news

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Monday April 13.

Tourism minister warns Australians may not be able to travel overseas until 2021.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has warned Australians they might not be able to travel overseas until 2021.

Senator Birmingham appeared on ABC News Breakfast this morning and hinted that international borders will remain closed for quite some time, possibly until well into 2021.

He said Australians should start ‘daydreaming’ and planning their domestic travel plans, despite there being no confirmed end date to the current lockdown.

“This is a time where, unfortunately, people can’t undertake holidays and they won’t be able to go overseas for some time to come,” he said.

“There may be a slightly earlier point in time where it becomes feasible to think about domestic travel again. We’re not there yet but certainly this time is a good time for a bit of dreaming, planning, thinking about the Aussie break that you might take when we finally get to the other side of this.”

Birmingham said Australians who had a trip planned for December should reconsider those plans now.

Australia’s death toll reaches 61.

The Australian death toll from COVID-19 has reached 61 after two further deaths were recorded overnight.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy did not give details on what states the deaths took place in.

He confirmed there were only 33 new cases of the virus across the country overnight, but cautioned this was most likely due to a downtrend in testing over the Easter long weekend.

NSW government announces $440m rental rescue package.

NSW residential and commercial tenants significantly impacted by COVID-19 will have greater protection from eviction, as the state government puts $440 million towards rent relief in the form of land tax waivers or rebates.

ADVERTISEMENT

The government’s six-month support package will include a moratorium on applications for forced residential evictions due to rental arrears for households financially disadvantaged by the pandemic.

Residential landlords and tenants will be required to negotiate rental payments in good faith in circumstances where a household has lost at least 25 per cent of its income because of the coronavirus.

Eligible tenants will be protected from eviction until the National Civil and Administrative Tribunal is satisfied negotiations have concluded, with any unpaid rent to accrue as arrears in that time.

Under the government’s $440 million package, residential landlords will be eligible for a land tax waiver or rebate of up to 25 per cent if they pass the saving on to tenants in financial distress.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said it was also important that eligible tenants would not be blacklisted for the accrual of rent arrears.

Measures relating to commercial leases will apply when businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million suffer a revenue drop of at least 30 per cent because of the pandemic.

Commercial landlords will have to negotiate rent relief agreements with such tenants by applying principles in a code of conduct previously announced by the prime minister.

The state government says it will introduce temporary legislation as soon as possible to give effect to the code, which says landlords can’t terminate a lease for non-payment of rent and must offer tenants rent relief proportionate to their loss of turnover.

Australia is “in a good place” but must keep virus pressure on.

Australia is “in a good place” in the fight against COVID-19 but the pressure must be kept up to beat the coronavirus, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says.

Professor Murphy on Sunday said there was nowhere else he would rather be than Australia at the moment, but people in the community are still transmitting COVID-19.

“That is why we have to keep our pressure on and make sure that we don’t end up like countries in the world that you have all seen on the news,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“We are in a good place… but we have to maintain that good place.”

While the coronavirus infection curve is flattening, Professor Murphy says it is still too early to relax strict social distancing rules.

“The scale of measures at the moment are something that we clearly do have to review … but it’s not now, it’s within the next few weeks,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think we need to look at all of the data, look at our preparedness, and the national cabinet will be making a lot of decisions about what if anything can be relaxed in the coming weeks.”

Professor Murphy said he would be very concerned if social restrictions were relaxed before public hospitals were fully prepared and the country had enough personal protective equipment.

“The thing that worries us most at the moment is complacency,” he said.

“Every single community transmission that’s undetected can infect a lot of people, and that’s why it is so important that we do maintain measures for the time being.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned it would be dangerous and unrealistic to remove social distancing restrictions too soon.

Frydenberg says the measures will stay in place for as long as it takes.

More than 1000 Tasmanians in quarantine as hospitals close.

Tasmania has closed two hospitals in the northwest and tightened the region’s retail restrictions to control a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

The North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital in Burnie, which are at the centre of coronavirus clusters involving 49 cases, will shut on Monday from 7am forcing more than 1000 people including hospital staff and their households to quarantine for two weeks.

The majority of patients will be transferred to the Mersey Community Hospital at nearby Devonport, so the hospitals can have a deep clean.

“We need to ensure that we can crush this virus at its source, and with this outbreak we need to take these steps,” Premier Peter Gutwein told reporters on Sunday evening.

There has been an increase of 11 COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s overall figure to 144. All these cases are from the northwest region.

Eight health care workers, one patient and two close contacts of people who previously tested positive are among the latest confirmed cases.

The state government aims to reopen the hospitals after two weeks. It hopes the emergency department, maternity, cancer and intensive care unit services can return after 72 hours.

Retailers in the northwest have also been hit with tougher restrictions.

From midnight on Sunday all shops not providing essential services or goods will be closed, including Kmart, Target and Harvey Norman.

ADVERTISEMENT

But pharmacies, supermarkets, service stations, newsagents, banks, vets and takeaway food outlets will be exempt.

The state recorded its fifth virus death on Sunday.

Australia’s deadly bushfires may have helped slow spread of COVID-19.

Image: Getty.

Australia began the year with devastating, deadly bushfires, but one of the most unexpected outcomes of the intense fire is that it may have helped stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Officially, finally, distinguished last month, the recent bushfire season burnt 18.6 million hectares of land, destroyed thousands of buildings and millions of wildlife and claimed more than 30 lives.

Tourist hotspots were hit hard, including NSW's south coast, the Blue Mountains and Kangaroo Island.

With images of flames and bright orange skies shown around the world, the bushfires saw a drop in international tourism by 10-20 per cent, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council.

Infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon told news.com.au this may have played a role in slowing the spread of the virus nationally.

"I think warm weather has protected us and the bushfires may also have done so.

"A lot less people came here and went elsewhere instead. So, perversely in retrospect the bushfires may have protected us," he said.

Boris Johnson discharged from hospital.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been discharged from hospital after almost a week.

ADVERTISEMENT

The UK Prime Minister was taken to St. Thomas’ Hospital in London last Sunday after complaining of persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a cough and a fever, 10 days after he was diagnosed.

A day later, he was moved into the ICU.

In a statement, Mr Johnson thanked healthcare workers for taking care of him.

He said he could have died hospital, if not for his medical team, particularly thanking two foreign nurses - Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal - who stayed by his side for 48 hours while he was on oxygen.

The Prime Minister left hospital but will not return to work immediately instead recuperating at his official country residence in Chequers.

ADVERTISEMENT


Mr Johnson’s fiancé, Carrie Symonds – who is pregnant with the pair's child – tweeted her thanks to the NHS Sunday after his release.

Despite Johnson's good news, the coronavirus death toll in the UK has risen to at least 10,352 including 657 people who died in England overnight.

Italy records fewest deaths in three weeks.

Italy's death toll has risen by 431, the lowest daily increase since March 19.

The number of people in intensive care has also declined for the ninth consecutive day, to 3343.

The number of officially confirmed cases is 156,363. Italy' death toll is now 19,899.

North Korea claims to be coronavirus free.

North Korea claims to have no confirmed coronavirus cases, but foreign experts remain sceptical given the high number of cases in its neighbouring countries and the way it trades via smuggling across borders.

Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's state media, said the virus has created obstacles to the country's economic construction, but North Korea "has been maintaining a very stable anti-epidemic situation" due to its "strict top-class emergency anti-epidemic measures".

Photos released showed a committee meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong Un, where no attendees wore masks or sat unusually far part from each other.

Comedy legend Tim Brooke-Taylor dies.

UK Comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor has died aged 79 after contracting coronavirus.

Brooke-Taylor, best known as part of 1970s comic trio The Goodies alongside Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, died on Sunday morning local time.

Read more: 

- With AAP. 

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home unless strictly necessary, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

Feature images: Getty and Twitter/@borisjohnson.

00:00 / ???