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29 Mar 2020 16:09
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  •   Home > News > International

    Coronavirus update: Jacinda Ardern warns 'tens of thousands will die' if New Zealanders don't go into self-isolation, pubs and clubs close in Australia

    Pubs and clubs close in Australia, Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand as a whole must self-isolate, and a US senator who voted against bills funding the fight against coronavirus tests positive.

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is ordering New Zealanders into self-isolation, saying tens of thousands of people will die if the country does not act now.

    Pubs and clubs have started closing in Australia, Germany has banned social interactions between more than two people, and a US senator who voted against bills funding the fight against coronavirus has tested positive.

    This story is being updated regularly throughout the day. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.

    Monday's key moments

    Strict new rules come into effect in Australia

    Last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced new restrictions on public venues that he expected would be in place for "at least six months".

    The following businesses are no longer able to open after midday today (local time) to limit the spread of coronavirus:

    • Pubs
    • Clubs
    • Cinemas
    • Casinos
    • Nightclubs
    • Indoor places of worship
    • Gyms
    • Indoor sporting venues

    Cafes and restaurants will be able to operate, but only to offer takeaway and delivery services.

    Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand as a whole must go into self-isolation

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is ordering New Zealanders into self-isolation, saying tens of thousands of people will die if the country does not act now.

    "This is not a decision taken lightly. But it is our best chance to slow the virus and to save lives," she said.

    "Staying at home is essential. It's a simple, but highly effective, way to constrain the virus."

    The restrictions include:

    • Non-essential businesses in New Zealand must now close (all bars, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, pools, libraries, etc)
    • Takeaway services must also move to close their operations
    • Every workplace must implement alternative ways of working
    • Schools will be closed (but not to children of essential workers such as doctors)

    There are currently 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

    Minister says MyGov website was hit by cyber attack

    Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert says the MyGov website, the home of government services like Centrelink online, was hit by a "denial of service" cyber attack this morning.

    Denial-of-service attacks involve flooding a website with users, so that the site becomes overloaded.

    The same type of attack was used to bring down the Census website in 2016.

    Demand for MyGov services has risen dramatically, with many Australians who have been stood down due to extra coronavirus restrictions seeking access to unemployment benefits.

    Photos showed queues outside some Centrelink offices stretching around the block this morning.

    The Government is doubling dole payments as it seeks to cushion the economy from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

    Queensland becomes the latest state to close its borders

    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Cabinet has decided to close the state's borders.

    The initial stages will require any incoming travellers to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, but further measures could be imposed to physically restrict cross border travel to New South Wales.

    Earlier, Ms Palaszczuk said that people should "stay in your state and stay in your suburb".

    But she said local elections scheduled for March 28 would still go ahead.

    However, Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said there would be no sausage sizzles or fetes.

    "Just go straight in, vote, and straight out. The risk of doing that is absolutely minimal," she said.

    The number of coronavirus cases in Queensland has risen by 60 in the past 24 hours, to a total of 319.

    Australian athletes told to prepare for 2021 Olympic Games

    The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has told Australian athletes to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics to be delayed for a year.

    The AOC's executive board unanimously agreed that the coronavirus pandemic meant that an Australian team could not be assembled.

    The statement came just after the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) said it would not send its athletes to Tokyo in July.

    The COC said it was not safe for athletes, their families, and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for the Games.

    Earlier, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set a deadline of four weeks to decide what to do with the Games.

    The options being considered are postponing the Games or holding a scaled-down version, but the IOC has said that cancellation is not an option.

    Victorian schools closing, NSW wants parents to keep kids at home

    Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that he's bringing forward school holidays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, making today the last day of schoolfor pupilsbefore the start of the Easter break.

    But he says these holidays should not be treated as normal.

    "Every Australian has been advised not to undertake non-essential travel, and I'm advising every family that school holidays, where kids might be going and staying at friends' places, kids might be going to shopping malls and doing all the usual things, that is not appropriate," he said.

    Mr Andrews said Victorian families should still plan for term two to begin on April 14, but said the state was planning for "remote, flexible, distance learning" in case that became necessary.

    In New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said schools in the state would remain open, but encouraged parents to keep their children at home.

    "For parents that have no option, for parents that are workers, school is safe for children to attend and schools will remain open," she said.

    Ms Berejiklian said about one-third of children in the state were absent from school last week.

    States and territories go their own ways on schools

    These are some of the other announcements we've had on schools:

    • In Canberra, the ACT Government said most students should stay home from Tuesday onwards, but exceptions would be made for children of "essential" workers
    • In Tasmania, Premier Peter Gutwein said public schools would remain open "for the time being" and term dates would not change, but parents who wished to keep children home may do so from this Wednesday
    • In Queensland, schools will remain open until the last day of term (April 3), but parents can choose to keep their children at home
    • The NT Government says from tomorrow, for the rest of this term, the decision to send kids to school will be a choice for parents
    • In Western Australia, state schools will remain open until the end of term, but parents can choose not to send their kids

    ASX plunges after opening this morning

    At 10:20am AEDT, 20 minutes after the start of trade, the ASX 200 had fallen 8.20 per cent.

    At 2:10pm AEDT, it had regained some of the losses but was still down 5.63 per cent.

    It comes as large parts of the Australian economy shut down amid the worsening coronavirus outbreak, with the closure of non-essential businesses and some states shutting their borders.

    The Australian dollar is down 1 per cent to 57.4 US cents.

    Harvey Weinstein tests positive for coronavirus

    Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who is serving a prison sentence for sexual assault and rape, has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a union boss.

    Michael Powers, president of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, said the 68-year-old had been placed in isolation at Wende Correctional Facility.

    Mr Powers said he was concerned that prison staff, some of whom have been quarantined, lacked proper protective equipment.

    Weinstein arrived at Wende Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison east of Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday after being housed at New York City's Rikers Island jail.

    He was sentenced to 23 years in prison on March 11 for sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress.

    Victoria Police taskforce to enforce coronavirus shutdown

    Victoria has announced a special taskforce of 500 policeto enforce a shutdown of non-essential venues and businesses in the state.

    Premier Daniel Andrews said many Australians had been "acting selfishly" by ignoring social-distancing rules, and warned "people will die" if the measures were not followed.

    It comes as Victoria recorded another 59 cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 355.

    Germany bans groups of three or more, Merkel in quarantine

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced in a televised press briefing that Germany will ban public meetings of more than two people.

    "The great aim is to gain time in the fight against the virus," she said, citing an agreement between the federal government and regional states.

    For at least the next two weeks, people will not be allowed to form groups of three or more in public unless they live together in the same household, or the gathering is work-related.

    Ms Merkel went into quarantine on Sunday (local time) after coming into contact with a coronavirus-infected doctor.

    She will continue her work from home and will submit to repeated tests over the next few days, her spokesman said in a statement, adding it was too soon for a conclusive test yet.

    Germany has the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases globally at 23,794, based on data collated by Johns Hopkins University. The data also shows that 266 Germans have recovered from the virus, while 92 have died.

    North Melbourne football players apologise for 'inappropriate' party

    After the AFL postponed the season yesterday, North Melbourne players Nick Larkey and Cameron Zurhaar held a party at their Kensington home and hosted at least 10 people, according to two neighbours.

    Health officials have told Victorians to work from home if they can, avoid non-essential gatherings, and stay at least 1.5 metres away from others where possible.

    The AFL club said the players understood the party was "inappropriate in the current climate".

    Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said today that a shutdown of bars and pubs did not mean it was time to "have your mates around and get on the beers", and that risk-taking and not adhering to social-distancing advice could kill people.

    All McDonald's stores in the UK and Ireland to close

    McDonald's says all of its restaurants in the UK and Ireland will be closed by 7:00pm Monday local time at the latest, in order to protect its employees and customers.

    "This is not a decision we are taking lightly, but one made with the wellbeing and safety of our employees in mind as well as in the best interests of our customers," the company said in a statement.

    There are about 1,300 McDonald's restaurants in the UK, with approximately 120,000 employees.

    US senator tests positive, mobile hospital centres to be sent to California and New York

    Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who voted against bills to fund the fight against coronavirus, has tested positive for COVID-19.

    The announcement was made on the Trump ally's Twitter account:

    Mr Paul was among eight Senate Republicans who voted against a bill that provided more than $US100 billion ($173 billion) to boost testing for the coronavirus and guarantee paid sick leave for millions of workers.

    He was also the only Republican senator to oppose an earlier bill authorising $US8.3 billion ($14.4 billion) for the initial response to the pandemic.

    US President Donald Trump has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ship mobile hospital centres to the hard-hit American states of Washington, California and New York amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    For New York, that would mean another 1,000 hospital beds.

    State and local leaders have appealed to the White House to provide far more. Mr Trump has so far held off on using his full authorities under the Defence Production Act to marshal the private sector's capabilities.

    Deaths in Italy jump by 651 in 24 hours

    The number of deaths of people with coronavirus in Italy has jumped 651 to 5,476 in 24 hours, while new infections rose by 10 per cent to over 59,000.

    The head of Italy's Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, noted that the increases had narrowed from recent days.

    "We hope that this trend can be confirmed in the coming days. We should not lower our guard," he said.

    On Saturday (local time), the death toll rose by 793 and new cases increased by 6,557.

    UK citizens warned of tougher measures

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned Britain may need to impose curfews and travel restrictions to halt the spread of the coronavirus if people do not heed the Government's advice on social distancing.

    Pubs, clubs and gyms have already closed, but social media on Sunday was awash with pictures of people congregating in parks and food markets, apparently ignoring advice to stay two metres apart.

    "You've got to do this in line with the advice, you've got to follow the social distancing rule, keep two metres apart," Mr Johnson said at a news conference at Downing Street.

    Mr Johnson said tougher measures like curfews needed to be timed right for maximum impact.

    The latest official statistics show the UK's number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 5,683 on Sunday, up from 5,018 on Saturday — suggesting they are now rising more rapidly in Britain than they did in either China or Italy at the same stage, according to a Sky News analysis.

    Australia's case numbers

    The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia is 1,354.

    Here is a state-by-state breakdown of the cases:

    • NSW: 533 (six deaths)
    • Victoria: 296
    • Queensland: 259
    • WA: 120 (one death)
    • SA: 100
    • Tasmania: 22
    • ACT: 20
    • NT: 5

    These figures come from state and territory databases of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The latest update was at 7.35pm AEDT on Sunday, March 22.

    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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