With a constant stream of information and misinformation about COVID-19 (coronavirus) circulating, Echonetdaily will endeavour to update this page as news come to hand.
Updated March 20
The Australian Academy of Science has just published a new fact-checked video explainer on ‘flattening the curve’, answering the following questions:
- What does flattening the curve actually mean?
- How do we flatten it?
- Why hasn’t Italy been able to flatten its curve?
- How did South Korea manage to flatten the curve?
- Do you think Australia will flatten the curve?
New social distancing requiring a four square metres per person rule for gatherings of less than 100 it is recommended that there is four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space, in a room. That is that’s 2m by 2m.
For the first time in 25 years the government will increase Newstart as part of the new stimulus package.
Yesterday, the Morrison government announced it was closing Australia’s borders to foreign visitors with only citizens, permanent residents and close family allowed to enter.
Updated March 19
For eligible or at-risk patients the government has introduced multiple changes to the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) including access to healthcare in general practice through Telehealth. That is your doctor can give you a consultation over the phone to help those vulnerable to COVID-19 or under legislated isolation.
For more information see: Telehealth consultations available for vulnerable patients on Echonetdaily.
Support is available for isolated cancer patients
Cancer Council NSW wants to remind people affected by cancer that there are support services available for those who are needing to stay home due to coronavirus risk.
Cancer brings with it a huge emotional and mental burden for both patients and their loved ones. Being isolated from friends and family can make these feelings worse, but there is still remote support available for those in need.
Anyone affected by cancer and in need of support should reach out to our 13 11 20 Information and Support line (available 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri) and speak with one of our trained health professionals. Patients and carers can also remotely access our cancer information webinars and podcasts at https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-information/, or discuss their cancer issues on our Cancer Council Online Community at https://onlinecommunity.cancercouncil.com.au/.
Delivery curfews removed
Lismore City Council has removed all restrictions, delivery curfews and planning constraints on supermarket loading bays to help them meet current demand in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID–19) outbreak.
The move is consistent with current government advice.
‘We are trying to proactively respond to the current surge in demand, which is expected to last at least several weeks,’ Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith said.
‘This will assist with restocking shelves more quickly and increase the public’s confidence. This is an unprecedented health event and we need to work together as a community during these challenging times.’
A potential COVID-19 vaccine has had its first human trial in the US city of Seattle this week according to a report on the ABC.
Jennifer Haller, who doesn’t have the virus, became the first human to be given a potential vaccine. Ms Haller is one of 45 volunteers being given two injections 28 days apart to test the vaccine’s safety. It is one of the large number of processes necessary before any vaccine can be given the green light for mass production and distribution.
Cases of COVID-19 in Australia
As at 3pm on 18 March, 2020, there have been 494 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
As at 6.30am on 18 March, 2020, there have been 454 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
Of the 454 confirmed cases in Australia, 43 have recovered and 5 have died from COVID-19.
228 cases were considered to be overseas acquired. Most of the overseas cases were acquired in the USA, Iran, Italy and the UK.
62 cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
The likely place of exposure for 138 reported cases is under investigation.
The source of infection for 26 cases is currently unknown.
Further information regarding the epidemiology of cases in Australia is provided in the weekly epidemiology reports.
For international figures on COVID-19 go to WHO daily situation reports.
Updated March 18, 3.30pm
Latest from Byron Council
Crisis Management Team is meeting regularly to prepare for a wide range of scenarios.
The Council website will be kept up to date with Council facility and service disruptions and closures
Many of Council’s public consultation activities such as workshops have been cancelled.
Property owners having difficulty paying their rates or water/sewerage notices can contact Council to arrange a payment plan.
Council has a financial hardship assistance policy concerning outstanding rates and charges and this may be of help to some people as it provides concessions in certain circumstances. Here is Council’s financial hardship assistance policy
Byron Council facilities and operations:
Council Meeting – Thursday 19 March – going ahead; public access available. Hygiene protocols will be in place.
Libraries – closed (for two weeks and then will be reassessed)
Pools – open and operating as normal
Cavanbah Centre – open and operating as normal. Some activities have been cancelled and postponed by organisers. Please contact the Cavanbah Centre with any questions.
Hygiene protocols and extra cleaning are in place.
Markets – please view specific market websites or contact the organisers directly as advice may change.
Lone Goat Gallery, Byron Bay – closed for two weeks and then will be reassessed
Sandhills Childcare Centre, Byron Bay – open and operating as normal.
Out of School Hours Services – running as normal.
For more information go to Council’s COVID-19 update on our website.
Latest update from the NSW Department of Health
‘As at 11am today, an additional 57 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed and an
additional death, since our last update at 11am, March 17, bringing the total number
of confirmed cases in NSW to 267.’
A third confirmed case of COVID-19 has been recorded in the Northern NSW Local Health District
A LHD spokesperson said:
‘This case is among the 267 total cases recorded for NSW as at 11am 18 March.
As with the other two cases recorded within the LHD, this case was acquired
overseas, and is not the result of local community transmission.
The individual is self-isolating, and the North Coast Public Health Unit has already
followed up close contacts of the case.
No further details relating to the individual’s location will be made public at this time.
There are no locations that pose an ongoing risk to members of the public.
We can also confirm that all close contacts of the previous two recorded cases in
NNSWLHD have been identified, contacted and followed up by Public Health officers.
NSW Health COVID-19 / Flu assessment clinics are up and running across the state
however, we stress these clinics are for those most at risk with respiratory symptoms
or fever, those returning from overseas or in contact with a COVID-19 case, or people
like our health workers. People without symptoms do not need to be tested.’
Southern Cross University will deliver all its study programs online as of Monday
‘We have made this move in the best interests of our students and our teaching staff,’ Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said.
‘While every degree that we offer will now be available online, all of our campuses remain open.’
Tweed Mayor calls for a ‘proactive and precautionary approach’
Mayor of Tweed Katie Milne has called for residents to practice social distancing, wash hands thoroughly, cover coughs and sneezes and stay at home if sick.
‘Council is treating this situation very seriously and implementing a range of proactive measures to help keep the community and staff as safe as possible,’ Cr Milne said.
‘While the offices will not close and our staff are still working, we are asking people to consider alternative methods of contacting us and in particular, request that anyone who has signs of illness not to enter our offices.
‘This is in addition to the decision we made earlier this week to close Council’s cultural facilities including the art gallery, libraries and museum for a period of two weeks, which may be extended as this unprecedented situation plays out.
Some of the other ways Council is providing safer physical spaces for customers include:
- additional cleaning of surfaces in our customer service areas
- take-home / single use pens
- providing hand sanitiser and cleaning instructions for use in Council offices
- cleaning of all EFTPOS machines after each transaction.
PM warns against travel
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told all Australians “do not travel abroad” as the Federal Government updates the travel advisory for the entire world.
Ban on indoor gatherings of 100
The PM has also announced that non-essential indoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people. However, schools are to remain open.
Woolworths Mullumbimby is rationing tinned food to ensure every one can get some. Each person is allowed to have two tins each of vegetables, beans or tomatoes.
Updated March 17, 2pm
Australian Government Department of Health
Coronavirus (COVID-19) current situation and case numbers
We are managing the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia as a health emergency.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic.
Currently, Australia does not have widespread community transmission of COVID-19. Find out how we are managing the outbreak to slow the spread.
As at 6am on 17 March 2020, there have been 375 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Of the 375 confirmed cases in Australia, 27 have recovered and 5 have died from COVID-19.
189 cases were considered to be overseas acquired. Most of the overseas cases were acquired in the USA, Iran, Italy and the UK.
52 cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.
The likely place of exposure for 115 reported cases is under investigation.
The source of infection for 19 cases is currently unknown.
Further information regarding the epidemiology of cases in Australia is provided in the weekly epidemiology reports.
Across the world
Across the world there have been more than 174,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 6,800 deaths.
Find out how COVID-19 is affecting other countries on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website. View the:
NSW Local Health’s response to COVID-19
Government departments across the nation are battening down the hatches in preparation for large numbers of COVID-19 (coronavirus) patients to present themselves at health facilities.
Chief Executive, Northern NSW Local Health Wayne Jones says the Northern NSW Local Health District and North Coast Primary Health Network are working in partnership to ensure they have an appropriate and effective health response to the impacts of COVID-19.
This includes regular daily briefings at the state and local level; sharing information with primary health providers and providing advice and support around testing and ongoing monitoring; the Public Health Unit monitoring and following up suspected cases, contacting close contacts if required, and; cross-border collaboration with our Queensland Health counterparts.
Mr Jones says that COVID-19/flu clinics are established at Lismore Base Hospital and The Tweed Hospital. ‘The purpose of these clinics is for people who have respiratory symptoms or fever and who are at risk of COVID-19, for example, because they were in contact with a COVID-19 case, or have returned from overseas in the 14 days before the onset of symptoms.’
The clinics are open from 10am to 6pm seven days a week at this stage. ‘People do not need to call ahead to attend these clinics, but if attending an Emergency Department outside these hours, or attending your GP, please phone ahead,’ said Mr Jones.
‘As with other public hospitals in NSW, we are arranging to double the ICU capacity in hospitals in Northern NSW and to prepare for a significant increase in respiratory presentations to the Emergency Department.
‘All our facilities are planning for a potential increase in presentations of people with respiratory illness over the coming weeks and months, and we’re working with NSW Health to maximise available critical care resources.
Elective surgery not cancelled
Mr Jones says that elective surgery has not been cancelled, but hospitals are reviewing the need to bring some cases forward, particularly those which may require Intensive Care support, in light of the expected increase in demand for ICU services in the coming weeks.
‘We’ll continue to monitor our elective surgery lists and make decisions based on the best advice and forward planning scenarios,’ he said.
Mr Jones says departments are holding regular weekly forums to update staff and clinicians on the latest information and health precautions, and providing additional updates as the situation unfolds.
‘We are providing support to staff in our health facilities, ensuring they follow appropriate infection control measures, hand hygiene and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (including masks) in addition to standard precautions.
‘We are providing information and support to staff in forward planning and managing any leave issues that may arise.
Additional and back up staff
‘We are exploring opportunities to source additional and back up staff, in the event that more health workers are required to assist with medical and nursing care.
Mr Jones says public health measures, such as early case identification and contact tracing, are designed to limit the impact of epidemics and pandemics, by flattening the curve of peak case numbers and lessen the number of people requiring health care during periods of highest demand.
‘We encourage members of the public to continue with hand-washing and social distancing, and to remain alert to any changing advice from health authorities.
‘The health response is evolving as the situation unfolds, and as more is learnt about COVID-19. The NSW Health website contains the most up to date information for the public and health professionals’.
For more information, visit: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx.
You can also call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.