Good evening, and welcome to our daily roundup of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Melissa Davey bringing you the main stories on Saturday 2 May.
Spread throughout NSW nursing home continues
Another two staff members at Sydney’s Newmarch House nursing home have tested positive for Covid-19 following the deaths of 13 residents. The New South Wales chief medical officer, Dr Kerry Chant, has said NSW Health will look into the possibility that infection controls were breached. More than one-third of the home’s residents have now been infected. Anglicare, which manages the home, said on Saturday that the new infections occurred “despite having strict procedures and enforced infection control practices in place”.
“We are investigating further as to how this occurred and we continue to work closely with the NSW public health unit on this. Additional positive cases associated with Newmarch House are very distressing for our staff, our residents, and their families,” Anglicare said in a statement. Read more about how the highly infectious virus was able to take hold in the home.
Restrictions begin to ease throughout the country
Queenslanders are enjoying their first weekend under eased restrictions, which means they can leave their home for recreation. They can have a picnic, shop for non-essential items, and the distance they can travel has also been extended. Some national parks are also open. Meanwhile the Tasmanian premier, Peter Gutwein, confirmed that as of midnight Sunday, extra restrictions in the north-west of the state, put in place following clusters of the virus in two hospitals, will be removed. On Friday, NSW partially relaxed its restrictions so that up to two adults (and any dependent children) can visit any other household.
While restrictions have eased elsewhere in Australia, they remain in place in Victoria. There are only four reasons for people in the state to leave their home: food and supplies, medical care and care giving, exercise, and work or education. Two further meetings of national cabinet are scheduled next week, with leaders to decide on Friday how federal restrictions can be eased. The federal government wants to see more downloads of its Covidsafe contact tracing app before then.
New Zealand Warriors granted permission to enter the country
The New Zealand Warriors will arrive in Tamworth on Sunday and be able to train despite a 14-day isolation period, after receiving clearance from Australian border force and the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton. They received final approvals on Saturday. The latest green light was crucial for the NRL’s ambition of a return by 28 May. The NRL chairman, Peter V’landys, said the Warriors would join every club in a mandatory education day on Monday to ensure players toed the line during the coronavirus pandemic. Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, confirmed on Friday that borders would be open for the state’s three NRL teams to play in NSW. It means North Queensland, Brisbane and the Gold Coast will not need to enter isolation camps in Sydney and can remain at home with their families.
Australia’s US ambassador says virus inquiry just about getting the facts
The Australian ambassador to the United States, Arthur Sinodinos, says calls to hold an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus are not about retribution or revenge. “My view is we have got a lot to learn from this, China has a lot to learn from this, we’ve all go a lot to learn by comparing how we did things and in the early stages working out what could have been done better,” he told Sky News on Saturday. “This is about getting the facts.” He said the call by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, for such an inquiry was “pretty sensible”. “We’ve had a major life-changing event, the biggest event probably of our lifetimes,” the former Liberal senator said. “We did it after the Ebola crisis a few years ago. The World Health Organization and other bodies looked at what lessons we could learn from that. We have got to do the same again.”
Virus cluster at a meat processing plant
A coronavirus cluster has been uncovered at a Melbourne meat processing facility, the state’s health minister, Jenny Mikakos, said on Saturday. Seven new cases were confirmed across the state, bringing the total to 1,371. Three of those new cases relate to a meat processing facility in Melbourne, with the facility reporting eight cases in total. Mikakos declined to name the business and said it had been closed for cleaning, while all staff were being tested.
The Australian government has urged any citizens or residents currently in Africa to get a flight out as soon as possible, if they can. “We have no plans to provide evacuation,” it said. “The government cannot guarantee you access to medical services if the situation gets worse.”
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