My name is Calla Wahlquist, I’ll be your Amy Remeikis for the day.
National cabinet will meet today to consider a proposal from prime minister Scott Morrison to cap international arrivals to Australia to ease the pressure on the hotel quarantine system.
The meeting will also discuss the escalating coronavirus outbreak in Victoria caused by failures in hotel quarantine infection control protocols, which saw 165 new cases reported yesterday, most not yet linked to known outbreaks.
The hotel quarantine system has been in place since late March, and requires returning overseas travellers to remain in a hotel room for 14 days, at the state’s expense. NSW has flagged requiring returning travellers to foot the bill instead.
Last month, some 28,000 people arrived in Australia, with about half quarantining in Sydney and 5,000 each in Melbourne and Brisbane. Melbourne’s currently not taking international flights and Sydney refuses to take more, so the overflow’s in Perth and Adelaide.
And before we leave Melbourne, all but one of the nine public housing towers placed under hard lockdown conditions are now under the same stage three stay-at-home orders as the rest of the city.
The remaining tower block, at 33 Alfred Street in North Melbourne, will remain under hard lockdown for another nine days. About 480 people live in the building, and as of Thursday it had 53 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
But Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, warned that as many of a quarter of the residents could yet test positive.
For all of the other towers, and we will have new cases emerge over coming days, but the numbers are relatively less.
For some, just a few cases. For others, several. We really need to have an intensive monitoring program.
Obviously for all of those cases in those towers, they need to remain in isolation. For all of their close contacts, they need to remain quarantined.
After the national cabinet meeting, Tasmania will announce whether it has decided to lower its borders to the rest of Australia, excepting Victoria. Premier Peter Gutwein said yesterday that Victorians would not be able to travel to the island state and people from New South Wales would also probably not be allowed in, but states like South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland were considered safe. He’s given an indicative date of 24 July.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is escalating. Global cases have passed 12m, and the US broke the global daily case record by recording 60,000 new cases in 24 hours.
The WHO has appointed former New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark, and former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson to lead an evaluation of the WHO’s response to the pandemic and the response of individual countries.
Now, on with the show.