Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Federal Parliament suspends inquiry into migration in regional Australia until later in 2020




The Joint Standing Committee on Migration has decided to suspend its inquiry into migration in regional Australia, in light of the economic effects of the public health situation changing the nature of the needs of communities in regional Australia.
“Given the fast evolving situation in Australia and around the world, and the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Committee felt it best to suspend its inquiry,” Mr Julian Leeser MP, Committee Chair said. “The Committee was unanimous in this decision, which it does not take lightly.”
“The Committee will reconsider the matter later in 2020 but would like to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to the inquiry so far. Your input and dedication to supporting and developing Australia’s regions is greatly appreciated.”
Any questions about the suspension of the inquiry should be directed to migration@aph.gov.au.

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop


Across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop.

The Daily Examiner, 26 March 2020:

Mosaic Brands, which owns Rivers, Millers, Noni B, Autograph, Crossroads and Rockmans, among others, announced it would be closing its stores as of yesterday evening and stood down 6800 staff.

When The Daily Examiner contacted one local retailer affected by the announcement, staff had not yet been told they would be stood down.

The move will have significant ramifications for the Clarence, with at least eight stores being affected, seven of which are situated in Grafton Shoppingworld.

Carol Durrant, assistant manager at Rockmans on Prince St, said while the impact could be “disastrous” for the local economy in the long term, it was not unexpected.

She said there had been a significant decline in the number of shoppers during the past week.

“Well, we knew it had to come as both my daughters are in retail in Queensland and they had been shut for the last week – it had to come,” she said.

Ms Durrant said the downturn in shoppers was a sign the community understood the new social distancing measures.

“I think people are realising it is non-essential and we haven’t seen a soul all day,” Ms Durrant said.

“They are really getting the message.” For anyone who ventured into Grafton Shoppingworld it was impossible not to notice the impact the pandemic was having at a local level.

The chairs have been removed from the food court with the recently announced ban on indoor eateries and there were few people out shopping.

Mosaic Brands said in their announcement the measures were temporary. “All team members affected by the store closures will be stood down with access to leave entitlements while the group reviews government support schemes that may be available to them,” they stated.

“The group has recently seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue, a direct result of the community’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the government’s social distancing recommendations.” A Grafton Shoppingworld spokesperson said the announcement would affect seven stores in the centre but noted the centre would remain fully open.

“The centre is constantly liaising with all relevant authorities and will follow all directives in regard to its operation to ensure a safe environment for all,” the spokesperson said.....


Saturday, 28 March 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: NSW local government elections postponed for twelve months from September 2020


Shelley Hancock – Minister for Local Government, media release,  25 March 2020:

Local Government Elections

The NSW Government has made the regrettable decision to postpone the September local government elections for 12 months in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local government elections are a vital part of the democratic process, ensuring local councils are accountable to their local communities.
Therefore, the decision to postpone them has not been taken lightly but is necessary to ensure the health and safety of voters, NSW Electoral Commission staff and election candidates.
The decision follows Parliament passing amendments to the Local Government Act to provide me with the power to postpone the elections.
The NSW Electoral Commissioner has also requested that the Government postpone the council elections.
This decision provides certainty for local councils, communities and election candidates.
The postponement of the next round of council elections will not change the future schedule of council elections, and the subsequent elections will still proceed in September 2024
Mayoral elections will still be held in 2020.

Cartoons of the Week


Matt Golding
Mark David

Peter Broelman

Fiona Katauskas

Friday, 27 March 2020

COVID-19 advice to the Morrison Government - details of which it never expected the general public would become aware


"The reduction in doubling time is an indicator that the window for proactive intervention is very small." 

At the current rate of infection Australia could theoretically expect over 6,000 COVID-19 cases by next week and over 50,000 by Easter.
https://www.scribd.com/document/453163428/Group-of-Eight-Expert-Advice-on-Social-Distancing-requested-by-Australian-Government

COVID-19 cases quickly climbing in the NSW Northern Rivers region


COVID-19 infection rose from 7 to 17 cases within a 24 hour period in the NSW Northern Rivers region. Total number of cases now stands at 22 individuals.

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD), media release, 24 March 2020:

10 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) since our last update, bringing the District’s total to 17 cases.
The Public Health Unit is in the process of contacting close contacts, and investigations are underway to determine the sources of these cases.
The confirmed cases to date are spread across the length of the Local Health District, from Clarence right up to the Tweed Valley.
We’d like to thank those who have been cooperating with our Public Health Officers to date, working with our staff and self-isolating correctly at home.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is for all our community to heed the advice of authorities in efforts to slow the transmission of the virus.
It’s critical to adhere to self-isolation guidelines if you’ve been instructed by health authorities or mandated to quarantine as a result of overseas travel.
For general members of the public, the most important things you can do at the moment are:
  • practising good hygiene – hand washing or sanitising, and coughing/sneezing into a tissue which you then discard
  • staying at home if you’re sick
  • minimising close contact with others by following the social distancing measures.
It’s also important to remember that locations where cases live, work or have visited don’t pose an ongoing risk to members of the public. If you are considered a close contact of a confirmed case, a Health officer will contact you directly.
COVID-19/flu clinics
COVID-19/flu clinics are established at The Tweed Hospital, Lismore Base Hospital and Grafton Base Hospital, open from 10am to 6pm daily.
These clinics are for those most at risk with respiratory symptoms or fever, those returning from overseas or in contact with a COVID-19 case, or people like our health workers. It is vital that these respiratory clinics are not overwhelmed with people who are not in the high risk groups, which could result in delays identifying those most vulnerable. People without symptoms do not need to be tested.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, headache, runny nose, or shortness of breath. Anyone with symptoms should isolate themselves from others.
Identification and isolation of contacts is a critical measure that limits the spread of COVID-19. Compliance with self-isolation by all contacts and returned travellers is essential.
When social distancing actions are combined with good personal hygiene measures the spread of an epidemic through the community can be slowed.
This helps protect the most vulnerable members of the community. It also reduces the impact of the epidemic on essential, life-saving health services by reducing the size of the peak of the epidemic so health services can continue to provide high quality care to all patients.
Everybody must play their part.
For advice and information about COVID-19 visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx
Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD), media release, excerpt, 26 March 2020:

As at 8pm Wednesday 25 March there were five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents of the Northern NSW Local Health District. This brings the District’s total to 22.
The new cases are:
  • Case 18 – currently not residing in Northern NSW LHD, in home isolation
  • Case 19 – in home isolation after returning from overseas
  • Case 20 – in home isolation after returning from overseas
  • Case 21 – in home isolation, source currently being investigated
  • Case 22 – in home isolation, source currently being investigated
The Public Health Unit is following up close contacts of cases who are located within NNSWLHD, who are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days from last contact with the confirmed case.
They will be contacted daily to check that they are well and anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms will be tested for the virus.
If you are considered a close contact of a confirmed case, a Health officer will contact you directly.
 The cases for NNSWLHD include:
  • 15 overseas acquired cases
  • 2 contacts of a confirmed case/ or in a known cluster
  • 2 contact not identified
  • 3 under investigation – source unknown
Of these previous 17 cases, 14 are currently in self-isolation at home and two are in hospital. One person is considered to have recovered.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Pubs are closing all over the Clarence Valley as pandemic containment measures come into effect


Grafton Hotel

The Daily Examiner, 24 March 2020:

Fitzroy Street was filled with the sweet sounds of bagpipes at noon yesterday as Grafton Hotel closed its doors indefinitely. 

Steve Smith received a call from his wife late last night following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that several businesses, including licensed pubs and clubs, would close in a bid to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. 

Grafton Hotel regular and piper Peter Lougher marked the occasion with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne on Fitzroy St at noon, surrounded by staff and regular patrons. 

Mr Smith said the ­shutdown, which could be in place for as long as six months but will be reviewed monthly, was a “kick in the guts” for many people who would no doubt feel the long term impacts of the ­closure...

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stresses that in ramping up pandemic compliance measures harsh penalties will apply to persons who disobey instructions to self-isolate


ABCNews, 24 March 2020:

Good morning, everybody. NSW is at a critical stage in relation to the virus. We need to make sure the spread stops. We need to make sure everybody who's in self-isolation stays in self-isolation.

We are ramping up our compliance. We're making sure that people are followed up. If they're supposed to be in self-isolation and they're not, there are harsh penalties and we'll enforce that.

We have to take this seriously.

And if NSW citizens follow the health advice, which is if you're self-isolating, stay in self-isolation, that includes contacts, direct contacts of people who have been diagnosed with the virus. If you are under those instructions, please, please follow those instructions. Do not go out into the community.

The quicker we stop the spread, the more handle, the more control we'll have over this virus.

And as the Chief Medical Officer will update the community this morning, we have had an increase — a substantial increase — in the number of cases again overnight. I don't want to see that number going up as rapidly.

We have to contain the spread, and this is exactly the critical time in NSW for that to occur.

I also want to thank the NSW Police Force for their contribution in relation to containing the spread, and making sure people are complying.

We know it's a tough time for many in the community, and my heart breaks for those businesses that had to shut their doors. My heart breaks for people who don't have a job anymore.

But please be assured that all governments are working hard to provide support to help all of us get through the next few months. It will be difficult.

I also want to thank our school communities. For many people, they had to change what they were doing, or think about what they were doing, and I want to thank our teachers and I want to thank our parents and school communities for the way in which they've responded to the Government's direction yesterday.

This is a difficult time for us, but I'm confident NSW will control as much as we can the spread of this virus, so long as everybody steps up and does what they need to do.

But we are at a critical stage, and I can't emphasise that enough.

Reporter: Premier, do you accept that it is unacceptable, the level of confusion that you've caused over schools?

Premier: Look, our direction in schools is very clear. I'll ask the Minister for Education to also discuss how school communities are adapting. Schools stay open. If you need to send your child to school, schools stay open.

However, we are recommending at this time that parents keep their children at home. And I said that yesterday, and I say that again today.

We appreciate, we appreciate what a challenging time this is for everybody, but we know for practical reasons a third of parents were keeping their kids at home last week. Yesterday, that number went up substantially, even before the messaging around what we were recommending.

And we also appreciate - and let me be frank, based on health advice, we don't know what the next five or six weeks will look like.

We are entering a period where our schools are about to go into school holidays, and it's appropriate for us to make sure we get the home learning up and ready.

This has been a good chance for us, an opportunity for us, to make sure that whether it's through web-based tools or whether it's through home learning, that we have the systems in place to support our children, to support our students, given what we might face into the future.

Good government means prudent planning, it means making sure you have a no-regrets policy. And I have a no-regrets policy. I'm incredibly pleased with the decisions we've taken to date. I don't regret any of them because I believe they're in the best interests of our citizens, and I continue to make decisions based on the best interests of our citizens, because we are in uncertain times.

I want to look back and think that every time we made a decision it was the right one for our people. And I don't care what criticism I get. Throw it at me, because I'm doing it because I believe it's in the best interests of the citizens of NSW.

We are a different state to the rest of Australia. We have the most people returned from overseas. We have the highest number of cases. We have the highest concentration. But to give you assurance, we also have the highest rates of testing, and that's what's giving me comfort.

Reporter: Is there something that's prompted this new warning from the two of you today about self-isolation?

Premier: Yes, because if you look around the world, if you see how the virus is getting out of control around the world, if you see the huge escalation in deaths, many countries did not control the spread at this stage of the virus. Right?

We can tell from our numbers — and they're going up quite significantly every day — but many countries did not take some of the actions this early on in the process in order to control the spread.

I don't want to be another example of a jurisdiction that didn't do what it needed to do at the right time. And I've got an outstanding chief medical officer, and her advice means everything to me. But so does my ability to make decisions for my citizens.

Again, I don't care what criticism I get, I will do what's right for our people.

Reporter: Can we just get clarification on the school issue? Is it a recommendation or a directive? I got a note from our school principal saying, "Do not send your children to school unless you, as in parents, are in emergency services and essential service"?

Premier: We've said schools are open. Schools are open and a safe place.

We know that for some families, they have no option to keep their children at home during this time. I appreciate that, but schools are a safe place.

And they're even safer when there's less children there, for the teachers, right?

So, we know that the decision we've taken is the best one for NSW, for practical reasons. We knew already the level of concern in the community was there, because at least a third of parents...

Reporter: Premier, did you hear his question? He said his principal said not to turn up at school unless they're [in] emergency...

Premier: I will ask the Minister for Education to talk about [that]... certainly the communication I've seen has been very clear. And I know both the secretary and the minister have met with all our stakeholder communities yesterday.

Reporter: Do you accept how ridiculously conflicting it is for a parent to get a note that says, "You can only send your child to school if you're an emergency services essential worker", when you're standing up here, saying, "That's not the case"?

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell: The message is clear. School is open for those who need to attend.

We have said to our school principals, you need to communicate to your school families, parent communities and carers about what they need to do.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Because the number of graphs are proliferating in mainstream and social media, here are two official Australian Government graphs


Because the number of graphs are proliferating in mainstream and social media, here are two official Australian Government graphs.


This graph shows the number of confirmed cases by notification date. Interpret the most recently reported new cases shown in the graph with caution as there can be delays in reporting.

Age breakdown as of 24 March 2020.

As of 24 March 2019 there were 2,136 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 8 have died from this novel viral infection. More than 143,000 COVID-19 tests had been conducted across Australia, according to the Australian Dept. of Health.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Balancing the spin coming from the Morrison Government


The suspicion cannot be avoided that the Australian Prime Minister and certain of his cabinet ministers are once again actively backgrounding against their state counterparts.

Last time it was during the mega bushfires of 2019-20. This time it is in relation to COVID-19 policy responses and their implementation.

Perhaps now is the time to record for North Coast Voices readers some of the media releases issued by the NSW Berejiklian Government

Media Releases from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and other state ministerial/departmental sources [my yellow highlighting]


23 March 2020

The NSW Government has taken significant new steps to increase restrictions across the state – triggering the next level of enforcement necessary to fight COVID-19.

Following the decisions made by National Cabinet, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the shutdown to protect NSW citizens.

I understand many in the community are worried, and these changes will affect everyday lives, and may be upsetting,” Ms Berejiklian said.

But these decisions will make us all safer, they are taken with the health of all citizens in mind, and they must be taken now.

If you have the capacity to work from home, you should do so.”

In line with health advice, from midday today, the following non-essential activities and businesses will be temporarily shut down:
  • Pubs, registered clubs
  • Gyms, indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship (excluding small weddings and funerals that comply with the 4m2 rule, which can proceed).
  • It is important to note essential gatherings at places such as hospitals, workplaces, constructions sites and for public transport are exempt and will continue.
As confirmed last night by the Prime Minister schools will remain open, based on health advice, which has not changed.

But from tomorrow, in NSW, for practical reasons, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.

Because nearly 30 per cent of children are already being kept out of school, for practical reasons NSW is encouraging parents to keep their children at home,” Ms Berejiklian said.

This will ensure there is only one unit of work [online teaching], whether the student is at home or at school.

No child will be turned away from school.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

22 March 2020


Please attribute to a NSW Health spokesperson:

NSW assessments on cruise ships entering our ports has exceeded Federal Government protocols and was doing so, well in advance of the National Protocol*, that was issued on March 6 2020.

Notwithstanding that, the Federal Government has not increased any protocol procedures relating to cruise ships since March 6.

Today, the NSW Government further enhanced its procedures to minimise the risk of passengers with any respiratory conditions whatsoever from departing cruise ships until COVID-19 tests can be carried out on onshore laboratories.

Since February 14, NSW Health has applied assessment procedures to all 63 ships entering Sydney Harbour. The National Protocol does not direct jurisdictions to do such assessments but instead, leave it to the State’s discretion.

Contrary to some public statements made, every cruise liner that has entered NSW ports has been the subject of an assessment well beyond Federal requirements.

The National Protocol states “provided there are no concerns about the COVID-19 risk profile of a ship or suspected COVID-19 cases reported, the human bio-security officer may advise the bio-security officer that pratique can be granted and the ship may be allowed to continue the voyage while samples are being tested”.

NSW Health undertook a full assessment of the Ruby Princess, notwithstanding under the National Protocol in place, it could have chosen not to do an assessment.

NSW Health again followed the National Protocol that states “the ship may be allowed to continue the voyage while samples are being tested”.

However, as of midnight March 22, NSW Health will go even further beyond the National Protocol and its current own State protocols and will hold all cruise ships in port until any patients highlighted as having respiratory issues are tested for COVID-19.

The increased testing regime follows 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from the Ruby Princess, including 17 passengers and 1 crew member diagnosed in NSW, and 8 passengers diagnosed interstate (as of 8 pm yesterday).

*National Protocol for Managing Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Risk From Cruise Ships; published March 6 2020.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
22 March 2020

Tonight I will be informing the National Cabinet that NSW will proceed to a more comprehensive shutdown of non-essential services. This will take place over the next 48 hours.

Supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics, and home delivery will be among the many services that will remain open.

Schools will be open tomorrow, though I will have more to say on this issue in the morning.

I will update NSW tomorrow morning about the impacts and our plans following the National Cabinet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

20 March 2020

Supermarkets across the state are now able to receive deliveries 24 hours a day to restock their shelves under new rules introduced by the NSW Government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government had moved to override local council rules that restrict some stores from restocking their shelves and operating their loading docks outside regular business hours.

We need to make sure these products can move from factories to shelves as quickly as possible,” Ms Berejiklian said.

We are moving quickly so truck drivers can make deliveries to supermarkets around the clock.

It is important that people now stop unnecessary panic buying.”

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (COVID-19 Response) 2020 makes clear that truck deliveries are able to supply shops and retailers with essential goods at all times to support communities.

Councils and retailers have been working well together to allow greater flexibility in delivery hours, and this change gives everyone the certainty we need to ensure these deliveries can continue,” Mr Stokes said.

The SEPP makes clear that truck deliveries are able to supply shops and retailers with essential goods at all times.”

The new rules apply immediately and will be kept in place until the crisis is over.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

17 March 2020

The NSW Government today announced a major $2.3 billion health boost and economic stimulus package to protect the community and help protect jobs in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak over the next six months.

This package has two key components: $700 million in extra health funding and $1.6 billion in tax cuts to support jobs.

Key elements of the NSW COVID-19 package announced today include:

Health boost
  • $700 million extra funding for NSW Health. This will assist in doubling ICU capacity, preparing for additional COVID-19 testing, purchasing additional ventilators and medical equipment, establishing acute respiratory clinics and bringing forward elective surgeries to private hospitals.
Business support and jobs
  • $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20). This means these businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in 2019-20.
  • $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21
  • $80 million to waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies
  • $250 million to employ additional cleaners of public infrastructure such as transport assets, schools and other public buildings
  • More than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing
  • $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government’s package bolstered the health system, cuts taxes for business that employed tens of thousands of people across the State, and would help secure jobs at a very challenging time.

Our first priority is always the health of the people of this State and looking after their families and jobs,” Ms Berejiklian said.

This package works hand-in-hand with the recent moves by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Federal Government. It will provide more resources to help slow the spread of this virus and boost treatment for those people in our community who need it most.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW package would help businesses struggling with a once-in-a-generation event.

The Government stands ready to do whatever it takes to keep people safe and ensure our economy withstands this storm,” Mr Perrottet said.

Today we are injecting $700 million into the health system and almost $1.6 billion to boost business. In simple terms, this money will help save the lives of loved ones and protect jobs.

We are supporting business by lowering their costs through tax cuts and fee reductions, and working to boost jobs by funding ready-to-go capital work and maintenance projects as a priority.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the Government was doing whatever it took to support front line health workers, and urged people to follow important safety messages.

Our health workers are doing an amazing job,” Mr Hazzard said.

This extra funding backs the work of our doctors, nurses, allied health staff, ambulance officers and support staff in the fight to prevent the spread of and prepare for COVID-19.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Australian Government has announced the following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
Gyms and indoor sporting venues
Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).