In Australia, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is addressing media in Sydney.
Australia is cutting in half its cap on daily returning Australians. It’s also moving to a user-pays mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals.
Berejiklian says that each adult will pay $3,000 for 14 days hotel quarantining.
“This we believe is fair. Aussies and residents overseas have had three or four months to decide what they want to do… WE’ve even heard anecdotal stories of people making repeat visits.”
Berejiklian said the government wants to put money into testing and tracing, not quarantining.
Hong Kong confirmed another 61 new cases on Saturday, amid a third resurgence for the city which held off a devastating outbreak in the early months.
Health authorities said the 61 included symptomatic people awaiting confirmation, and 28 confirmed cases. Of those, 16 were local infections, adding to concerns of the growing community transmission.
Despite sharing a border and high levels of travellers with mainland China, Hong Kong kept the virus largely at bay in the early months of the year. A second wave in March was mostly due to people flying in with the virus.
“I think the situation now is quite serious because we have many cases without a definite source of infection and they cannot be linked to any imported cases,” said Communicable Disease Branch Head Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan.
“There are outbreaks affecting restaurants, elderly homes, some students are affected and also certain areas and some housing estates – they have more than one case.
“So it affects the general public. I think it’s worse than the situation in March, when there were a lot of imported cases, and also some cases with definite sources, such as those linked to the bars and restaurants.”
On Friday Australia’s national cabinet decided to more than halve the number of overseas flights, cutting the number of Australians who can return home by at least 4,000 a week.
The decision followed days of senior politicians including Scott Morrison, New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian, and federal finance minister Mathias Cormann, arguing Australians who want to come home now should have come home in March, when the government issued an unprecedented alert to citizens overseas who wished to return to do so “as soon as possible” on 17 March.
The decision has concerned many Australian expats who contacted Guardian Australia explaining they had not returned in March because of their work, including foreign health services and the aid sector, or fear of contracting coronavirus in transit, flight cancellations, and complications ranging from pregnancy to pets.
A leading Australian business group says it’s naive to believe a few adjustments to the economy will help Australia recover from the coronavirus pandemic and get people back into jobs.
From AAP: Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott says the economy needs to be opened up, businesses need to invest and governments will need to stimulate through infrastructure spending, tax cuts and the extension of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker arrangements.
She also believes the extreme measures tackling the Covid-19 through border closures is sapping business confidence and costing jobs.
“We cannot eliminate this (virus) without a vaccine, we are a long way from that, we have to live with it therefore we have to get the systems right to manage these local outbreaks,” she told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
The Australian state of Victoria has been hit by a new outbreak, with more than 200 new daily cases reported in the past few days. Greater Melbourne has gone back into stage three lockdowns, and the interstate borders have been closed in an effort to prevent it spreading beyond Victoria.
Mexico reports 6,094 new cases
Reuters: Mexico’s Health Ministry on Saturday reported 6,094 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 539 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 295,268 cases and 34,730 deaths.
The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
The virus has so far infected more than 1.8 million people and killed at least 71,469 in Brazil, which is the world’s second worst outbreak behind the US. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has continually downplayed the virus and pushed back against calls to lock down.
Bolsonaro is currently being treated for Covid-19, and the Washington Post has analysed footage of his public appearances. It’s worth a look.
The visual evidence shows that Bolsonaro not only met with far more people than his official schedule suggests, but that he routinely flouted public health guidelines. He at times wore a mask and maintained a distance of six feet from others. But just as frequently, he met with people without a mask, shook hands and even hugged supporters.
Eight health workers test positive in Melbourne hospital
In Australia eight healthcare workers at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital have tested positive to Covid-19.
Alfred Health confirmed on Sunday five of the cases are not linked and are believed to have been acquired through the community.
Three colleagues deemed close contacts also tested positive.
Alfred Health chief executive Andrew Way says the hospital is taking “every measure” to keep staff members safe.
“We cannot afford to become complacent,” Professor Way said.
This week, hospital administrators began requiring all visitors and staff in clinical areas to wear surgical masks and increased the frequency of cleaning in its infectious diseases ward, where Covid-19 patients are treated.
They have also placed a concierge at the entrance to the ward to ensure the movements of all staff are logged. The general public and visitors do not have access to the high-risk ward.
It comes after three cancer patients died in March after contracting Covid-19 at the hospital.
Victoria recorded its sixth straight day of triple-digit increases on Saturday with 216 new cases, bringing the total number of active cases to 1249.
A man in his 90s died on Friday night while 49 people remain in hospital, including 15 in intensive care.
The state’s virus death toll is 23, bringing the national toll to 107.
In Australia a vaccine developed by the University of Queensland is ready to be tested on humans.
Human testing of the “molecular clamp” vaccine candidate, to start on Monday, follows encouraging results from animal testing conducted in the Netherlands, the Sunday Mail in Brisbane reports.
Professor Robert Booy, head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said the animal trials would have “ticked all the boxes”, allowing the human testing to go ahead.
“There is no way the research team would be able to progress from animals to humans without a complete guarantee of safety and they would likely have a confidence in its effectiveness.”
There are more than 130 vaccines in the works around the world but UQ’s work is believed to have shown great success in the pre-clinical stage of development.
“We invested millions into this research because we know a vaccine is crucial to defeating Covid-19,” the Queensland innovation minister, Kate Jones, told the Sunday Mail.
Good morning, good evening, hello, wherever you might be. This is Helen Davidson taking the reins of the blog for the next few hours. Thanks to my colleagues for their coverage.
Here the latest key developments at a glance:
- Infections in the US state of Texas rose by 10,351 on Saturday to 250,462 in total, the highest single-day increase in the state since the pandemic started.
- The US president, Donald Trump, has appeared in public wearing a mask for the first time during a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, after previously refusing to wear one and ridiculing some who did.
- Brazil, the world’s second-worst coronavirus hotspot after the United States, recorded 1,071 new deaths from the outbreak on Saturday, taking the total official death toll to 71,469.
- Michelle Bolsonaro, the wife of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is sick with coronavirus, said she and her two daughters had tested negative.
- Thousands of Israelis have protested in Tel Aviv against the government’s handling of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in violent clashes with police.
- The British government has drawn up a list of 20 councils in England facing the worst coronavirus outbreaks, with Bradford, Sheffield and Kirklees identified as areas in which localised lockdowns could be imposed.
- South Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases have doubled in just two weeks to more than 250,000.
- Lebanon’s number of new coronavirus infections increased for a third consecutive day to a record 86.
- Florida’s Walt Disney World opened to the public for the first time in four months, despite a surge of coronavirus cases in the state.