Coronavirus Australia latest: at a glance | World news

Key Australian developments in the global coronavirus outbreak on Thursday include:

Australia now has 607 confirmed cases

New South Wales accounts for the majority of the cases with 307 in total, adding 40 more since yesterday.

State by state coronavirus cases

Australia to close borders to all non-citizens and non-residents

Anyone who is not a citizen or resident, or close family member of a citizen or resident, will be denied entry to Australia.

The travel ban will apply from Friday night, 20 March.

Prime minister Scott Morrison also indicated a second stimulus would come, including income support for people who lose their jobs during this crisis that could last six months at least.

Qantas stands down two-thirds of workforce

Qantas announced it would stand down 20,000 workers and ground its international fleet from the end of March as the airline copes with the downturn as a result of coronavirus and travel restrictions. Qantas workers will be forced to use their leave while the airline is not flying at full capacity.

The airline’s shares fell 10.9% this morning, however CEO Alan Joyce says the airline will not go bust.

Virgin had already announced it would ground its fleet, but today told frequent flyer customers it would provide status credits to their account, and extend their current status for a year.

RBA announces emergency rate cut and policy decisions

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut the cash rate to 0.25% in response to the ongoing pandemic, and says it will not adjust the rate until progress is made to full employment (4.5% unemployment, currently at 5.1%) and inflation sustainably in the 2-3% target band.

It will also set up a term-funding facility for the banking system with support for credit to small and medium sized businesses.

Exchange settlement balances at the RBA will be remunerated at 10 basis points rather than zero.

The RBA says Australia’s financial system is “resilient and well placed” to deal with the effects of coronavirus and the banking system is well capitalised and in a strong liquidity position.

Tasmania locks down from Friday

The Tasmanian government will only allow essential visitors to the Apple Isle to not isolate for 14 days upon their arrival, that includes residents of Tasmania. As a result, Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has said she will not be returning to parliament next week for the sitting to pass stimulus measures.

Medicine restrictions

Despite there being no supply shortage of medicines, the federal government will place restrictions on the amount of over-the-counter medicine people can buy to try to stop the panic buying that is clearing the shelves at the moment.

Medicines including Ventolin and paracetamol will be restricted to one purchase a person, and pharmacies will be encouraged to limit dispensing of all other medicines to one month’s supply or unit.

Pharmacies will also be required to put children’s paracetamol behind the counter.

Brisbane immigration detention centre guard tests positive

A Serco immigration detention centre guard working at a hotel at Kangaroo Point that is being used by Australian Border Force to house refugees brought to Australia for medical treatment has tested positive for coronavirus.

Refugees being held there were informed on Wednesday night.

Funding for Victorian hospitals

The Victorian government has announced $437m in funding for hospitals, including 129 new beds and medical equipment including masks, gloves, and ventilators.

Australians trapped overseas

Australians trapped in Peru are frantically trying to raise $300,000 to charter a flight to get back to Australia, as airports and countries around the world go into lockdown.

David Littleproud criticises Facebook and eBay

Emergency management minister David Littleproud has accused eBay and Facebook of hosting “parasites”, people who are hoarding supplies such as toilet paper and food and selling them at marked up prices to profit from the panic.

David Littleproud

March 19, 2020

Home affairs minister Peter Dutton, still in isolation, has said he will send in the police and border force to investigate panic-buying, which he believes has a criminal motive.

Scott Morrison has used the threat of withdrawing funding to keep independent and Catholic schools open.


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