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(Image: AAP/Dan Peled)

TESTING, TESTING, 1, 2, 3

Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia yesterday widened testing criteria to members of hotspot areas and vulnerable people, The Australian ($) reports, with criticisms emerging of the still-limited national criteria which translates — as Crikey unpacked yesterday — to per capita testing rates of just 1.1%.

However, new state measures vary significantly:

  • Queensland will test symptomatic people in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and Cairns, following 32 untraced cases in these regions;
  • Victoria, conversely, will only expand state eligibility to those aged 65 and over, teachers, childcare workers, firefighters, and emergency medical experts;
  • As The Sydney Morning Herald explains, NSW will expand testing to anyone with symptoms across Lake Macquarie, Manning, Woollahra, Waverley, Ryde, Macquarie Park, Dee Why, Manly, Nowra, South Nowra, the Byron Bay area, Port Macquarie, Broken Hill and — via a drive-through car park-turned-testing clinic — Bondi Beach; and
  • Western Australia announced a new clinic will open at Broome Hospital on Wednesday, to be accessible to anyone in the Kimberley with either a fever of or above 38 degrees or an acute respiratory infection.

CASUAL WORKERS AT RISK

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter has reached an in-principle agreement with the ACTU to temporarily expand employer flexibility under the Fair Work Act — apparently required to pay the minimum $1,500 JobKeeper subsidy without breaching current awards or EBAs — while ensuring unions can seek arbitration at the Fair Work Commission if a business weakens employee rights.

However, as The New Daily reports, the ACTU appears set to lose out on expanding JobKeeper to the roughly one million casual workers who do not meet the 12-month service rule, with Porter refusing to budge and Labor supporting the expansion but unwilling to vote against the entire package if it is not included.

FOES UNITED: The news follows daily crisis meetings between Porter and Secretary Sally McManus, with the two even uniting against the mining industry’s call to slash awards($) and wow, yeah, I guess this kind of is the end of the world?

ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?

While modelling or advice cannot be taken as entirely predictive, The Guardian ($) reports that new data from the Centre for Complex Systems at Sydney University finds that if 90% of Australians maintain social distancing rules, coronavirus cases could peak in mid-April and reduce to almost zero new cases by July.

This would still require widespread asymptomatic testing and up to four weeks of social distancing after the last known person had recovered, lest the curve ramp back up again. Either way — as national cabinet prepares to release modelling behind policy decisions today — we should prepare to settle in. NSW’s restriction of movement laws, to take the worst-hit state as an example, will last until June 30.

WHAT OF THE OTHER AUSTR-IA? Over in Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced last night that the country will likely loosen three week lockdown measures on small shops as soon as next Tuesday 14 April, with Reuters reporting that social distancing measures would remain and a country-wide mask requirements expanded.

BORIS JOHNSON IN ICU WITH COVID-19

Early this morning, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to an intensive care unit after his condition worsened over the course of Monday.

According to The Guardian’s live-blog, Johnson is conscious and has been moved as a precaution in case he needs ventilation.

SPAIN GETS A UBI

According to Bloomberg, Spain’s Economy Minister Nadia Calvino has announced the country will not only look to roll out a Universal Basic Income as soon as possible but that the government plans for the UBI to become an instrument “that stays forever”.

The rollout of a UBI — which is distinct from other welfare measures in that all citizens would receive a flat living wage regardless of employment, income, or assets — would be historic, as Wired explains, with parties in the US, UK, and Italy all proposing and failing to implement something similar amid the crisis.

FUN FACT: While Wired claims Spain would be the first country to implement a nation-wide UBI, Iran, as Business Insider explains, introduced a scheme in 2010. Further, no one stopped working because of it?

PELL FINDING AT 10AM

Finally, as ABC reports, the High Court ruling on George Pell’s appeal against child sex abuse convictions will be handed down today in a virtual vacuum, with the four possible outcomes being:

  • Special leave to appeal is rejected, leaving Pell in prison;
  • Special leave to appeal is granted but the appeal dismissed and Pell remains in prison;
  • Special leave to appeal is granted and the appeal allowed, resulting in Pell’s immediate release; or
  • Special leave to appeal is granted and the appeal is remitted back to the Court of Appeal to be re-examined by three new judges, allowing Pell to apply for bail.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

They were seized in the United States. Paid for, but seized, so we are trying to see exactly what is going to transpire there.

Lieutenant Col Jeffrey Bostic

Barbados’ Minister of Health and Wellness is forced to explain to citizens that, while the country does not have an equipment shortage, 20 donated ventilators had been expropriated by America.

CRIKEY RECAP

The lockdown is accumulating a debt that must be repaid to younger Australians

“Interrupted educations. Vanished jobs. Lost social lives. No sport or travel. Young people are bearing the brunt of the virus shutdown and its economic impacts, to an extent that most people over 30 are unlikely to understand.”


Outliers and unconventional approaches: what’s winning and losing voters around the world? 

“‘The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future,’ the Queen said.

“It’s rhetoric which invokes the feeling of wartime — it’s just the fourth televised speech in response to current events she has made during her 68-year reign (outside her annual Christmas message).’


How long before a vaccine is ready? Scientists are racing for the good of all mankind

“Predicting when a COVID-19 vaccine will be developed, licensed, and manufactured at a global scale is, frankly, a mug’s game. The shortest predicted timeframe — that it may be ready within 12 months of the mid-January release of the virus genome by Chinese researchers — would be an unprecedented achievement.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Government MPs accuse Constance of failing to disclose crucial Ruby Princess information

Qantas to use Jobkeeper to pay down annual leave

NBN ‘holding up well’ as coronavirus causes internet traffic surge, ACCC says

Virus crisis crackdown: All Territory FIFO workers to have detailed COVID-19 plan

Returning Qantas crew members tested positive for coronavirus but were exempt from quarantine

‘A mess’: Renters, landlords and agents face coronavirus quagmire

Gold Coast beaches shut down after Queensland’s weekend of insolence

Lack of PPE forces Aboriginal health groups to stop testing for coronavirus

Coronavirus NSW: Free hotels and parking for frontline healthcare workers

‘Morale boosting’ PPE worth millions arrives in Perth to protect frontline workers

Four arrested for shooting at mosque in Gurgaon’s Dhankot village

THE COMMENTARIAT

Will the modelling tell us if we are getting the fight against COVID-19 right? Probably notMahomed Patel (Sydney Morning Herald): “Health experts have done a lot of disagreeing lately about COVID-19. Some have argued for stage 4 lockdowns, others have argued for gentler social restrictions. Their disagreements are often pitted in the media as the ‘right advice’ versus the “wrong advice”. However, should we really be concerned when experts disagree?”

Coronavirus: Take as directed for fast, effective reliefJudith Sloan (The Australian): “Economists are having to get used to playing a different role in the present environment. Accustomed to pontificating about the merits and drawbacks of particular policy interventions in the context of relatively normal economic conditions, this approach is no longer viable or useful.”

On working for Murdoch in 2020Patrick Marlborough (Rolling Stone): “I do not have the undeniable smarts of the anonymous The Australian’s ‘Mocker’ or the unfiltered genius of someone who suffered a major brain injury after falling off a balcony, but I have to say that working for News Corp in 2020 should cause one to pause, and reflect.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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Peter Fray

This crisis will cut hard and deep but one day it will be over.

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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