At least 2,300 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and eight people have died.
New South Wales has the highest statistic at 1,029 cases while Victoria has at least 466 cases. There are at least 443 in QLD, 175 in WA, 170 in South Australia, 39 in the ACT, 36 in Tasmania and six in the NT.
More than 162,000 people have been tested in Australia.
The virus has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace.
Here is what is happening in Australia today:
1. WA Enforces Booze Restrictions
The Western Australian government has introduced strict restrictions on the purchase of alcohol as the state struggles with the rise in cases of Covid-19.
WA had confirmed 175 cases on Wednesday.
Premier Mark McGowan introduced the new rules on Twitter and explained it was part of the strategy to free up the health care system of booze-related issues.
2. Elective Surgery Suspended
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Wednesday that all elective surgery other than Category 1 and urgent would be suspended from midnight March 25.
With advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), Morrison said the suspension of urgent Category 2 cases would be suspended in both the public and private hospital system.
“Cancellation of elective surgery will allow the preservation of resources like personal protective equipment and allow health services to prepare for their role in the COVID-19 outbreak,” the PM told media.
“Now, this had already largely been implemented for Category 1 and Category 2, and what this means is a further scaling back of those elective surgeries in Category 2.
3. Coordination Commission Announced, ScoMo Provides Lockdown Update
Morrison also said former Fortescue CEO Nev Power would lead a new Coordination Commission focusing on minimising and mitigating the impact of the coronavirus on businesses.
When asked by a journalist if a complete lockdown be enforced to avoid confusion, the PM said that would be a “reckless idea”.
“Well, you’re suggesting that I should close down businesses where there’s no medical advice that should?” he responded.
“I don’t understand why you would cause that harm to a business and their workers and livelihoods for the sake of a message convenience. I think that that would be quite reckless.
“What we’re seeking to do is put in place measures on a scalable bases.”
4. Virgin Cuts 90% Of Domestic Flights And 8,000 Staff
As state and territory travel restrictions come into effect amid the coronavirus crisis, Virgin Airlines has said it’s cutting 90% of its domestic flights.
The airline is grounding 125 aircraft and 80% of its workforce will be temporarily stood down. Those 8,000 staff have been encouraged to use leave, though leave without pay will be inevitable for many.
Essential services such as critical freight and logistics will continue using 10% of the airlines’ capacity.
On Tuesday the airline suspended all Tigerair Australia flights. Most domestic flights will be suspended from March 27 until June 14.
“There has never been a travel environment in Australia as restricted as the one we see today and the extraordinary steps we’ve taken have been in response to the federal and state governments’ latest travel advice,” said Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah.
“We are now facing what will be the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country’s history.”
5. South Australia Introduces ‘Health Heroes Hotel’
Premier Steven Marshall announced on Tuesday that SA that hotel facilities will be provided for front-line workers for social distancing purposes.
Marshall said this will give these people “piece of mind” and “instead of going home to their families, would stay in a hotel”.
The hotel rooms will have a bed, ensuite bathroom facilities and a kitchen.
“Some of them are anxious about whether they’ll spread it to other family members. They might have someone living at home with them who has fragile health and they want to be able to distance themselves,” the Premier in a press conference
The state government is currently speaking to hotel operators in SA to move toward implementation. “We’ll have this facility in place as we hit the peak of this disease,” he said.
6. Baby Tests Positive
Two Australian children under 10 have recorded positive tests for coronavirus.
NSW Health confirmed on Wednesday a two-month-old baby and a seven-year-old girl are among the record 211 new cases recorded in the state overnight. Further details here.