NEWS
15/04/2020 8:55 AM AEST | Updated 15/04/2020 12:36 PM AEST

Coronavirus In Australia: Scott Morrison Pleads With Teachers To Return To Schools

“The education of our children hangs in the balance.”

At least 6,400 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 62 people have died.

There are more than 1.9 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 121,000 people have died from it.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic today: 

1. Scott Morrison Pleads With Teachers To Return To Schools 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a direct plea to Australian teachers, asking them to return to classrooms and be the “great heroes” of Australia.  

In a televised address to the teachers of the nation, the PM said their place in society has “always been critical”, insisting teachers must join cleaners, supermarket staff and health workers on the frontline to fight Covid-19. 

“There are people doing just amazing jobs, great heroes,’’ he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison pleads with teachers to return to the classroom.

“Of course, in our health care system, our nurses and our doctors, our pathologists, the paramedics, right across the board, the cleaners in our hospitals all doing incredible work and we thank them for it.

“But there’s another group I want to talk about today, and that is our teachers. I want teachers to know from me, both as a parent and as a prime minister, just how appreciated you are and how important the job is that you’re doing right now and how much you are needed.”

The plea comes as several states prepare to embark on term two and adapt to remote digital learning. 

Students in Victoria will return to school today, studying from home using online teaching, amid large shutdowns due to coronavirus.  

“To ensure more kids can learn from home, the Government will loan more than 6,000 laptops and tablets to students who don’t have access to digital technologies,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ website said this month.

For schools that will remain open, Morrison said that the risk of Covid-19 spreading among school-age children is low and reminded Australia many disadvantaged families cannot take part in distance learning.

“Your students and their families are relying on you more than ever. The education of our children hangs in the balance,” Morrison said. 

“During these times, many students will continue distance learning. It’s a choice that they may have, some more than others. But we know for some families and students this won’t be possible. And their education, what they learn, is at great risk of suffering this year. This will particularly be the case for families who are disadvantaged and on lower incomes.”

2. ‘Mortified’ Aged Healthcare Worker Spreads Coronavirus 

An aged healthcare worker in Sydney’s west is “mortified” after spreading Covid-19 without realising she had it. 

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant confirmed there are now 10 confirmed cases – six staff and four residnts – from the Anglicare Newmarch House aged care facility in Caddens. 

“As you’re aware the first case reported there was in a healthcare worker who worked whilst she had very mild symptoms,” Dr Chant told media on Wednesday. 

“I have spoken to the director of the public health unit and this person is absolutely mortified. So, I think I would urge people to remember that the symptoms of COVID can be incredibly mild and the key point is do not go to work.

“It doesn’t matter how mild those symptoms are – runny nose, sore throat, just a scratchy throat in this case. Please don’t go to work.”

3. Kevin Rudd Slams Trump’s Decision To Cut WHO Funding 

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has slammed Donald Trump’s decision to cut US funding to the World Health Organisation, saying the US President is trying to “take attention away from his appalling lack of domestic preparedness” in dealing with the pandemic. 

“When I look at President Trump’s statement today, frankly I just shake my head,” Rudd said during TV interview on ABC News.

“And the reason is this President is seeking to find any opportunity any day to make a new media statement to take attention away from his appalling lack of domestic preparedness within the United States itself.

“The public record from President Trump, as you will be familiar, has been - in January and February to dismiss the virus altogether, even into March. So this is part of an ongoing political strategy on the President’s part to distract attention.”