Squiz Today / 18 March 2020

Squiz Today – Wednesday, 18 March



A movement to help vulnerable people get through the coronavirus crisis in Canada. Here’s hoping it spreads like a virus…


As Australia’s number of confirmed cases exceeded 400 yesterday, the government’s battle against COVID-19 has two clear objectives. One is to control the spread of the virus so our health system isn't overwhelmed and vulnerable people are protected. The other is to cushion the economy so that the impact on jobs and business activity is minimised. These are the issues that our political leaders and policy experts are agonising over at the moment.

PM Scott Morrison and health authorities are copping a lot of heat about whether the government has gone far enough to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Sure, they’ve imposed travel bans and put limits on crowd numbers. But a group of doctors have made an urgent plea for measures to be stepped up significantly saying the number of cases could be "10,000 by the 4th of April". One hot topic is keeping schools open. Yesterday, NSW’s top doctor Kerry Chant said the advice is that “pre-emptive closures are not likely to be proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time." But watch this space... Restrictions on visits to aged care facilities are being thought through. And a ban on groups of more than 100 people in enclosed areas is also on the cards.

Yeah, there’s a lot of worry about that… And more spending from the government to support the sectors hardest hit in the downturn is what Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann have been working on. Cormann yesterday painted a gloomy picture (while doing some excellent social distancing) saying "businesses will close and Australians will lose their jobs". And we didn't need to look much further than our airlines to see how tough things are. Qantas and Jetstar have slashed their international capacity by about 90%, and domestic seats by around 60%. And regional airline Rex warned it will go under if assistance isn't available. In response, the government will waive $715 million worth of fees and charges for domestic airlines. Morrison is expected to announce new stimulus measures any moment now...



• The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last night said Australians overseas who wish to return should get on a commercial flight home ASAP. The advice comes as more countries close their borders.

• Yesterday was a turnaround on the Australian Stock Exchange with the index of the top 200 listed companies rebounding 5.83% after taking the worst hit in 30 years on Monday. Similar gains were made across US and European markets overnight.

• Volunteers in the US have started testing a vaccine. Doctors are hopeful, but it’s still a 12 to 18-month-long road to develop something for mass use.

• Some icons have taken a hit with the Sydney Opera House cancelling public performances, India’s iconic Taj Mahal is closed, and New York’s Met Gala has been postponed.

• While Aussies continue to worry about their pantry stocks, people in the Netherlands are worried about stocking up on something else entirely… And if you’re feeling anxious about going to the gym, have we got a home exercise suggestion for you…


America will pull out of three bases in Iraq in the coming weeks. Pundits say it’s another sign that US President Donald Trump still wants the US out of far-flung conflicts. And they note that it comes as tensions with the Iraqi government and Iran are high. The move has been planned for months, according to officials, and isn’t a reaction to attacks by Iran-backed militia groups that have killed several US soldiers in the last few weeks. US and Coalition troops have been in the area as part of the fight against Islamic State. Most troops will be redeployed to other locations in the country, a US official said.


Property prices in Sydney and Melbourne were growing at their highest rate in more than three years in the last December quarter - just in time for the coronavirus outbreak to potentially get in the way... The latest data from the Bureau of Stats revealed house prices in Sydney grew 4.7% over the quarter and 5.2% in Melbourne. Over 2019, house prices around the country rose 2.5% and were up in all capital cities except Darwin. The coronavirus outbreak is expected to keep buyers away from auctions with numbers starting to fall off in some areas last weekend, reports say.


Many of us had the misfortune of leaving something in the back of a cab/rideshare car, but Mumbai takes the cake when it comes to forgetting belongings, according to Uber’s 2020 Lost & Found Index. While phones were the most common thing to be left behind by Uber passengers (and how awful is it when that happens…), the report found Thursdays and Fridays to be the most ‘forgetful’ days of the week, and afternoons between 1pm and 3pm to be the most common hours when people lose things. The lesson: hold onto your phone later in the week in the early arvo…


And the winner is (drumroll please…) Cats. Who would have thought that the movie that not even its star Dame Judi Dench can bear to see would take out this year’s Golden Raspberry Awards? Not once, but six times… Worst film; Worst supporting actress (Rebel Wilson); Worst supporting actor (James Corden); Worst screenplay; Worst director; Worst screen combo. Ouch… This year’s worst actress - Hillary Duff for The Haunting of Sharon Tate. And Razzie favourite John Travolta won the honour of worst actor for The Fanatic and Trading Paint. If losing is winning, we’re all champions at some point…


If you could name a show as good as Antiques Roadshow, it would have to be The Great British Bake Off - the show that made Mary Berry an international star. And a bombshell: original hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins resigned on day one because they feared the producers wanted it to be more mean and nasty than gentle and warm. Things settled down, and it became a major ratings hit. The pair left the show a while back, and a new hosting change is afoot. On your mark, get set, bake…


12.30pm (AEDT) - National Press Club hosts a panel discussion with Jodie McVernon (Director of Epidemiology at Melbourne's Doherty Institute), Kamalini Lokuge (doctor and epidemiologist) & Vanessa Johnston (Public Health Physician) on the coronavirus crisis

US Democratic primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona

Birthdays for Queen Latifah (1970), Adam Levine (1979), Lily Collins (1989)

Anniversaries - Of the first-ever public bus service operating in Paris (1662); Of Mahatma Gandhi being sentenced to six years imprisonment for disobedience (1922); Of the ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) (1949)

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