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As it happened: Prime Minister urges states and territories to open borders in July, 7 new cases in Australia

That’s all the coronavirus-related news from us tonight, thanks for reading and for your comments.

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What made news today:

  • There were seven new cases reported in Australia: four locally acquired cases in Victoria and three cases found in returned travellers in hotel quarantine in NSW.
  • The Prime Minister will urge all states and territories to open their borders in July when the national cabinet meets on Friday.
  • Parliament returned with the future of JobKeeper the hot topic. Labor MPs who attended Black Lives Matter protests at the weekend stayed home to wait for the results of coronavirus testing.
  • New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters agitated for a quicker creation of a ‘trans-Tasman travel bubble’.
  • Globally, a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says the world economy will suffer the worst recession in nearly a century even with out a second wave of infections.
  • And in sport, NRL player Benji Marshall has breached biosecurity protocols after kissing a reporter at training.

    We’ll be back tomorrow morning to take you through another day of pandemic developments, but for now take care, stay safe and good night.

The virus crisis has triggered the worst global recession in nearly a century – and the pain is not over yet even if there is no second wave of infections, an international economic report warned Wednesday.

Hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs, and the crisis is hitting the poor and young people the hardest, worsening inequalities, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its latest analysis of global economic data.

“It is probably the most uncertain and dramatic outlook since the creation of the OECD,” Secretary General Angel Gurria said. “We cannot make projections as as we normally do.”

In the best-case scenario, if there is no second wave of infections, the agency forecast a global drop in economic output of 6% this year, and a rise of 2.8% next year.

If the coronavirus re-emerges later in the year, however, the global economy could shrink 7.6%, the OECD said.

“With or without a second outbreak, the consequences will be severe and long- lasting,” the report says.

Global stock markets dropped after the release of the report, which is more downbeat than other forecasts from the likes of the World Bank.

Gurria argued that “presenting the problem as the choice between lives and livelihoods, meaning a choice between health and the economy, is a false dilemma. If the pandemic is not brought under control, there will be no robust economic recovery.”

In case of a second wave of contagion, the OECD forecast that the average unemployment rate across the 37 developed countries that it represents would double this year to 10% and see “little recovery” in 2021. In the more optimistic scenario, the figure would be 9.2%. In poorer countries, the numbers are often higher, and informal workers are especially vulnerable.

The agency urged governments to tackle inequalities by investing in health care systems, global cooperation on medical supplies, vaccine and treatments and retraining people whose sectors are the hardest-hit.

The virus has infected 7.2 million people worldwide and killed at least 411,000, according to official figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University. The true toll is believed to be much higher.


Plastics firms are rushing to meet record demand for ‘sneeze guards’ to prevent the spread of coronavirus in stores, restaurants and workplaces. But there’s a global shortage of raw materials needed to make the plastic barriers.


The WA Labor government is being accused of “shocking double standards” after Health Minister Roger Cook said his wife Carly Lane was planning to represent him at an anti-racism rally on Saturday.

Opposition Leader Liza Harvey accused Mr Cook of hypocrisy and urged Premier Mark McGowan to “show some leadership” and have the Black Lives Matter rally planned for Saturday banned.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook says his wife will make her own choice about whether to attend the weekend's Black Lives Matter protest.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook says his wife will make her own choice about whether to attend the weekend’s Black Lives Matter protest.Credit:AAP

Mr Cook encouraged West Australians to “get out and make our voices heard” while observing social distancing rules in an interview with Seven West Media.

But outdoor gatherings of more than 300 people are not permitted in WA.

“We’ve discussed this with my family and Carly and I have decided that as the health minister it probably wouldn’t be the best message if I attended, notwithstanding the fact that I feel very strongly about the issues they’re protesting,” Mr Cook said.

Ms Harvey said it was embarrassing for the health minister who had overseen pandemic restrictions to encourage people to attend the rally.

“We’ve had funerals people have been attending by Zoom and on Anzac Day we had so many people in Australia attend a dawn vigil at the end of their driveway holding a candle citing the Ode of Remembrance,” she said.

“When you’ve still got in place restrictions for restaurants where they can get fined for having 28 people in that facility, yet there’s nothing being done to ban thousands of people gathering together when we know they won’t be able to socially distance, I just think that’s an appalling double standard. It’s un-Australian and unfair.”

[Read the full story here]

Rome: More than half of people in the epicentre of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak have been infected, and the region has the highest rate of antibodies yet discovered, a study has found.

The city of Bergamo and its surrounding province were hit hard after the virus was first detected in the country in late February, although the virus is believed to have been present in the region since at least January.

Local newspaper Eco di Bergamo ran pages and pages of obituaries as the crisis worsened in northern Italy.

Local newspaper Eco di Bergamo ran pages and pages of obituaries as the crisis worsened in northern Italy.Credit:AP

Blood tests carried out on more than 20,000 people in the area between April 23 and June 3 now reveal that 57 per cent had COVID-19 antibodies. Among medical staff, it is 30 per cent.

The study suggests that the area may be approaching coronavirus herd immunity levels – experts suggest that may be around 60-65 per cent. The theory is that if a certain percentage of the population is immune to an infectious disease, it will stop spreading.

Testing has shown that around 17 per cent of London’s population now has COVID-19 antibodies, while the figure for the rest of the Britain is 5 per cent.

Studies suggest that people who have been infected gain some degree of immunity, although it is not clear for how long.

[Read the full story here]


A second wave of coronavirus infections would wipe out four years of Australian economic growth and expose highly indebted mortgage holders to possible mass defaults, the OECD has warned in research that finds the pandemic will shape global policy for the rest of the decade.

In a report that highlights the successful efforts of Australian governments to control the virus and limit its financial impact, the organisation said policies such as JobKeeper, deep cuts in official interest rates and state initiatives were all supporting the economy.

The OECD has warned a second wave of the coronavirus would upend Australia's strong response to the pandemic. But it believes more infrastructure spending will be required to support the economy.

The OECD has warned a second wave of the coronavirus would upend Australia’s strong response to the pandemic. But it believes more infrastructure spending will be required to support the economy.

The OECD is expecting the Australian economy to contract by 5 per cent this year, the nation’s biggest single year hit since the Great Depression but one of the best performances by any rich nation during the virus pandemic.

Unemployment is forecast to average 7.4 per cent through the year while private spending is tipped to contract by 7.6 per cent. The budget deficit is predicted to reach about 9 per cent for 2020-21, or more than $170 billion.

The OECD then expects a rebound in 2021, with growth of 4.1 per cent, a 5.7 per cent jump in private spending and a 4.5 per cent increase in exports.

Despite this, unemployment is forecast to edge slightly higher to 7.6 per cent.

The organisation found that in this “single-hit scenario”, the Morrison government should continue to support the economy into 2021 with extra spending on infrastructure, loan guarantees for businesses and social housing.

[Read the full story here]

Britain is planning to reopen zoos, safari parks and drive-in theatres as part of the easing of lockdown measures from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the move by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing criticism amid the failure to reopen schools for all primary school students before summer, as had been planned.

An Asiatic lioness at the London Zoo.

An Asiatic lioness at the London Zoo.Credit:AP

Although many English primary schools have been open for children of key workers, the Conservative government had wanted to give all pupils the chance to return following months of home learning. But schools didn’t have enough space to address social distancing requirements.

Johnson is expected to make the announcement later Wednesday.

His Downing Street Office says it hopes that reopening of safari parks and zoos will help families spend time outdoors, where the chance of catching the virus is much lower.

London Zoo and other attractions across the country had warned they faced permanent closure if something weren’t done soon.


Indonesia has recorded more than a thousand new coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day, with confirmed infections rates rising as the country belatedly ramps up its testing regime.

Wednesday’s total of 1241 infections is the third time in five days the country has set a new high for cases and suggests the virus is spreading rapidly throughout the archipelago.

A member of Indonesia Red Cross sprays disinfectant in an attempt to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a school in Jakarta.

A member of Indonesia Red Cross sprays disinfectant in an attempt to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a school in Jakarta.Credit:AP

The results take the number of positive cases to 34,316 people while the total number of deaths rose by 36 people to 1,959.

A total of 17,757 specimens were reported on on Wednesday, which is also a new high for Indonesia, and the number of people tested was 5,826.

The slow roll out of widespread testing in Indonesia, a nation of nearly 270 million people, has likely masked how widely the virus has spread throughout the community until now.

Despite the country’s infection rates being on a clear and consistent upward trajectory, Indonesia has in recent days begun rolling back measures designed to stop the spread of the disease.

Mosques, churches and other houses of worship are beginning to re-open, shops and shopping centres are slated to re-open and public transport is re-starting too.

The rise in case numbers also comes a little over two weeks since the Idul Fitri national holiday, a time for families to gather and eat together.

Health Ministry spokesman Achmad Yurianto said the new figures showed case numbers were still on the rise but that a number of provinces were stable.

“The new positive cases are due to aggressive [contact] tracing,” he said.

“Let’s understand new cases keep coming because there are some people who are sick but who do not do self-isolation well. It also means some people are still prone to infection because they are not disciplined in implementing health protocols, namely keeping a safe distance, wearing a mask and washing hands.”

Sweden’s top health authority will stop holding daily briefings on the country’s COVID-19 infection rate and death toll.

The decision comes amid a furor over its strategy to fight the pandemic, after state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell acknowledged his approach – characterised by critics as ‘herd immunity’ – was flawed.

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden.Credit:AP

Instead of every day, updates for the press will now be provided only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sweden’s softer lockdown has resulted in one of the world’s highest death rates relative to its population.

But both Tegnell and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have insisted there’s no need to change strategy. The controversy had turned the briefings into public grillings during which Tegnell was increasingly pressed to explain himself.


Brazil on Tuesday restored detailed COVID-19 data to its official national website following controversy over the removal of cumulative totals and a ruling by a Supreme Court justice that the full set of information be reinstated.

The move came after days of mounting pressure from across the political spectrum and allegations the government was trying to mask the severity of the outbreak, now the world’s second-largest.

The official website reverted to showing cumulative totals of deaths and infections – as well as breakdowns by state – as it had done until last week.

On Tuesday evening the latest daily numbers were uploaded to the site. They showed 32,091 new infections of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours for a cumulative total of 739,503 cases, and 1,272 new deaths, bringing the toll to 38,406 dead, the third highest after the United States and Britain.

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently sought to play down the severity of the coronavirus, dismissing it as a “little flu” and urging governors to reverse lockdown measures battering the country’s economy.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro said the World Health Organisation had lost credibility in its handling of the pandemic and that Brazil could pull out of the international body.


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