Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Boris Johnson in intensive care

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being treated in intensive care after his COVID-19 symptoms “worsened”, as another 439 British patients died from the virus in the space of 24 hours. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will deputise “where necessary” as the country faces a health crisis so severe charities say older people are being pressured into signing “Do not attempt CPR” forms. Meanwhile, France on Monday suffered its worst 24-hour period yet, with 833 deaths. In the United States, New York City officials are considering temporary burial of the dead in public parks as morgues reach capacity. Japan is to impose a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures today to slow a rise in cases, and will stimulate the economy with a 108 trillion yen (A$1.6 trillion) support package. The global number of infections has now passed 1.3 million, with the death toll exceeding 73,000. In signs that lockdowns are having an effect, two hard-hit countries Spain and Italy continue to see declines in the number of daily fatalities.

The Federal Government is expected to release the scientific projections of the spread of COVID-19 today, after Australia recorded its lowest daily increase for several weeks in cases of the deadly coronavirus on Monday, rising by 104 (1.7 per cent). Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said Australia appeared to have "successfully flattened the curve at the moment". Meanwhile, a sixth resident of a Sydney aged care facility has died of the virus, taking the national toll to 41. The national cabinet of federal, state and territory leaders will meet today to formalise a code of conduct for commercial tenants and landlords.

Aboriginal health groups in Victoria have stopped COVID-19 testing due to personal protective equipment shortages, with at least one temporarily shutting down due to the problem, reports Guardian Australia. The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc warns some organisations have resorted to making their own equipment. Aboriginal medical services in New South Wales are facing similar issues, with the NSW government writing to the commonwealth asking for the urgent release of supplies. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been identified as a high-risk group due to factors including higher rates of respiratory disease and overcrowded housing.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning of a spate of superannuation scams since the federal government’s move to allow partial access to superannuation from mid-April. The ACCC says it has received 87 reports of superannuation-specific scams since the government's announcement. “Scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from organisations that can help you get early access to your super,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said. More than 360,000 Australians have already applied to get an early release of their superannuation, with concerns that this will have a long-term impact on retirement plans.


“In this uncertain time, few are facing more uncertainty than the people stuck in Australia’s offshore processing system. Many of these refugees have endured years of torturous conditions and silence on their fates. Now they find themselves locked out of Australia, effectively stripped of the chance of resettlement in the United States and stranded in countries that do not want them and lack the resources to adequately care for them during a global pandemic.”


“Three months since my sister’s rainwater tanks ran dry from fighting those blazes, country roads were turned into moats by monsoonal downpours. Flash floods would have been inconvenient at the best of times. The times, however, were lending themselves to chaos. Coronavirus offered a short-term threat of mass extinction to accompany the more medium-term oblivion posed by climate change. DIY survivalists stockpiled toilet paper while recycling breathing masks from summer dust storms.”


“In one fell swoop the commitment to small government and privatisation, to the eradication of debt and deficit as the measure of fiscal rectitude and efficiency, tumbled into the abyss. A sombre Morrison, whose hair has gone from grey to white in a matter of weeks, said his government has made a decision ‘that no government has made before in Australia … and I hope and pray they never have to again’.”


“University of Melbourne criminal appeals and procedure academic, Professor Jeremy Gans, says as he watched proceedings on March 11 and 12, he counted three out of the seven judges who appeared sympathetic to Pell’s legal team. ‘Three were really leaning to acquittal,’ Gans told 7NEWS ‘It was the nature of their questions, what they thought mattered, their tone, the vibe in the courtroom. The question is, is there a fourth (judge)?’”


“A surge of civil cases – launched either by other people who claim he sexually abused them as children, or those who allege he did nothing to prevent the abuse by other paedophiles in the church – are expected to hit the courts.  One civil case already with the Supreme Court is that of a man who was sexually abused by Christian Brother Edward Dowlan in the 1980s, and who claims Pell knew of the crimes but did nothing to protect the child. Others considering suing Pell are waiting for the end of the criminal case.”


“Rotting desks, hordes of maggots, and a murderous Oprah — researchers are collecting and analyzing people’s coronavirus dreams.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.