15/04/2020 - 15:30

COVID-19 daily wrap: 5 new cases in WA

15/04/2020 - 15:30

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Western Australia records just five new cases of COVID-19 while the federal government announces relief for the country's exporters and media outlets.

Nick Coatsworth has warned Australia must continue to build hospital capacity and case detection in lieu of a vaccine
  • The Department of Health has recorded just five new cases of COVID-19 overnight, bringing Western Australia’s total to 532. While the rate of new cases across Australia is continuing to slow, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told reporters today in an update on the coronavirus that, in the absence of a vaccine, the country must continue to build capacity in the hospital system and the capability to detect new cases.
  • The federal government has announced that exporters impacted by COVID-19 will have access to loans of between $250,000 and $50 million, under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia. Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said the funds, alongside the SME Guarantee Scheme of up to $40 billion, would help further sustain the industry in the coming months.
  • Australia’s media landscape will receive a reprieve in the coming months, with the federal government pledging tax relief, $50 million of investment in regional journalism and a suspension of content quotas until the end of the year. Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the support was short-term but flagged the possibility of some regulations being altered permanently after the pandemic has lapsed.
  • The state government will introduce new laws to support Lotterywest retailers in the coming months, allowing it to make additional grants as well as circumvent requirements around payout periods and in-person claims for prizes. Premier Mark McGowan said the Bill would provide relief to the community and allow the state’s lottery system to function unabated in the coming months.
  • Local Government Minister David Templeman has announced changes to the local government act to allow councils to modify or suspend legislative provisions or local laws. Mr Templeman framed the new laws as allowing local governments to circumvent red tape to support businesses and households, saying it would remove barriers and encourage agile responses.
  • Vince Catania has written to Premier Mark McGowan requesting the state government waive fees for regional businesses, including its tourism operators, who he has said will face at least 12-18 months of economic hardship. Mr Catania’s comments came after Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall criticised the federal government’s wage subsidy plans for not covering the state’s regional tourism operators.
  • Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnson has welcomed a general order from the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission granting state system private sector employees unpaid pandemic leave to cover periods they are required to self-isolate by the government. Those laws will come into effect from July 31.
  • State School Teachers Union of WA president Pat Byrne has said members are concerned about a lack of PPE for teachers ahead of Term 2. That comes as Health Minister Roger Cook and Premier Mark McGowan both said today they were comfortable with face-to-face school resuming in the coming months.
  • West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson has argued clubs should not rush to cut assistant coaches, as the AFL faces financial difficulties and a further reduction of staff in the months ahead. Mr Simpson argued that a reduction in key staff means clubs may not be able to support up-and-coming players who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Kimberley-based MLA Josie Farrer will not sit in the parliament again until June 16, citing tougher travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic. There are currently 17 people in the region infected with COVID-19.
  • South Australia has reported no new cases of COVID-19 overnight. The state government will now test anyone for the virus, regardless of whether they present with symptoms or not.
  • US President Donald Trump has said he will halt funding for the World Health Organisation, accusing the UN body of spreading lies on behalf of the Chinese government. Mr Trump has however in the past praised China’s response to COVID-19, saying in January he greatly appreciated the country’s transparency and efforts in fighting the disease. The US has now recorded more than 600,000 cases and more than 26,000 deaths as a result of the virus.

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