Another coronavirus death has been confirmed in New South Wales, Spain and the UK have recorded their highest daily tolls, and Vladimir Putin had contact with a doctor who has since been diagnosed with COVID-19.
This story is being updated regularly. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Wednesday’s top stories
Another death in NSW, pop-up testing clinic to open at Bondi Beach
A 95-year-old woman has died after contracting COVID-19 in New South Wales, raising the death toll in the state to nine and the toll nationally to 20.
The woman was a resident at the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged-care facility in Sydney, where there have been a number of other cases.
NSW health authorities said another 150 new coronavirus infections had been recorded in NSW, taking the state total to 2,182.
A pop-up coronavirus clinic is opening at Bondi Beach today to deal with a surge in cases in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
“They’ve relaxed the criteria for testing. They are saying anyone with symptoms in the area should come forward to be tested. No judgement, no cost,” ABC reporter Jesse Dorsett said.
NSW Health has ordered all doctors in the area to ramp up testing following an outbreak of the virus among backpackers.
New cases linked to Adelaide Airport baggage handlers
Several new cases of coronavirus linked to Qantas baggage handlers from Adelaide Airport have been confirmed in South Australia.
The state’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier told ABC radio the new cases were confirmed overnight, but she couldn’t say how many there had been.
They are linked to six baggage handlers from the airport who had previously tested positive to COVID-19.
Dr Spurrier said she was not aware of the virus having spread to other staff at the airport, but said a significant number of workers at the airport would be self-isolating.
Yesterday, Qantas cancelled seven Adelaide flights, including one that was turned back to Sydney mid-flight.
Passengers on that flight were put up in accommodation overnight, and will fly today.
Another 393 people dead in Britain, visas extended for foreign healthcare workers
Britain says it will automatically renew the visas of foreign healthcare workers without charge to ensure they can focus on fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
The extension will apply to about 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics working in the stretched National Health Service whose visas were due to expire before October 1, and the measure will also include their family members.
“We owe them a great deal of gratitude for all that they do. I don’t want them distracted by the visa process,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said.
The UK has experienced a sharp rise in the number of deaths from coronavirus, with a further 393 people dying, up from 180 the previous day.
The figures include a 19-year-old victim who had no underlying health conditions.
The total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the UK now stands at 1,789, while the total number of infections has increased to 25,150, with more than 140,000 people tested.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in self-isolation after testing positive to coronavirus last week, and conducted the UK’s first-ever digital Cabinet on Tuesday.
@BorisJohnson: This morning I chaired the first ever digital Cabinet. Our message to the public is: stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives. #StayHomeSaveLives
Spain records highest daily number of deaths
Spain continues to be hit hard by coronavirus, with the country recording a daily death toll of 849, its highest since the outbreak began.
With both new infections and deaths up around 11 per cent each, to a total of 94,417 confirmed cases and 8,189 fatalities, Spain is seeing a slight rebound in the outbreak.
Madrid was forced to open a second temporary morgue this week after an ice rink pressed into service last week became overwhelmed.
Spain and Italy are still struggling to avoid the collapse of their health systems, with Spain saying hospitals in at least half of its 17 regions are at or near their ICU bed limits, and more than 13,000 medical workers have been infected.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Cabinet is expected to add a new 700-million-euro ($1.19 billion) aid package, including zero interest loans, as well as suspend home evictions for families who can’t afford to pay their rent.
Putin had contact with doctor who now has coronavirus
A doctor who gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a tour of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital last week now says he has been diagnosed with the virus.
Mr Putin visited the Kommunarka hospital last Tuesday where he chatted to the doctor, Denis Protsenko, shook his hand, and rode with him in a lift.
Neither man was wearing protective equipment during the exchange.
@dimsmirnov175: “Like a hospital? “Space!”: Putin and the head doctor of the hospital in Kommunarka
“Yes, I have tested positive for coronavirus, but I feel pretty good. I’ve isolated myself in my office. I think the immunity I’ve developed this month is doing its job,” Dr Protsenko wrote yesterday on Facebook.
The Kremlin said Mr Putin was being regularly tested for coronavirus and that “everything is okay”, the RIA news agency reported.
It has previously said Mr Putin is being protected from viruses and other illnesses “around the clock”.
The Kremlin reported a coronavirus case in Mr Putin’s administration last week, but said the person in question had not come into contact with the President and that all measures were being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Russia now has 2,337 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
‘Almost zero chance of death’ for under 40s, says Brazil’s President
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says hunger is just as big a threat as COVID-19, again minimising the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr Bolsonaro has grown increasingly isolated over his belief that keeping the economy running is more important than strict quarantine measures advocated by state governors, public health ministers and even his health minister.
On Tuesday, he reiterated that view to journalists and supporters gathered outside his the presidential residence in Brasilia.
“Those who are under 40 years of age have almost zero chance of death. So there’s no reason not to let these people work. After all, if the virus kills in some cases, hunger also kills,” Mr Bolsonaro said.
US officials want to build hundreds of temporary hospitals across the country
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which converted a New York convention centre into a 1,000-bed hospital in the space of a week, is searching for hotels, dormitories, convention centres and large open spaces to build hospitals across the country.
Thousands of new coronavirus cases are being diagnosed in the country daily, with the United States enduring its deadliest day yet on Monday, with 575 fatalities.
“The scope is immense. We’re looking right now at around 341 different facilities across all of the United States,” Lieutenant General Todd Semonite told ABC America’s Good Morning America.
The US caseload rose by more than 20,000 confirmed cases on Monday, overwhelming hospitals that are running out of doctors, nurses, medical equipment and protective gear.
The number of US dead climbed past 3,000, more than the number who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001.
US officials estimate the death toll could reach 100,000 to 200,000.
12-year-old dies of COVID-19 in Belgium
Belgian authorities say a 12-year-old girl has died of coronavirus, by far the youngest person among the more than 700 victims in the country.
Announcing the news on Tuesday, national crisis-centre coronavirus spokesman Emmanuel Andre said it was “an emotionally difficult moment, because it involves a child, and it has also upset the medical and scientific community”.
“We are thinking of her family and friends. It is an event that is very rare, but one which upsets us greatly,” he said.
No details about the girl were provided.
Mr Andre said that 98 people had died from the disease over the past 24 hours, bringing the total toll to 705 in a country of around 11.5 million people. More than 12,705 cases have been confirmed in total so far.
South Korea postpones the return of school
South Korea is cancelling the re-opening of schools as clusters of coronavirus infections flare, announcing they will launch online classes while delaying the annual college entrance exams.
After an early surge in cases, South Korea has brought down its rate of new infections to about 100 or fewer a day, but groups of cases in churches, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as imported cases, are still emerging.
Authorities have postponed the beginning of the school semester three times from early March to April 6, and have decided to do so again, given the persistence of the outbreak.
“We regret that we have not reached levels where children can go to schools safely even though we mobilised all our capabilities to substantially decrease risks of infection,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said.
Australia has had 4,562 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (these numbers were last updated at 7:57pm AEDT on Tuesday, March 31).
- New South Wales: 2,032
- Victoria: 917
- Queensland: 743
- Western Australia: 364
- South Australia: 337
- ACT: 80
- Tasmania: 69
- Northern Territory: 20
Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak
Your questions on coronavirus answered: