(Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

Stock market shock

The Australian stock market has tumbled by 5% (more than $100 billion) this morning — with the ASX 200 dropping below the 6000-point barrier, its worst day since the global financial crisis.

Italy on lockdown

Italy has placed 16 million people — including all 10 million in the northern region of Lombardy — under quarantine, prohibiting travel and cancelling all public events in the affected area.

The move, also affecting parts of tourist hotspots Milan and Venice, affects a quarter of Italy’s population.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has also announced the closure of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues across the whole country.

On Saturday alone, cases in Italy jumped from 1200 to 5883. Officials have reported more than 133 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Players from Serie A football teams Parma and Spal were forced to walk back to the dressing rooms minutes before kick off in their fixture, while Juventus and Inter Milan played a surreal match in a completely empty stadium. The Italian players association is threatening to strike, and the rest of the season may be suspended.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has cordoned off the eastern province of Qatif, home to the largest population of the Shia minority in the kingdom.

Please, chuck a sickie

In Australia, two cases over the weekend have raised the issue of what the virus does to those in precarious work.

There was the case of a 20-year-old student who continued to work seven shifts at a hotel while waiting for his test results (which eventually came back positive). Also The Australian reports that Flight Centre employees are being asked to take leave (paid or unpaid) and to significantly cut back their working hours.

Unions have called for whatever stimulus package the government comes up with to include compensation for casual workers who are unable to work due to the outbreak.

“We don’t want people with virus or people with symptoms going to work, but they are going to have to choose between paying the bills and feeding themselves or going to work,” Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus told Today this morning.

As The New Daily reported, the Fair Work Act is understandably pretty vague on the subject of an employees rights during a pandemic.

Tragedy in Quanzhou

At least 10 people have died and dozens are still trapped after a hotel in southeastern China that was acting as a coronavirus quarantine centre collapsed. Eighty people were inside the building in the city of Quanzhou when it came down.

At last count, 48 have been pulled from the rubble and 23 remain unaccounted for.

The US test case

A factor that distorts the number of known cases internationally is that several countries have failed to adequately test for the disease, or have a potential interest in under-reporting.

One of the biggest offenders is the US. While cases continue to jump, there is simply no way of knowing how many people really have it. The US has issued a piffling 2000 test kits (compared to say, 140,000 in South Korea).

The kids are alright

Meanwhile, back in Wuhan, kids are gloriously, defiantly still being kids.

With the city a ghost town under quarantine, all schools are still suspended. Thus kids are being assigned schoolwork via an app called DingTalk. The app allowed them to attend online classes and gave teachers the ability to assign homework remotely.

According to a fascinating piece from the city in the London Review of Books, Wuhan’s tech-savvy students found a way around this:

Somehow the little brats worked out that if enough users gave the app a one-star review it would get booted off the App Store. Tens of thousands of reviews flooded in, and DingTalk’s rating plummeted overnight from 4.9 to 1.4.