More than 50,000 people have crossed the NSW-Victoria border ahead of last night’s closure, The Guardian reports. Premier Gladys Berejiklian warns that NSW residents along the Murray River could face new intrastate restrictions; according to The Sydney Morning Herald, these rules could be announced as early as today.
With Melbourne now in lockdown for at least the next six weeks, other updates are flying thick and fast:
- The Age reports that patients and staff members across several hospitals and aged care facilities have tested positive, and “that major orders for ventilators, defibrillators and intensive care monitors — often based on the worst-case scenario — have been cancelled or renegotiated and may now need to be revised following the spike in cases”
- The paper also reports that two workers the Metro Tunnel project tested positive yesterday, shutting down one of the project’s sites
- Planes will no longer be allowed to land in New South Wales until NSW Health are in place to screen them, following an email leaked to the ABC claiming that passengers on a Melbourne-Sydney flight disembarked without being screened on Tuesday
- According to the Herald Sun, business owners across Victoria’s Morning Peninsula — which has no active cases — are unhappy about their inclusion in the current lockdown
- The Sydney Morning Herald reports that national cabinet will consider capping the number of international arrivals in order to ease the burden on hotel quarantine — already nearing capacity in WA, according to The West Australian ($) — while Scott Morrison has asked the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to review national hotel quarantine arrangements and report ahead of Friday’s meeting
- Speaking to The Australian ($), two “national COVID sources” have echoed criticisms first aired by infection disease expert Lindsay Grayson at The Age over a lack of contact tracing capacity — allegedly due to a lack of political support — at the Victorian Health Department.
Finally, with nine public housing estates still under hard lockdown in Melbourne — and the removal of police today subject to testing rates — 7NEWS reports that breastmilk has been collected from a resident currently separated from her newborn baby.
CAGE WITHIN A CAGE: According to refugee activist group RISE, some estate residents are allegedly trapped in rooms within their apartment after their tests came back negative but family members tested positive.
JOBKEEPER GIVETH AND JOBKEEPER TAKETH AWAY
According to the AFR ($), the Morrison government is preparing to extend JobKeeper, provide further relief for insolvent trading, and bring forward tax cuts as options to cushion the impact of Victoria’s second lockdown — even if the economic benefit of a tax plan that gives $33 billion over five years for people on $180,000 and more is, at best, debatable.
Conversely, The Guardian reports that the tax office has told hundreds of childcare providers they are ineligible for JobKeeper, and that — in yet another story that rings the ‘Robodebt 2.0’ klaxon — they may have to pay back what they have already received.
Finally, The Age reports that the ACTU — following a failed attempt at the Fair Work Commission to mandate paid pandemic leave for all healthcare workers — has joined with health experts in demanding pandemic leave for all workers. This comes after The Conversation cited the fear of losing money or work as a reason some people avoid getting tested (and, therefore, potentially quarantined).
STATE WATCH: The Australian ($) reports that Queensland’s new Treasurer Cameron Dick will today “announce he has found $3 billion in savings over the forward estimates” as part of a plan targeting the use of consultancies that Dick pledges will not affect frontline services, sack public servants or sell publicly owned state assets. As The Courier-Mail ($) notes, the plan will also allow roughly 1500 public servants to work closer to home.
AN UPDATE ON THE SCIENCE OF COVID-19
Finally, because the pandemic hasn’t been quite traumatic enough, Reuters reports that scientists at University College London — via a study at Brain — have unpacked how 43 COVID-19 patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage or other serious brain effects.
As The Conversation explains, the report follows several previous studies demonstrating that “severity of lung illness doesn’t always correlate with severity of neurological illness” i.e. people with only mild lung symptoms are not automatically protected against more serious brain illnesses.
PS: According to The Guardian, scientists are working alongside World Health Organisation sanitary engineers to investigate the infectiousness and longevity of airborne SARS-CoV-2 particles, following complaints that WHO’s official advice underplays the risk of airborne transmission.
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THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Today we received a media inquiry from ABC’s Stephen Long who has written a number of stories about Adani. Stephen has often omitted facts provided to him by Adani to create a negative perception of our business. We have decided to share our response to his questions below.
Apparently responding to questions over the planned Godda power plant — which, as AdaniWatch reported in March, forms the lynchpin of the Carmichael-India-Bangladesh coal plan and is currently subject to a variety of local legal complaints — Adani makes the unusual PR choice of publicly smearing a journalist prior to their story’s publication.
“A pandemic is no time for political spin, waffle or attempts at soaring rhetoric. Right?
“Leaders need to get facts out in clear language. The normal media management that governs modern politicking — drops to journalists, kite-flying, strategic leaks and massaging expectations — need to be ditched in favour of delivering information quickly and clearly. Right?”
“Residents from border towns across New South Wales and Victoria feel they have been kept in the dark over accessing permits needed to work, study and receive medical care.
“Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday the border would close at midnight Tuesday — for the first time since the Spanish flu epidemic in 1919 — as the state battles its surge of COVID-19 cases.”
“You might think that if a government spent millions of dollars on an app designed to help identify people exposed to the coronavirus they’d make sure it actually worked.
“What has emerged is that our COVIDSafe tracing app was launched before it had been properly tested.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Why are masks not yet mandatory in Australia? — Jeremy Howard and Nick Talley (Sydney Morning Herald): “With Victoria heading toward potential disaster and NSW at risk because of school holiday travel and the easing of restrictions, governments are focusing on the most expensive and damaging tool, the lockdown. The official guidance skips the cheapest effective strategy: requiring a mask. This needs to change, and not just in Melbourne.”
Judgment reserved on cardboard cutout PM in Eden-Monaro ($) — Niki Savva (The Australian): “There were large swaths of the electorate [Scott Morrison] felt unable to visit, not just because of social distancing. For all the well-known reasons he steered clear of scorched earth, venturing less than a half-dozen times to a few seemingly safe places in the electorate he renamed ‘Eden Monario’ in a verbal slip on his final campaign outing last Thursday that actually took place in the ACT.”
WHO’s coronavirus sleuths are heading to China but it may be too late to solve the pandemic’s mysteries — Bill Birtles (ABC): “This week the World Health Organization (WHO) is sending in a team to China to investigate the origins of coronavirus, posing an unusual challenge to Beijing’s efforts to suggest COVID-19 came from abroad. Like previous WHO delegations to China, the mission itself is also shrouded in secrecy.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The inquiry into COVID-19’s impact on foreign affairs, defence and trade will hear from Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre and Ethical Clothing Australia.
Scott Morrison is expected to speak with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on security issues, such as rising tensions with China, during virtual talks.