ADF members in isolation after testing positive

The coronavirus death toll in Australia has risen to three after a man in his 80s died in NSW.

The 82-year-old, who contracted the virus from an infected aged care worker in her 50s at BaptistCare's Dorothy Henderson Lodge in Macquarie Park, died overnight, NSW Health chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said.

The man's death follows that of a 95-year-old woman who was also a resident at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care home and a 78-year-old man in Perth who had been a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

 

A second resident of the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility in Ryde has died. Picture: Gaye Gerard
A second resident of the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility in Ryde has died. Picture: Gaye Gerard

 

Two Australian Defence Force personnel have contracted the deadly coronavirus and are now in isolation.

The ADF is now focusing efforts on tracing the contact the officers who had travelled to a meeting at the Defence headquarters on February 28.

"Defence is cooperating with NSW and ACT Health authorities to contact, isolate, test and support persons involved," a spokesman said.

All Defence personnel and workers who present with cold or flu symptoms will be asked to self isolate and will be tested for COVID-19.

 

COLES LIMITS TOILET PAPER TRANSACTIONS

 

Coles have now limited customers to one pack of toilet paper per transaction, just days after the supermarket giant limited purchases to four per customer.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the supermarket said: "To help improve access to toilet paper for our customers, we are now limiting purchases to one pack per transaction, both in-store and online.

Coles has limited toilet paper purchases amid chaotic scenes across the country.
Coles has limited toilet paper purchases amid chaotic scenes across the country.

"Our suppliers have increased production and we are making additional deliveries to stores, while our team members work hard to restock shelves in stores.

"This additional measure will allow us to maintain stock levels in stores so more customers will be able to purchase the products they need."

It comes in response to customers panic buying toilet paper across the country.

ITALY TO LOCK DOWN LOMBARDY REGION

 

Meanwhile, Italy is preparing to quarantine more than 10 million people around the financial capital Milan and the tourist mecca Venice for nearly a month to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

A draft government decree published by Italy's Corriere Della Sera newspaper and other media said movement into and out of the regions would be severely restricted until April 3.

It was not clear from either the decree or the reports as to when the measure would go into effect.

A woman wearing a sanitary mask walks past the Duomo gothic cathedral in Milan. Picture: AP
A woman wearing a sanitary mask walks past the Duomo gothic cathedral in Milan. Picture: AP

Corriere Della Sera said it was "imminent" and that those who violated the measures could be jailed.

The Italian government has found itself at the forefront of the global fight against an epidemic that has convulsed the markets and paralysed global supply chains since first emerging in China late last year.

Italy has recorded 233 deaths and 5,883 infections in the past two weeks.

St Mark's Square in Venice will soon be shut off. Picture: AP
St Mark's Square in Venice will soon be shut off. Picture: AP

The virus has now spread to all 22 Italian regions and the first deaths are being recorded in Italy's less well medically equipped south.

The entire Lombardy region is home to 10 million and is one of Italy's richest. The government decree also covers parts of the Veneto region around Venice as well as Emilia-Romagna's Parma and Rimini.

Those three cities have a combined population of around 540,000 people. The month-long ban on entry to places such as Venice could deliver a crippling blow to the city's already-struggling tourism industry.

There was no immediate word on whether the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan would remain open.

 

GOLD COAST WOMAN ON BOARD SHIP

One of four Australians trapped on a cruise liner in international waters off the US west coast where an outbreak of coronavirus has occurred is a crew member on the ship, the Grand Princess.

Gold Coast-born woman Kylie Chappell, who works as a cast manager and performer on the vessel, lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Her friend Brooklyn Pascoe told Seven News the news of her friend's predicament was "just a bit of shock".

 

Australian woman Kylie Chappell (right), a cast manager on the Grand Princess cruise ship that is stuck in the US off San Francisco after 21 cases of coronavirus on the ship were confirmed. Picture: Supplied/ 7 News
Australian woman Kylie Chappell (right), a cast manager on the Grand Princess cruise ship that is stuck in the US off San Francisco after 21 cases of coronavirus on the ship were confirmed. Picture: Supplied/ 7 News

 

Australian woman Kylie Chappell, a cast manager on the Grand Princess cruise ship that is stuck in the US off San Francisco. Picture: Supplied/ 7 News
Australian woman Kylie Chappell, a cast manager on the Grand Princess cruise ship that is stuck in the US off San Francisco. Picture: Supplied/ 7 News

 

"To not actually know someone ... well hopefully not affected by it, but on the ship it's really scary, it really brings it home," she said.

Her husband Johnathan Wagner is a drummer with Princess Cruises. It is not known if he is on the ship with her.

 

Australian woman Kylie Chappell with her husband Johnathan Wagner who is a drummer at Princess Cruises. Chappell is a cast manager on the Grand Princess cruise ship that is stuck in the US off San Francisco after 21 cases of coronavirus on the ship were confirmed. Picture: Supplied
Australian woman Kylie Chappell with her husband Johnathan Wagner who is a drummer at Princess Cruises. Chappell is a cast manager on the Grand Princess cruise ship that is stuck in the US off San Francisco after 21 cases of coronavirus on the ship were confirmed. Picture: Supplied

 

The Grand Princess, with 3500 people aboard, has been in international waters off San Francisco since late Friday. Twenty-one passengers have so far been confirmed to have the virus.

 

This photo provided by Michele Smith, shows a deserted lounge area on the Grand Princess cruise ship March 6, 2020, off the California coast. Picture: AP
This photo provided by Michele Smith, shows a deserted lounge area on the Grand Princess cruise ship March 6, 2020, off the California coast. Picture: AP

 

In this photo provided by Michele Smith, an empty hallway on the Grand Princess cruise ship March 6, 2020, off the California coast. Picture: AP
In this photo provided by Michele Smith, an empty hallway on the Grand Princess cruise ship March 6, 2020, off the California coast. Picture: AP

 

 

The ship belongs to Princess Cruises, the same company which operated the ship held off Japan last month on which more than 700 people tested positive for coronavirus.

Authorities want it to dock in a non-commercial port so everyone aboard can be tested, amid reports there were a cluster of coronavirus cases during an earlier voyage.

So far only 46 passengers have been tested.

A military helicopter crew lowered test kits on to the 290m ship by rope on Thursday and later retrieved them for analysis.

 

A group of medical personnel with the 129th Rescue Wing, working alongside individuals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, don protective equipment after delivering virus testing kits to the Grand Princess cruise ship. Picture: AP
A group of medical personnel with the 129th Rescue Wing, working alongside individuals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, don protective equipment after delivering virus testing kits to the Grand Princess cruise ship. Picture: AP

 

The ship is under orders to keep its distance from shore and US officials are still deciding where it should dock.

All passengers have been ordered to remain in their cabins.

"Those that will need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those who will require medical help will receive it," said US Vice-President Mike Pence.

 

 

 

US President Donald Trump, speaking at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said he would have preferred not to let the passengers disembark on American soil but would defer to the recommendations of medical experts.

 

 

 

 

 

CONFIRMED CASES IN FRANCE TRIPLE

The number of people in France diagnosed with the new coronavirus jumped by 336 to 949 on Saturday. That's the biggest daily increase France has recorded. French health authorities said another seven people have died, taking the total to 16. Most have been over 70 years of age.

The virus has reached every region of France and three overseas territories in the Caribbean and South America.

The head of the national health agency said that French hospitals are preparing emergency measures, including eventually bringing in retired doctors and students to help with growing demand if needed.

 

POPE TO LIVESTREAM SUNDAY SERVICE AS CORONAVIRUS HITS VATICAN

 

Pope Francis will not address the crowd for Sunday services from a window overlooking St Peter's Square because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, Vatican officials said.

Instead, Francis will livestream the traditional Angelus Prayer from a library inside the Vatican.

The pope won't hold his general audience from the window on Wednesday either, the church officials said Saturday.

Italy is the European country hardest hit by the virus, with at least 4,636 reported cases and 197 deaths, most in the last week.

 

The Vatican on Friday reported its first coronavirus case, saying it had suspended outpatient services at its health clinic after a patient tested positive for COVID-19.

The clinic inside the tiny city state - which has some 1000 residents - will be deep cleaned, while the emergency room will remain open, spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The patient tested positive on Thursday.

The clinic is used by priests, residents and employees - including those now retired - as well as their relatives.

Mr Bruni said the Vatican was getting in touch with all those who had passed through the clinic, as per protocol.

 

Pope Francis, who is active on social media, told his 18.1 million Twitter followers that he wished to "express again my closeness to those who are ill with the coronavirus and to healthcare workers who are caring for them".

The few tourists strolling around the normally crowded Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican on Friday sounded anxious about the rapid spread of the new illness.

 

 

"I am afraid because it is a new thing. There are many cases, many deaths," said Lucilia, a 41-year-old Brazilian nun who has spent nine years living in a small Italian village and was visiting the Vatican on her way back to Brazil. "Everything is happening very quickly and we are scared because we are sure of nothing."

Most of the Vatican's employees live in the Lazio region, where 44 people have tested positive for the virus.

Pope Francis has recently suffered from a bad cold but reportedly tested negative for COVID-19.

 

Pope Francis coughs during the Angelus noon prayer he recited from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican. Picture: AP
Pope Francis coughs during the Angelus noon prayer he recited from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican. Picture: AP

Mainland China accounted for more than 3000 deaths, while the toll in Italy stood at 148.

There are 85 countries outside China reporting infections, with South Africa, Palestine and Bosnia reporting initial cases in the past 24 hours (as at Friday).

More than half of those infected have reportedly recovered, including more than 53,000 in mainland China.

 

RELATIVES OF GRAND PRINCESS PASSENGERS SAY IT'S A 'DEATH TRAP'

There are 3500 passengers stranded on the Grand Princess, among them elderly people at risk of illness or worse. Lisa Egan, whose 90-year-old father is stuck on the boat, has warned authorities that he could die if the vessel is not allowed to dock in San Francisco soon.

'Keeping people on the ship is going to be a death sentence for many of the elderly passengers,' Egan told The Telegraph.

'He [her father] has to take several medications daily, and he's going to run out today [Saturday]. I'm sure that's true for many passengers'.

On Friday night, the captain of the Grand Princess announced that a passenger in need of "urgent medical assistance" would be airlifted to the mainland.

 

CNN reported that the passenger was collected by helicopter and taken to San Francisco for treatment.

It was unclear whether or not the person was one of the 21 people aboard the ship who tested positive for coronavirus.

19 of the 21 passengers with coronavirus are said to be crew members, sparking fears that proper cooking and cleaning services are now at risk.

Grand Princess passengers Neil and Victoria Hanlon appeared on ITV expressing their fears after sharing an elevator with ill passengers.

"They were going down to where the medical centre was, Mr Hanlon said.

"We asked them if they were okay - their breathing was horrendous."

 

Neil and Lisa Egan are stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship. Picture: ITV
Neil and Lisa Egan are stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship. Picture: ITV

Mr Hanlon said one man had told them he had bronchitis, but added "whether that was the truth, I don't know."

The British couple said they are "fed up just sitting and lying around and getting no exercise" and say they are "in the dark" in regards to coronavirus testing for other passengers and the ship's itinerary.

Passengers had been told to stay in their rooms until the latest round of test results for coronavirus came in. The tests were to take 4-6 hours and passengers were expected to get resutls the following morning.

 

PRINCE WILLIAM AND KATE MIDDLETON MAY CANCEL TRIP TO AUSTRALIA

Prince William and Kate Middleton could be forced to cancel their trip to Australia amid coronavirus fears.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had been expected to travel Down Under later this year to support communities devastated by bushfires.

But it has since been claimed the couple's plans could be affected by COVID-19 as the deadly bug continues to spread across the globe.

Two people have died in Australia, with 63 confirmed cases.

Meanwhile in the UK, two people have died after testing positive with coronavirus with 164 cases.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Australia in 2014. Picture: AAP
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Australia in 2014. Picture: AAP

No official dates had been announced for the Oz trip, however it was earlier reported officials had been in talks with Scott Morrison, Australia's Prime Minister, to fine-tune details.

Seven News reported there are concerns for the couple who travel on commercial flights and meet with people from all walks of life.

Kate and William had previously visited Australia in 2014, taking Prince George with them.

Kensington Palace has been contacted for comment.

It comes after Prince William joked with medics earlier this week about spreading the bug while visiting Ireland.

The dad-of-three asked Joe Mooney, an advance paramedic with the National Ambulance Service: "I bet everyone's like 'I've got coronavirus, I'm dying', and you're like 'no, you've just got a cough'.

 

Prince George, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at Taronga Zoo in 2014.
Prince George, Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at Taronga Zoo in 2014.

"Does it seem quite dramatic about coronavirus at the moment? Is it being a little bit hyped up do you think in the media?"

And he later grimaced with mock horror as he said: "By the way, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spreading coronavirus, Sorry.

"We're keeping an eye on that, so do tell us if we need to stop."

The couple shook hands with dozens of people while on their three-day whistle stop tour.

Meanwhile the Queen took precautions against coronavirus - wearing gloves for the investitures ceremony this week.

The 93-year-old donned the white gloves as she recognised worth Brits - the first time she has worn the accessory for the event at Buckingham Palace.

 

ELON MUSK CALLS CORONAVIRUS PANIC 'DUMB'

Billionaire Elon Musk, no stranger to controversy, caused a social media storm on Friday with a tweet about coronavirus.

The tweet has collected over a million likes and plenty of critical responses.

Musk made these comments on a day that five people in the US died from coronavirus, bringing the total of US fatalities to 17.

There have now been 334 total cases reported in the US.

On Friday President Trump signed an $8.3 billion measure to combat the crisis in the US. "Anyone who wants a test can get a test," Mr Trump said, despite there being mass shortages of tests available in the US.

 

 

Over 100,000 people have been infected with the disease worldwide, and more than 3400 have died.

Musk's comments have been interpreted by some as evidence of his cavalier attitude towards the wellbeing of his staff.

In 2015, an employee claimed that he was disciplined for choosing to attend his child's birth over a company event.

Musk denied those claims.

A Tesla "Anti-handbook handbook" was leaked last month, which says that people must use their "paid time off" for sick leave if they have accrued it, otherwise they will go unpaid.

 

Tesla stock has fallen more than 20% since news of the coronavirus outbreak triggered a broader sell-off in the stock market around mid February.

From late January to early February, the Tesla factory in Shanghai was forced to close as a result of the virus, which has had a knock-on effect on the company's supply chain.

 

MORE MASKS AS NEW STOCKPILING CONSIDERED

An extra 260,000 masks will be immediately released from the federal stockpile to primary health networks, but doctors and others can ask for them.

Australia now has 74 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with two deaths and 22 who have recovered, the nation's deputy chief medical officer confirmed.

"Most of the cases we have had so far, luckily at this point, have been quite mild, so the symptoms have recovered much quicker," Professor Paul Kelly said on Saturday.

The virus has spread to more than 90 countries.

Prof Kelly said the global supply of masks had been disrupted and they would look to step up local production of masks.

But he said there was no issue with "vital drugs" Australians need, even though many may find shortages at their local pharmacy.

 

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly. Picture: AAP
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly. Picture: AAP

Prof Kelly had a message for unwell people, especially workers: "Don't soldier on."

He also said the government is considering stockpiling some antibiotics and antivirals to a stockpile but none have been proved to be effective against coronavirus.

People are urged to go about their lives as normal - without hoarding food or toilet paper - as the health department can organise supplies for those caught short by self-isolation.

He added Australia is offering support to Indonesia for testing and other control measures for the coronavirus outbreak.

Health authorities in Victoria confirmed a new case of coronavirus - with a doctor now among the infected, who has been named as Missy Higgins' father Dr Chris Higgins.

The doctor, aged in his 70s, displayed mild symptoms on a flight from the US. He is now in isolation at home after last night being confirmed positive to the virus.

He had recently travelled to Denver and Vail in Colorado via Los Angeles, and was there for 12 days prior to becoming ill. It's believed he was infected in the US. This takes the state's total cases to 11.

Others new cases were also reported in Queensland and New South Wales.

The number affected in NSW increased from 34 to 36 people last night.

Victoria has 11 cases and there is one confirmed case in the Northern Territory and two in Tasmania.

South Australia has seven confirmed cases while Queensland now has a total of 14 confirmed cases. Western Australia has three cases.

LEBRON JAMES SAYS HE WON'T PLAY TO EMPTY STADIUMS

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has said he will not play games to arenas with no fans as coronavirus fears sweep the NBA.

"We play games without the fans? Nah, that's impossible," James told The Associated Press. "I ain't playing if I ain't got the fans in the crowd. That's who I play for. I play for my teammates, and I play for the fans. That's what it's all about. So if I show up to an arena and there ain't no fans in there, I ain't playing. They can do what they want to do."

 

 

An NBA memo was distributed that warned players about the possibility of playing games without fans or media as a preventative measure to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The move has already been taken by sports leagues in Europe.

Teams should be ready "for the possibility of implementing temperature checks on players, team staff, referees, and anyone else who is essential to conducting such a game in the team's arena," the memo reads.

US UNIVERSITIES CLOSE TO STEM THE OUTBREAK

Stanford University officials announced on Friday that on campus classes would be halted from Monday in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus. Scheduled exams would be changed to a take-home format, officials said.

In Seattle, The University of Washington will also cancel in-person classes from Monday until March 20 at the earliest, and Seattle University also said it would move to online classes for the rest of the winter quarter.

There are now 76 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state of New York, prompting Governor Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency as the number of cases is expected to increase.

About 4000 people are under a precautionary quarantine in New York, with 44 under mandatory quarantine, Mr Cuomo said on Friday.

 

 

MAJOR US FESTIVAL CANCELLED

South by Southwest, a major US festival staged in Texas, has been cancelled amid concerns about the deadly coronavirus, organisers confirmed today, with serious doubt now hanging over the future of Coachella.

"The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU," South by Southwest's organisers said in a statement.

"SXSW will faithfully follow the City's directions."

Austin mayor Steve Adler said he had declared the city a "local disaster" in response to the coronavirus, and had "issued an order that effectively cancels South by Southwest for this year".

The music, tech and film festival was slated to take place March 13-22. Even before it's official cancellation, major brands like Netflix, Apple and Amazon had already pulled out.

 

 

More than 400,000 people attended last year's SXSW, staged in the Texas capital's convention centre with events spread throughout the city.

Texas has so far recorded a handful of coronavirus cases, with more than 200 confirmed cases across the United States.

The SXSW announcement came on the heels of Miami authorities cancelling Ultra Music Festival, the annual electronic dance festival which was expected to draw more than 160,000 revellers.

The March 20 to 22 event was to feature Gesaffelstein and Sofi Tukker.

There have been more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus infections across 92 territories worldwide, according to AFP's latest toll, and almost 3,500 deaths.

Doubt is now hanging over Californian festival Coachella, which due to be held across two weekends in April, near Palm Springs.

The festival's organisers, Golden Voice, have not responded to requests for comment.

 

 

TRUMP'S $8.3B CORONAVIRUS PLEDGE

US President Donald Trump has signed a $US8.3 billion ($A12.51 billion) measure to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 12 people in the US and infected more than 200.

The legislation provides federal public health agencies with money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments and helps state and local governments prepare and respond to the threat. The rapid spread of the virus has rocked financial markets, interrupted travel and threatens to affect everyday life in the United States.

US President Donald Trump is maintaining a positive outlook for the US after swift response to the coronavirus and signing a bill worth $A12.51 billion AP Photo
US President Donald Trump is maintaining a positive outlook for the US after swift response to the coronavirus and signing a bill worth $A12.51 billion AP Photo

The Senate passed the measure to help tackle the outbreak in hopes of reassuring a fearful public and accelerating the government's response to the virus.

Its rapid spread is threatening to up-end everyday life in the US and across the globe.

The money would pay for a multifaceted attack on a virus that is spreading more widely every day, sending financial markets spiralling again on Thursday, disrupting travel and potentially threatening the US economy's decade-long expansion.

The plan would more than triple the $US2.5 billion ($A3.77bn) amount outlined by the White House 10 days ago.

The bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations committees negotiated the increased figure and other provisions of the legislation in a burst of bipartisan co-operation that's common on the panel but increasingly rare elsewhere in Washington.

The legislation would provide federal public health agencies money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments, including $US300 million ($A452 million) to deliver such drugs to those who need it.

More than $US2 billion ($A3 billion) would go to help federal, state and local governments prepare for and respond to the coronavirus threat. An additional $US1.3 billion ($A1.96 billion) would be used to help fight the virus overseas.

In a press conference Mr Trump described the virus as an "unforeseen problem" but said, "We're taking care of it."

Trump's comments came as two passengers and 19 crew members on a huge cruise ship being held off the California coast tested positive for the virus, Vice President Mike Pence announced.

Federal officials working with the state plan to bring the Grand Princess to a non-commercial port where the more than 3,500 people on board can be tested for COVID-19.

Pence said those needing to be quarantined will be and those needing medical attention will get it. Princess Cruises said 45 people were included in the first round of testing aboard the ship held off San Francisco.

BORIS JOHNSON'S PLAN TO COMBAT VIRUS

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held private talks in Downing Street to discuss measures that would include a monetary policy to address the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Johnson initially said on ITV's This Morning that the country was still at the stage where "the single best thing we can do . . . is just wash our hands".

But now it is possible that panic around the virus will disrupt Mr Johnson's Brexit timetable, as well as the British economy.

It comes as The Sun reports that British Airways has confirmed two of its baggage handlers have tested positive for coronavirus.

The staff members are understood to have been working at Heathrow Airport and have now been placed in self-isolation.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson washes his hands during a visit to the Mologic Laboratory in Bedford, England. Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson washes his hands during a visit to the Mologic Laboratory in Bedford, England. Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images

The news will spark fears over how many items of luggage the workers may have handled while carrying the virus.

A British Airways spokesman confirmed the positive tests, saying: "Public Health England has confirmed that two members of our staff, have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

"The colleagues have been isolated and are recovering at home."

Heathrow said in a statement: "The welfare of our passengers and colleagues is our top priority.

A firefighter disinfects a traditional shopping centre to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in northern Tehran, Iran. Picture: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
A firefighter disinfects a traditional shopping centre to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in northern Tehran, Iran. Picture: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

 

STARBUCKS BANS REUSABLE CUPS

Coffee giant Starbucks has banned reusable cups from stores across Europe as the war against coronavirus hits new heights.

Starbucks in the UK announced the change early Saturday, Australian time, in the bid to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The UK has more than 120 cases of coronavirus and one confirmed death.

"We are actively monitoring the situation and taking precautionary measures to ensure the ongoing wellbeing of our employees and customers," Starbucks said in a statement.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are pausing the use of personal cups or tumblers in our stores across the UK. However, we will continue to honour our 25 pence ($A0.50) discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup."

A sign posted at a Starbucks store in Tacoma, Washington. Reusable cups are also being banned across Europe. Picture: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
A sign posted at a Starbucks store in Tacoma, Washington. Reusable cups are also being banned across Europe. Picture: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Starbucks chains across Germany have also banned keep cups however the few stores across Australia are not adopting the same strategy.

The 10 cent paper cup surcharge has been stopped in both the UK and Germany until the virus is contained.

More than 100,000 people are now infected with coronavirus across the world, with the disease killing 3400 people since it spread from Wuhan, China in December.

Italy has been one of the worst hit outside of China with 148 people dying in the past two weeks.

Businesses are adopting increasingly drastic strategies to contain the virus with fears up to one in five workers could be home sick in the coming weeks.

 

 

VIRUS COULD PEAK IN MAY, EXPERTS WARN

Experts are predicting the current outbreak of COVID-19 spreading throughout Australia won't peak until May if it becomes uncontrolled and then it will take eight to 12 weeks to contain.

This means it will be a major burden on the health and hospital system at the same time as our annual flu season.

These predictions were relayed to medicos meeting with federal government officials on Friday.

The meeting was also told that if the virus was better controlled it would have a smaller peak, fewer people would be infected, but if would take longer to wash through the community.

Australian National University epidemiologist Professor Peter Collignon said at this stage the COVID-19 was not yet uncontrolled in Australia.

Clinical nurse Janice Geary demonstrating a patient check for Covid-19 at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. Picture: AAP
Clinical nurse Janice Geary demonstrating a patient check for Covid-19 at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. Picture: AAP

"You can still identify in most cases where the source of the infection came from," he said.

It would be classified as uncontrolled if suddenly there were 50 to 100 people with COVID-19 with no known contact with each other and spread across multiple areas, he said.

University of Queensland virologist Associate Professor Ian Mackay has predicted that over time, almost every Australian would contract the virus.

 

 

It was still too early to predict the course of the virus in Australia because we did not know enough about the number of mild cases that did not come to the attention of health authorities, Professor Collignon said.

It would only be when we had an antibody blood test that could tell whether a person had the coronavirus in the past that this would become possible.

"People are doing modelling all the time but the problem is we still don't have a lot of the basic data," he said.

South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus on a street in Seoul, South Korea. Picture: AP
South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus on a street in Seoul, South Korea. Picture: AP

"The Swine flu in Mexico was said to have a mortality rate of six per cent but that was because they didn't know about all the mild cases," he said.

"In Australia if you calculated Swine flu mortality on people hospitalised it was three per cent but a true population study found the mortality rate was 0.3 per cent," he said.

Professor Catherine Bennett from Deakin University said the irony was that the faster the virus spread the quicker it would be controlled.

"There are fewer people left to infect," she said.

If it was not possible to control the spread by quarantining those infected and promoting hand hygiene, health authorities must work to protect those most vulnerable to the disease - the elderly, she said.

 

EUROVISION REVIEWING OPTIONS AMID VIRUS

A co-organiser of this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam is reviewing its options in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

A spokesman for Dutch broadcaster NPO said that organisers would follow the advice of health authorities in deciding what form the event, due to be held on May 12-16, would take.

Eurovision usually attracts a live audience of tens of thousands and a TV one of close to 200 million.

Montaigne at the Australia Decides competition to pick who represents the country at Eurovision. Picture: Supplied
Montaigne at the Australia Decides competition to pick who represents the country at Eurovision. Picture: Supplied

Public gatherings have so far not been restricted in the Netherlands.

Vormer gave no details of what alternative plans might be.

Australia selected Montaigne to compete in this year's Eurovision Song Contest with the tune Don't Break Me.

AUSTRALIA'S BILLION DOLLAR PLAN TO TACKLE VIRUS

The coronavirus outbreak could cost Australian taxpayers about $1 billion in health spending as a school, nursing home, hospital and childcare centre in the same area of Sydney have created fears of a virus cluster.

Epping Boys High School was shut down on Friday and could be closed for a fortnight after a student tested positive while three staff and four residents of a nearby nursing home in the city's northwest have been infected.

The infected Year 11 student's mother works at Ryde Hospital with a doctor who has the virus. However, the student's mother isn't ill, but is awaiting test results, while more than 100 people from the hospital are in isolation.

Parents wearing masks arrive to pick their children up from Banksia Cottage Childcare within the Macquarie University Campus. Picture: John Appleyard
Parents wearing masks arrive to pick their children up from Banksia Cottage Childcare within the Macquarie University Campus. Picture: John Appleyard

And 17 children from a local childcare centre who visited the Dorothy Henderson Lodge nursing home in Macquarie Park last month have tested negative but told to stay home for the 14-day quarantine period.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a special shared funding deal to help states and territories shoulder hospital, health service and other response costs.

"This is demand driven. We are estimating … this could be as much as about $1 billion - $500 million each - that we would at least have to be allowing for," Mr Morrison told reporters.

"I hope it's not that much. It could be more."

Friday's deal is separate from other hospital funding agreements, with hospitals to account separately for costs associated with coronavirus cases.

Talks on epidemic planning were held on Friday for the aged care sector, and Queensland was pressing on with what it called "war gaming", where they look at a range of scenarios to decide the threshold for drastic measures like the closure of schools.

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Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly and Prime Minister Scott Morrison giving an update on the coronavirus. Picture: AAP
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly and Prime Minister Scott Morrison giving an update on the coronavirus. Picture: AAP

 

MATILDAS TO PLAY GAME BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Vietnam's women footballers will play the second leg of their Olympics playoff against Australia behind closed doors over concerns of COVID-19, football authorities said on Friday.

The March 11 game will be held in the Cam Pha stadium in northern Quang Ninh province.

The Matildas are on the verge of Tokyo Olympics after thrashing Vietnam 5-0 in the first leg of their playoff at home on Friday.

A statement released by Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) on Friday said the match organiser decided not to open ticket sales to the public "due to the complicated development of COVID-19 outbreak".

"Spectators should not come to the stadium area … avoid large public gatherings, to ensure effective prevention of the outbreak," according to the statement.

VFF General Secretary Le Hoai Anh told AFP that "only accredited people can attend the game".

 

Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy of Vietnam contests the ball with Emily Van Egmond of the Australian Matildas during the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off match. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images
Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy of Vietnam contests the ball with Emily Van Egmond of the Australian Matildas during the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off match. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images

Vietnam last month suspended all sporting competitions in the country in February in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

All games in the season-opening round of Vietnam's top football division V.League 1, which are held from March 6 to 8, will be played behind closed doors.

However, Vietnamese authorities said the country's inaugural Formula One race would go ahead as scheduled on April 5.

- with Reuters, AAP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers returning from the Epping Boys High camp receive a briefing. Picture: John Feder/The Australian
Teachers returning from the Epping Boys High camp receive a briefing. Picture: John Feder/The Australian

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