Following a bad night for coronavirus death cases, Tasmania has introduced strict border control as schools remain open and events continue to be cancelled en masse around the country.

Crikey takes a look at developments from around the world. 

Sharp leap in cases

There’s been a sharp jump in cases overnight — according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, at time of writing there were nearly 215,000 confirmed cases worldwide and almost 9,000 deaths. 

Of these, 568 cases are in Australia, where six people have died. Italy recorded its worst single-day death toll with 475 deaths overnight, reaching a total of 2,978.

Things have gotten serious: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the coronavirus Germany’s “biggest challenge since the second world war”. 

Tassie gets tough

In an announcement this morning, Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein introduced the “toughest border measures in the country”. 

From midnight on Friday, any non-essential travellers to Tasmania will have to fill out an arrival card and quarantine themselves for 14 days — including locals returning to the state.

Essential travellers, including those who work in health or emergency services will be exempt.

“This is about the health of all Tasmanians,” Gutwein said. Locals and visitors will still be able to come and go, provided they abide by the self-isolation rules.

Penalties of $16,800 and up to six months in prison apply to those who break the law. 

A ray of hope

Clinical trials of a Japanese flu drug designed to treat new strains of influenza showed some effect in coronavirus patients. 

Tested patients returned negative results around four days after showing a positive result, compared with a median 11 days for those who were not treated with the drug. The Japanese Health Ministry has advised, however, that the drug isn’t as effective in people with severe symptoms. 

The news comes as health experts warn younger people not to be complacent: WHO has found a number of coronavirus deaths in people between the age of 30 and 50 without other health conditions.

School’s (not) out for corona

One thing that remains open, much to the dismay of children, are schools. Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would follow the lead of Singapore and keep schools running to allow parents — especially healthcare workers — to continue working. 

But in Singapore more precautions are being taken. Children have their temperature taken every day, with students and staff monitored for flu-like symptoms.

Parents and the teachers’ union in Queensland say social distancing is impossible given how crowded classes and how bad kids are at following directions. 

Schools across the UK will shut down on Friday until further notice. 

You’re cancelled, and you’re cancelled!

Everything from music concerts, comedy gigs, festivals, retreats and classes has been cancelled. Eurovision 2020 has been called off, the contest’s first cancellation in 64 years, along with the UK’s Glastonbury music festival. 

Closer to home, Bunnings has suspended its famous sausage sizzle amid dwindling supplies and a volunteer shortage. Now we’ve lost everything.  

Meanwhile, Qantas and Jetstar have also grounded international flights following a country-wide travel ban outside Australia, with Qantas standing down 20,000 workers. The news has left many Australians stranded abroad.

US finally gets it

The US seems to finally be taking the crisis seriously, closing its border with Canada to non-essential traffic and pushing for a US$1 trillion stimulus package.

The White House also advised the public to avoid groups larger than 10 people and to stay away from bars and restaurants.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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