. He’s needed both for my mental health and pool’s cleanliness. Can he still come along?” Was a question from ‘Barbara’ to ABC Online’s coronavirus news stream yesterday. The answer? Given he’s still performing a job, technically it’s ok. “But in your particular case, I have zero trust in you being able to maintain social distancing. So my answer to you specifically is a firm no.” Mic drop.
CHINA MOVES ON AS AUSTRALIA STAYS AT HOME
Wuhan – the city in central China where the COVID-19 global health emergency began in December last year – has ended its two-and-a-half-months in lockdown. Residents were allowed out to shop for essentials when the lockdown started in mid-January. But from mid-February, authorities kept 11 million people in their homes – an action that came to symbolise China’s aggressive approach to containing the virus. Meanwhile, Australian officials are mapping our way out.
SO CHINA’S COME OUT THE OTHER SIDE OF IT?
Not so fast. Since the start of the outbreak, officials say 50,000 people in Wuhan were infected, and 2,500 of them died – 80% of all deaths in China. While just three new confirmed cases have been reported in Wuhan in the past three weeks, the northern city of Suifenhe has ordered restrictions on its residents amid concerns of a second wave of infections in China. So it’s not over. And China’s fight on the world stage isn’t over either. While the World Health Organisation has praised China for its transparency on the virus, others point to its ongoing denial that it was ground zero for the crisis. Some officials and world leaders also have a suspicion that more people have died of COVID-19 than China’s official numbers indicate.
AND WHEN WILL RESTRICTIONS BE LIFTED IN OZ?
Not so fast x 2. Reports say the experts are just starting to look at when and how the next phase of Australia’s response will roll out. Yes, we’ve all done great work on slowing the spread of COVID-19 with our excellent social distancing form and the travel bans that were put in place. But what’s not well understood at the moment is the rate of community transmission of the virus. About 10% of Australia’s cases have a big question mark over them, and that’s a worry. Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says officials will know more “next week or 10 days”. Get comfy and settle in…
SQUIZ THE REST
MEANWHILE, IN OTHER CORONAVIRUS NEWS…
• It was a historic day in Canberra’s Parliament House as Labor joined the Coalition to support the eye-wateringly large $130 billion JobKeeper package. PM Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg marked the moment with an elbow bump.
• The first 280 travellers to go into mandatory quarantine in hotels after arriving from overseas have emerged from Sydney’s Swissotel after 14 days inside. Meanwhile, the nearly 100 Aussie passengers from an Australian cruise ship stranded off Uruguay will fly home today. Reports say 60% of the 217 passengers and crew have COVID-19.
• Australia’s growth in new cases continues to slow. Yesterday we passed the 6,000 mark of confirmed cases – our lowest daily increase since 16 March. The number of deaths increased yesterday to 50 people.
• Meanwhile, New York City continues to struggle – it’s again recorded its highest one-day increase in deaths taking the total to more than 6,000. The UK has also topped its worst day statistics recording 938 deaths on Wednesday taking total fatalities to more than 7,000. And UK PM Boris Johnson remains in intensive care in a London hospital with doctors saying he is responding to treatment. Globally, we’re heading towards 1.5 million cases. There have been 87,000 deaths and 315,000 people have recovered.
• And in the latest instalment of ‘yep, that happened’, Matthew McConaughey has become a bingo caller for a Texan aged care home. Struggling actors have gotta take work where they find it…
SANDERS DROPS OUT
America is heading for a showdown between Republican President Donald Trump and former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden after left-winger Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race to be the Democrat’s candidate overnight. Sanders is a two-time candidate for the presidential nomination, and he has built quite a following with his brand of democratic socialism that called for free health care and access to education for all Americans. Sanders said; “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere in the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour.” President Trump tweeted “Sanders is OUT!”
VANUATU SMASHED AS HAROLD HEADS TO FIJI
After battering the Pacific island of Vanuatu over Monday and Tuesday, Category 5 Cyclone Harold has now wreaked havoc in neighbouring Fiji. While authorities are struggling to assess the extent of the damage in Vanuatu, initial pictures show it is significant and widespread. Local Oxfam director Lisa Faerua said she expects recovery will take a year between the rebuilding effort and travel bans from the coronavirus outbreak. Fiji has 15 confirmed coronavirus cases, and PM Frank Bainimarama said special measures had are in place for evacuees, including the enforcement of social distancing measures in evacuation centres. Harold is expected to hit Tonga today.
PELL MOVES ON AS WITNESS HAS HIS SAY
The former choirboy whose testimony put Cardinal George Pell behind bars for child sexual abuse before the High Court acquitted him on Tuesday released a statement yesterday saying he respected the decision. The man known as Witness J said he was doing ok. “This case does not define me,” he said. Witness J’s lawyer, Vivian Waller said she hoped the outcome did not deter other victims of sexual assault from coming forward and encouraged survivors to “not lose heart”. Meanwhile, Pell hit the Hume Highway yesterday travelling from Melbourne to Sydney, where he is expected to remain.
And while we have you… Former NSW detective Gary Jubelin has been fined $10,000 following his conviction this week for making illegal phone recordings during his investigation into the disappearance of toddler William Tyrell. He is appealing his conviction.
DONE DEAL TURNS INTO MAGAZINE WARS
The future of a planned merger of two of Australia’s biggest magazine publishers looks uncertain with Seven West Media’s Pacific Magazines taking Bauer Media to court to force it to complete the $40 million deal. Bauer’s takeover of Pacific Magazines, which publishes titles including New Idea and WHO, is set to go ahead today, but reports say Bauer has baulked at paying up with Pac Mags now valued at $20 million. Bauer (which publishes Australian Women’s Weekly and Woman’s Day) signed an unconditional deal, Seven West Media says, and it’s not going to adjust the price. Bauer’s lawyers said the company was “aware of its obligations”. Which is corporate-speak for “get off our case”…
THURSDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
Video calls, be they for social or work-related purposes, are now a part of daily life for many of us. For anyone who’s finding it off-putting, this is the only guide you need: How to Look Good on Camera, According to Tom Ford. And while we’re looking at these things, here’s a guide to ‘strategically grow out your eyebrows’.
We haven’t been this excited about a book release in ages. Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & the Light is the last in the award-winning trilogy about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of King Henry VIII. Here’s an extract to get you in the mood.
For dinner tomorrow night we’re cooking a favourite fish curry. Tip: get to the shops early today if you have to go because it could be a tricky day on the provisions sourcing front…