At least 6,457 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 63 people have died. There are 42 people on ventilators.
There are more than 2 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 128,000 people have died from it.
Here is what is happening in Australia with coronavirus today:
1. When Will Social Distancing Restrictions Lift?
Following Thursday’s National Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “there are some encouraging signs” regarding relaxing social distancing measures but any changes will be at least a month away.
“We want to be very clear with Australians, baseline restrictions we have in place at the moment, there are no plans to change those for the next four weeks,” Morrison told reporters at a press conference.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said if Australia moves too quickly to relax rules, the country could end up in “situations like we’ve all seen on the nightly news in high income countries with good health systems like the USA and the UK.”
He added: “We can’t afford to do relaxation until we have a public health system which is so finely tuned that it can detect and respond to any outbreak,” Murphy said.
Morrison said restrictions will remain in place until the government can achieve three goals; expand testing, improve its capacity to trace contacts of known coronavirus cases, and plan a response to any further local outbreaks.
Morrison said these three steps will be finished within four weeks, and Australia will then review the restrictions that include curtailing the movements of residents, and the closures of schools, restaurants and pubs.
2. Teachers Safety In Schools
The Prime Minister said decisions about schools are made by states and territories, and that the main “confusion” is surrounding the health risks for teachers as opposed to schools.
“The health advice has been consistent that for children schools are a safe space for children,” he said, adding seven statements or principles have been established to guide in future decision making around schools.
He explained “proper arrangements” need to be made to protect teachers in their work environments, “but at the same time that doesn’t lead to the same rules applying for students because they have a different level of risk”.
3. Australians Are Boozing 70% More
Aussies are reaching for the bottle to deal with coronavirus stress, according to a new data released Thursday.
The YouGov Galaxy study found we’re purchasing more alcohol, drinking earlier in the day and a third of Australians are drinking everyday.
“We found that one in five households are purchasing more alcohol and when we looked at these households we found 70% are drinking more and that a third are worried about the drink or the drinking of someone in their household,” FARE CEO Caterina Giorgi told ABC 24.
The research, commissioned by Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), suggested anxiety issues around the coronavirus pandemic was a reason people were drinking more.
“More than 25% of those people who are buying more saying they are drinking more because of anxiety,” Giorgi added.
“We know that drinking alcohol actually makes anxiety worse and it contributes to mental health problems down the track. We also found that these people are drinking earlier in the day and they are more likely to drink daily and that contributes to larger problems down the track including alcohol dependence and alcohol-fuelled chronic diseases like cancer.”