NSW Deputy premier John Barilaro says the Berejiklian government’s regional sport and recreation centres could house Queensland and New Zealand NRL players as he continues his push for the season to resume.
Mr Barilaro, who has previously strongly urged anyone against visiting the bush amid the coronavirus crisis, said the state’s 11 sport and recreation centres could “absolutely” be used for the NRL.
The government has confirmed that it received a request from the NRL for the New Zealand Warriors to use its Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Centre at Lennox Head.
Mr Barilaro said the regional centre would enable the players to isolate before playing.
“It is a completely enclosed facility and there would not be public access,” Mr Barilaro said.
“But we can’t grant that request [at this stage] because it is still an issue for Border Force in terms of letting them [the Warriors] into Australia.”
Cricket Australia will look at slashing the number of support staff who travel with the national teams as former vice-captain Adam Gilchrist forecast a dramatic scaling back of player salaries and the overall cricket economy.
Conscious that a repeat of the 2017 pay war could be hugely damaging, cricket bosses are combing through all aspects of the sport’s operations, including domestic and pathway competitions and the trappings around the Australian teams, to find potential savings before going to the players.
Chief executive Kevin Roberts pulled the first of four levers to address the financial crisis caused by coronavirus on Friday when 80 per cent of full time staff were stood down.
National men’s and women’s coaches Justin Langer and Matthew Mott have already had their hours cut but there are expected to be more lasting changes as Australian cricket, including the national teams, adjust to a much leaner set-up, especially when it comes to travel.
Melbourne midwife Jacqueline Vella is devastated after losing thousands of dollars on a cancelled family holiday, but she and many other grounded travellers have nowhere to turn after the peak travel industry body last month suspended its complaints handling panel for months.
Ms Vella has been “crying for days” after losing about half the money she spent to book a dream $20,000 family holiday to Europe and Disneyland.
She said Flight Centre refunded her Emirates flights worth $10,705, minus $1500 in fees, but money spent on Disneyland tickets and accommodation in Paris and Rome put her losses at almost $10,000.
“That’s so unjust considering the cancellation is due to the current COVID-19 circumstance, which is beyond our control,” Ms Vella said.
As the industry grapples with international travel bans, customers are becoming increasingly concerned about cancellation fees, and fear some agencies will become insolvent and be unable to honour travel credits given in lieu of refunds.
Britain is not considering lifting the lockdown imposed almost four weeks ago to control the coronavirus outbreak given “deeply worrying” increases in the death toll, a senior minister said on Sunday.
Britain is at or near the peak of a health crisis in which more than 15,000 people have died – the fifth highest national death toll of a pandemic linked to at least 150,000 deaths worldwide.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said a Buzzfeed report that the government was considering lifting the lockdown in phases over the coming months was not correct.
“The facts and the advice are clear at the moment that we should not be thinking of lifting of these restrictions yet,” Gove told Sky News.
With hospitals under strain, health workers have criticised the government’s advice that personal protective equipment (PPE) worn while treating patients infected with coronavirus could be re-used, as supplies run low across the country.
An 87-tonne delivery of PPE from Turkey, which ministers had said would arrive on Sunday, has been delayed, Sky News reported.
The latest data show 15,464 people have died in British hospitals after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, a total that has increased by more than 800 for three days running.
A further 2,500 had died in care homes during the week to April 13, according to the National Care Forum, a representative body for the adult social care sector.
“One of the things that is deeply worrying and concerning is the high level of deaths,” Gove said.
“The evidence suggests that the rate of infection and the death rate is flattening, but we’re not absolutely certain that we are yet on a downward trajectory.”
Gove described as “grotesque” a Sunday Times story that said Prime Minister Boris Johnson had skipped five crisis meetings to address the coronavirus pandemic early in the outbreak.
“The prime minister took all the major decisions. Nobody can say that the prime minister wasn’t throwing heart and soul into fighting this virus,” he said, adding that the story overall was “slightly off-beam”.
Jonathan Ashworth, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, said this comment was “possibly the weakest rebuttal of a detailed expose in British political history”.
*I loved this Anna Patty story from earlier today on infectious diseases expert Sotiris Tsiodras. It’s worth a read if you missed it.
Sydney-born infectious diseases expert Sotiris Tsiodras has become a national hero in Greece for helping control the spread of COVID-19 and avoid the tragically high infection and death rates experienced in Spain and Italy.
While some Greeks admit they do not typically like to follow rules, Greek Australians living in the country’s capital cities and on islands have told The Age and The Sun-Herald they have embraced Dr Tsiodras’ advice on strict infection control measures.
A professor of medicine and infectious diseases at an Athens university, Dr Tsiodras, 54, has been widely credited for alerting the Greek government of the need to act quickly to COVID-19 to avoid the plight of countries such as France, Italy and Spain.
Each night at 6pm, the professor appears on television screens to update Greeks on the latest infection rates, fatalities and outbreaks. The French newspaper Le Figaro called him the “new darling of the Greeks”, while Melbourne’s Greek newspaper Neos Kosmos described him Greece’s “man of the moment”.
Greece’s Ekathimerini publication named the softly spoken professor as the most popular person in Greece according to a poll conducted for Alpha TV.
Kathy Lekkas – who grew up in the Blue Mountains and lives in Thessaloniki, Greece with her husband and their three sons – watches Dr Tsiodras’ nightly updates.
“People like him and respect him,” she said.
“They see Dr Tsiodras as a hero. He comes out and tells us the medical side of it. He is humble and speaks like an every day person. Everyone is very positive about the steps the government has taken.”
One positive test returned in Tasmania aged care tests
A resident at a Tasmanian aged care home has tested positive for coronavirus after an infected healthcare worker prompted hundreds of tests across three facilities.
The result comes as Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein urged people not to become complacent in following measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
About 500 people from East Devonport’s Melaleuca Nursing Home, Ulverstone’s Eliza Purton Home and Coroneagh Park in Penguin were tested on Friday after a healthcare worker who had done shifts at the facilities tested positive for the virus.
Mr Gutwein confirmed on Sunday a 79-year-old woman from the Melaleuca Nursing Home is the only person whose test has come back positive.
She has been transferred to Launceston Hospital for care.
The woman is one of seven new Tasmanian cases confirmed on Sunday, with the other six based in the North West.
The fresh cases have brought the state’s total to 191.
The premier says measures aimed at controlling the virus on the North West coast appear to be working, but stressed now isn’t the time for people to take their foot off the pedal.
“We all need to remain disciplined, we need to ensure that we follow the rules and that we do everything that we can,” he said.
“Now is not the time to relax or become complacent.”
About 40 defence and seven civilian medical professionals are set to help run the North West Regional Hospital after staff were sent home for two weeks to quarantine following the COVID-19 outbreak.
The defence deployment follows a request from the Tasmanian government, the federal government confirmed on Sunday.
A woman who has been in quarantine at the West Point Casino in Hobart was charged on Sunday with repeatedly breaching restrictions.
Police were called to the facility on Saturday morning after the woman had persistently left her room to smoke in contravention of safety requirements and was allegedly abusive to staff.
The 57-year-old was warned she would be arrested if there were other breaches, with police doing just that when they returned to the facility upon reports of her not following directions on Sunday.
She has been charged with two counts of failing to comply with the directions of the Director of Public Health and bailed to return to her room to continue her quarantine.
“This is unacceptable behaviour,” Inspector Rebecca Davis said in a statement.
As the AFL plans a long-term overhaul, The Age is asking footy’s key thinkers how the game should be played, coached, structured and funded in the post-coronavirus economy. In the first of our series, Australian football legend Leigh Matthews sets out his blueprint.
AFL clubs should only spend half as much on their football departments as they do on their players, and the league should seize the opportunity to reduce the number of players on the field to 16 a side, according to Australian football legend Leigh Matthews.
As the AFL asks its clubs to reimagine football beyond coronavirus by setting out their priorities for a long-term overhaul of the game, Matthews said it was “logical to me to have fewer players on the field” as part of the push to reduce list sizes.
The four-time premiership player and coach backed the league’s push to use the crisis to force through change.
“When you ask that question [about the number of players] the only answer seems to be ‘because we have always had 18 on the field’,” he said.
“The field is the same size as it was 100 years ago and players wore boots they nailed studs into. They are more athletic now, running around basically in spokes. They are faster and bigger.
“It’s only logical to me to reduce the number of players on the field, it opens the game up. You need two fewer players per game, so it’s an impact on list sizes.”
No, dolphins and swans didn’t return to the canals of Venice to swim in clear water as an unexpected side effect from the pandemic – these claims were shown to be fake.
But new research reveals it is true the grinding halt on global economic activity has had a remarkable effect on ground and atmospheric pollution.
Using satellite images and data from thousands of air quality stations, European researchers have found a 20 per cent decrease in air pollution – including ground-level nitrogen dioxide (usually caused by car pollution), ozone, and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – during the first two weeks of lockdown in 27 countries around the world.
Important story on not only the pain and loss felt by the Franzoni family after they lost Giuseppe Franzoni, 84, to COVID-19 but their disappointment at people having parties and playing sport in groups during this pandemic.
The story also includes police having to break up a party for an eight-year old child on Sunday.