Bondi virus outbreak: Backpackers spread COVID-19

 

NSW authorities have confirmed there's been a coronavirus outbreak among backpackers in Bondi, in Sydney's east, after hundreds were captured ignoring social distancing measures.

Dr Kerry Chant confirmed there had been an outbreak of COVID-19 among backpackers in Bondi, in Sydney's east.

"We know there is a potential risk that other members of the community may have come in contact with infected backpackers," she said.

"We have had a small number of cases in that community where there aren't obvious links, but a plausible explanation is they have come into contact with an infected backpacker before that backpacker was aware they had COVID-19."

It comes as Australia records 4363 cases of coronavirus with 19 deaths.

As of Tuesday morning there were 2032 in NSW, 821 in Victoria, 689 in Queensland, 305 in South Australia, 355 in Western Australia, 69 in Tasmania, 78 in the Australian Capital Territory and 15 in the Northern Territory.

Globally, there have been nearly 740,000 cases of the disease recorded with more than 35,000 deaths. The US and Europe are now the epicentre of the outbreak, which began in mainland China in late December 2019.

  1h agoMarch 31, 2020HIGHLIGHT

'You're in a lockdown wherever you live'

Gavin Fernando

NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller has clarified the rules for staying in holiday houses.

Asked if one can get into a car and drive to their holiday house down the coast, he said: "No. And if you do that, and you've done that, that's where you're staying."

"So we're effectively in a Sydney lockdown?" the journalist asked.

"No no," he said. "You're in a lockdown wherever you live. Wherever your primary home is, that's where we want you to stay, unless you're getting food or going to the doctor's."

He went on: "Our health system is based on where our population is spread. We have big hospitals and small hospitals. If everyone floods to the South or North coast and the virus spreads, the health system is not designed to manage that. Locals are concerned as well - they're following the isolation rules."

  1h agoMarch 31, 2020HIGHLIGHT

13 people in NSW fined for breaching distancing rules

Gavin Fernando

NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed police have issued 13 fines since the public health directives came in.

He also gave some further clarification on the new restriction of movement being enforced in NSW from today.

"If you need to exercise, we get it - go for a walk, sensibly, on your own.

"You can still meet a personal trainer if you have to. The reality is, if you need to go to the shops to get some food, absolutely acceptable. If you need to go to the chemist or see your GP, all of these things are absolutely acceptable."

He went on: "But the reality is the messaging that the Premier and Chief Health Officer that had been given over the last weeks and months has not been getting through to some people. What does that mean? It means that the virus continues to spread, puts people's lives at risk, puts the health system under pressure.

"So as of today, police will continue to be out there, working with the community, but we will be engaging in terms of people who are acting outside of what the health warnings are."

  1h agoMarch 31, 2020HIGHLIGHT

'Outbreak among Bondi backpackers'

Gavin Fernando

Dr Kerry Chant confirmed there had been an outbreak of COVID-19 among backpackers in Bondi, in Sydney's east.

"We know there is a potential risk that other members of the community may have come in contact with infected backpackers," she said.

"We have had a small number of cases in that community where there aren't obvious links, but a plausible explanation is they have come into contact with an infected backpacker before that backpacker was aware they had COVID-19.

"Out of an abundance of caution we want to increase testing rates and introduce some pop-ups to increase our testing. That will assure ourselves of the extent of community transmission.

"The aim of that is if we can rapidly identify cases, we can then identify the contacts of those cases, and prevent any onward transmission in the community."

According to NSW Health, the 'South Eastern Sydney' region - which Bondi falls under in this categorisation - has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state at 450.

This region has conduced 14,549 tests altogether, with 46.92 cases per 100,000 residents.

  2h agoMarch 31, 2020HIGHLIGHT

114 new cases in NSW

Gavin Fernando

NSW has announced 114 new cases of the virus, taking the state's total to 2032.

Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant called for "increased testing particularly in areas where there's community transmission or around clusters", adding that despite the declining positive cases, we need to "remain cautious".

  2h agoMarch 31, 2020HIGHLIGHT

'We are at the serious stage of the virus': NSW Premier

Gavin Fernando

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has doubled down on NSW's strict new measures, saying: "We are at the serious stage of the virus."

"We know the number of cases in NSW are increasing, as are the number of cases of community transmission," she said at a Sydney press conference today. "It's really important for us to maintain that level of control in containing it as much as possible."

Under the new rules, anyone in NSW who leaves their house without a "reasonable excuse" can now cop six months in jail or an $11,000 fine under strict new measures announced last night.

The Premier said there is still a concerning "level of unknown", noting there have been localised breakouts in Sydney's eastern suburbs of Bondi and Waverley.

"That's the threat. Community-to-community transmission is the unknown threat we might not know about."

"No one wants to have to issue on-the-spot fines to people," she added. "But lives are at stake, and all of us have to accept that the world is different."

2h agoMarch 31, 2020

Hidden virus symptom to look for

Young people infected with the coronavirus often slip through the net because they don't have the official symptoms of dry cough, fever and shortness of breath.

But new research has found an increasing number of young patients classified as asymptomatic share a common affliction - a loss of their sense of smell and taste, a condition known as anosmia or hyposnia (partial loss).

The data is so compelling that British experts are pushing for anosmia to be recognised as a symptom for "hidden carriers" facilitating the rapid international spread of COVID-19, the deadly pneumonia caused by the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

- Marnie O'Neill

2h agoMarch 31, 2020HIGHLIGHT

Australia will be paying 'for years to come'

Gavin Fernando

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned Australia "will be paying for years to come" when the COVID-19 crisis is over.

"That is the harsh reality of the spending that is required in this coronavirus crisis," he told Today this morning. "But many other countries just don't have the financial fire power that Australia has to respond."

Asked about businesses that are inoperable due to restrictions and closures, he said: "This is the harsh reality of the health restrictions that we need to put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Unless we put these rigid restrictions in place, we will see more lives lost here, and our first priority is to see lives saved."

Businesses are rushing to sign up to the federal government's $130 billion plan to subsidise wages during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Treasurer said around 60,000 businesses had already signed up for the scheme announced on Monday, on the tax office website.

The scheme will see employees receiving a flat-rate payment of $1500 per fortnight through their employers in a bid to lessen the economic blow caused by coronavirus. Payments will commence May 1 but will be backdated.

It applies to full and part-time workers, sole traders, as well as casuals who have been on the books for at least 12 months.

The subsidies will last for six months.

Asked to address concerns from businesses that they won't have cash flow until May 1, the Treasurer said:

"This is the Tax Office telling these businesses that they will have this money flow because we will be paying it a month in advance and they should go and see their bank.

"They will already have lines of credit with their bank and their banks will be understanding in this situation."


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