Australia is just one of dozens of countries to impose tight new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, as a sharply rising death toll in Italy and Spain serves as a warning to the world. In the space of 24 hours, the Spanish death toll doubled to 288 on Sunday, and Italian fatalities rose by 368 to a new total of 1809. Spain has followed Italy in imposing a near-total lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, with people only permitted to leave their homes for essential needs. India and South Africa are among the latest countries to impose strict border controls, as cases begin to rise in both countries. In Germany, where border restrictions have been imposed on European Union neighbours, local news outlets are reporting that the United States has attempted to buy the exclusive rights to a vaccine being developed by a German company.
COVID-19 in Australia: The Australian death toll has risen to five, after New South Wales authorities confirmed the deaths of two elderly women in NSW were linked to the virus. Meanwhile, the federal government did not commission a coronavirus awareness campaign until a month after the first case was recorded, reports Guardian Australia. In Victoria, elective surgeries are being fast-tracked to free up hospital beds in the coming months, while the State Library of Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria and Museums Victoria's sites will all be closed to the public from today, reports The Age. Schools in New South Wales and Tasmania ($) are among those to have imposed social distancing measures. South Australia has formally declared a public health emergency ($), unlocking additional powers to control the population. Meanwhile supermodel Miranda Kerr has been criticised for spreading the “dangerous’’ advice ($) of a controversial “medical medium’’ promoting an unproven cure for COVID-19.
Calls for wage freeze: The Australian reports that Master Grocers Australia has called for a one-year wage freeze in response to economic challenges posed by COVID-19. The body, which represents 4000 independent supermarkets, liquor, timber and hardware stores such as those that operate under IGA, FoodWorks and Mitre 10, made the submission to the Fair Work Commission’s annual minimum wage review.
SAS war crime allegations: A Four Corners investigation to air tonight details new allegations that unarmed civilians were killed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan in potential war crimes. A former SAS soldier told the ABC he witnessed three incidents involving what he described as the murder of Afghans. “If they go to a criminal trial, I do believe they'll be found guilty,” he said.