Enormous spike in Australian coronavirus cases takes national total to 1,022 – as Victorian Premier warns ‘hospitals WILL be overwhelmed’ if infection rates aren’t flattened as quickly as possible
- Victoria declared 51 new cases overnight, taking the nationwide toll to 1,022
- The state’s premier warned that hospitals could soon become overwhelmed
- It is the biggest overnight increase in coronavirus cases seen in Victoria so far
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged Australia would battle through the crisis
- The government has announced sweeping, nationwide COVID-19 restrictions
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Australia has seen an enormous overnight spike in coronavirus cases, taking the national total to 1,022.
It comes as the Victoria Premier, Daniel Andrews, warned that unless infection rates drop, hospitals will soon become overwhelmed.
‘If you’re in any doubt of how serious this is, switch your TV on and see what’s happening in other parts of the world,’ he told reporters on Saturday.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) warned citizens that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed
‘People are dying. We are going to get to a dark place.’
Victoria recorded 51 new cases overnight, taking the state’s total to 229, while three more cases were confirmed in the ACT.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 1,022
New South Wales: 436
Western Australia: 64
South Australia: 50
Australian Capital Territory: 9
Northern Territory: 3
TOTAL CASES: 1,022
Mr Andrews announced a $550 million business relief package to help those struggling to stay afloat during the crisis.
A payroll tax refund will be made available to 24,000 businesses small and medium-sized businesses.
It is hoped the cash will help keep about 400,000 workers employed.
The refunds are part of a wider $1.7 billion economic stimulus package, designed in consultation with the national cabinet.
‘The most important thing for businesses right now is cash to save them and their workers. This is all about helping businesses stay open and keeping as many people in work as possible,’ Mr Andrews said.
It comes as Australia’s borders closed overnight, meaning only citizens will be allowed in the country.
New social distancing rules were announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday, meaning fewer people can gather in restaurants, pubs and cafes.
‘It’s not about criticism, it’s an appeal for people to do their civic duty,’ Mr Andrews said.
People wait in line outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital on March 10 (pictured) to be tested for coronavirus
‘We cant have this spread more rapidly than would otherwise be the case.
‘We’ve got to take action to flatten the curve and make sure our hospital system doesn’t collapse.
‘Yes it will be an inconvenience, yes it will be frustrating, but it will save lives.’
He also encouraged the public to keep following guidelines from health officials, including washing hands and self isolating.
‘These sorts of things are simple but they make a powerful difference.’
LATEST RULES TO CONTROL CORONAVIRUS SPREAD
On Friday, Scott Morrison announced new rules for indoor spaces.
It means the number of people in a venue is dictated by the size of the room.
There needs to be four-square-metres per patron.
This means that if a venue is 100-square-metres, 25 people are allowed inside.
Event then, Australians are asked to try and keep 1.5 metres apart from one another.
The coronavirus death toll has topped 10,000 worldwide, doubling in one week, as the crisis continues to escalate in Europe.
Almost half of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred in Europe, with Italy now having confirmed more victims than China.
China, where the killer virus first emerged, accounts for a third of all victims, having battled the disease since December 2019.
More than 245,000 cases of the coronavirus have been reported across the globe, soaring from the 100,000 reported just two weeks ago.
Most patients (164,600) are outside of China, despite it originally reporting 90 per cent of all cases in the early days of the pandemic.
On Friday, the Australian government introduced new social distancing rules to help combat the virus.
The number of people allowed in an indoor venue will be dictated by its size, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed.
Announcing the new crowd restrictions, Mr Morrison said there will be a maximum limit of ‘four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space’.
When in a venue, patrons should try and sit a minimum of 1.5 metres away from one another.
He also warned a unprecedented ban may be brought in on domestic travel next week ahead of the school holidays – and pleaded with holidaymakers not to fly.
In drastic restrictions unseen since the Second World War, families everyday lives will be impacted for the next six months, as the country continues its COVID-19 fightback.
Passengers wait to check-in at the departures hall at the international airport in Sydney on March 18 (pictured)
‘That means we have to work even harder to keep a healthy distance between us all.
‘I know these rules will take some time for people to get used to, but I would ask people to move as quickly as they can.
‘I know it means a lot of change for a lot of venues, whether they be cafes or restaurants or clubs or any of these other places of public gathering, including at this building here.
‘We’ll be working to ensure that people know how many people can be in the various meeting rooms at this place.’
The Ruby Princess (pictured) docked at the cruise ship passenger terminal at Circular Quay on Thursday
It comes amid concerns about a cruise ship that was allowed to dock in Sydney on Thursday, with four passengers later testing positive for coronavirus.
Around 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark after the ship arrived in Sydney Harbour after a tour of New Zealand.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS DEVELOPMENTS
- Those in offices, restaurants or other spaces should ensure there is four square metres per person. So a room of 100 square metres should only have 25 people in it.
- All people should keep a minimum of 1.5 metres from other people.
- Schools to remain open.
- NAPLAN testing has been cancelled for 2020.
- From 9pm AEDT Friday, all non-Australian citizens or residents will be banned from entering the country. Direct family members will still be allowed.
- National cabinet will consider on Tuesday further travel restrictions which will apply in the Easter school holidays. But people planning holidays should ‘reconsider any unnecessary travel’.
- Banks have offered to defer loan repayments from small and medium sized businesses for six months, after the Reserve Bank cut interest rates to 0.25 per cent and took other steps to relieve pressure on lenders.
- Banks are also looking at easing pressure on mortgage holders.
- RBA governor Philip Lowe gave a presentation to the prime minister and premiers on Friday.
- The government is still working on a package to help businesses and those who find themselves out of work. The package is expected to be announced on the weekend.
- Federal budget has been delayed until October 6. States will also look at deferring their budgets.
- Government has ‘no plans’ to nationalise major companies that provide key services such as aviation.
- States and territories to nominate specific areas which will be subject to entry restrictions, to minimise the spread into vulnerable communities.
- Some travel exemptions will apply, including for medical treatment, food and medical supplies, mental health and domestic violence support and emergency services.
- States to identify greater protections for commercial and residential tenants. Model rules to apply in hardship cases.
- Rental assistance is expected to flow to people who are forced to move onto welfare payments.
- Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese to meet on Sunday to discuss future sittings of parliament.
- Parliament sits this coming Monday to debate and pass the virus-related economic stimulus package.
- All aged care workers will be tested.
- All health care workers with cold-like symptoms will be tested.