We’re going to wind things up for the evening on what’s been a quieter day overall. Here are the main events:

  • Two more people have died of Covid-19 in NSW, with both cases linked to the Ruby Princess. A 74-year-old woman died in John Hunter hospital and a 79-year-old man died while being treated in Northern Beaches hospital.
  • Tasmania has placed most of the north-west of the state on lockdown. 1,200 hospital staff and their families, meaning about 5,000 members of the north-west community, have been placed on a strict quarantine lockdown.
  • The health minister, Greg Hunt, said Australia now has 6,335 people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Of those 61 people have died, 238 people are in hospital, 81 are in intensive care, 35 are on ventilators. More than half have recovered
  • The Apprise Centre of Research Excellence, which leads Australia’s research into infectious diseases, will lead a national study that will analyse thousands of Australians from different risk groups to try to understand how many people are immune to Covid-19.
  • Queensland students are being asked to continue to learn from home until 22 May. Schools in the state will be open to children of essential workers and vulnerable students only.
  • The ACT’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, has said the ACT could take part in trials of easing restrictions in conjunction with neighbouring regions in NSW. He stressed this was unlikely to happen this month.

Thanks again for following along. We’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Interrupting Covid-19 coverage with this cheerier piece of non-coronavirus news. My environment colleague, Graham Readfearn, has written about the Murray and Darling rivers reconnecting for the first time in two years.

This does not signal the end of the drought, but you can read about what it means for communities on the river system here.


Coronavirus Australia update: Victorian couple fined $3,300 over year-old holiday snaps https://t.co/7t4iiTZQuk

— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) April 13, 2020

Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has made a few more comments about those interim school arrangements announced earlier today. From next Monday, most students will continue to learn from home, with schools open only to children of essential workers and children from vulnerable families.

“We are in extraordinary times and this will take place until Friday 22 May, and then we will review it again,” Palaszczuk said in a statement this evening.

She said the diagnosis of 35 new Covid-19 cases in the state over the course of the long weekend was “an extraordinary effort” but “this is just the start, there’s a huge road to go, a long way to go and we need to keep this up”.

In relation to professional sport, Palaszczuk said there is no health advice suggesting any sporting code could resume.


Good evening.

Australian researchers say they are “a few weeks” away from concluding clinical trials of drugs that could be used in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

You can read more in this piece by Malcolm Farr.


I’m handing over to my colleague Lisa Cox to take you through the evening and into Q+A.

SA premier Steven Marshall points to the number of cases in the US and the UK when pushing back against talk about easing restrictions.

It’s too premature, he says. Australia is doing really well at flattening the curve. The national cabinet will meet this week, and then the following week there will be data that will show where Australia is likely to go, and what the response needs to be.

On the Qantas cluster in SA, the state authorities say Qantas has been very helpful in the investigation, and thorough cleaning has been undertaken, so when staff return, or new staff go to the affected area, they can be sure they won’t be infected.

No one who was in any of the public areas around the location has tested positive for coronavirus.

One woman refused to stop when she crossed the border into South Australia and when pulled up by police, coughed on them, the SA police commissioner Grant Stevens alleges.

The woman was arrested and fined.

Just catching up on the South Australian press conference – Sky News is now playing the presser in full, so I can summarise it a bit better.

Over the long weekend, police monitored popular areas, holiday areas, beach fronts, etc.

There were 640 people checked in relation to quarantine obligations and almost all were complying.

About 620 businesses were checked and only two were not compliant.

There were 630 people were crossing the border over the long weekend. Around half were essential travellers, and the other half were required to go into isolation for two weeks.


Facebook pursues anti-5G groups

Our colleagues in the UK reported overnight that Facebook removed an anti-5G group, which had been spreading misinformation linking the roll-out of 5G telecommunications services to the spread of coronavirus.

It was so bad in the UK, people had begun attacking phone poles.

I went to check if one of the most prominent ones in Australia was still up and couldn’t find it. Most of the anti-5G groups were no longer coming up in search results.

Shortly after I’d discovered they’d renamed themselves to “Australians for safe technology” in the hope it would stop them being banned.

Facebook in Australia has already agreed to remove content linking coronavirus to 5G, and communications minister Paul Fletcher has asked YouTube to look at removing similar content from its platform.


Two more cases in South Australia

While Cook has been talking, South Australia’s health minister, Stephen Wade, is providing an update. Because the states, for some reason, like having press conferences at the same time.

Wade confirms two new cases in South Australia overnight – none from the Qantas cluster, which stands at 34 cases.

Seven hundred and fifty Qantas staff are isolating right now, he says.

There are 13 people in hospital for treatment, and six in the ICU. One person is in a critical condition.


On the cruise ship Artania, the crew members are isolated from others on board, Cook says. Once the 14 days isolation are over, those who haven’t been exposed to the virus won’t get it, he says, so they can then sail away from WA.

Those who have been confirmed to have coronavirus have been removed from the ship for treatment.

The ship is due to depart WA on Saturday.

Six new cases in Western Australia

WA is reporting six new cases overnight, four of which are from a cruise ship.

There will also be eight collection centres where people can go get tested for coronavirus with a referral from a GP.

Just 6 new WA cases COVID overnight.

4 are from Artania.

266 are active.

28 in hospital.

14 in ICU.

PCR testing will be expanded to “no less than 8 locations” around Perth in the coming days for anyone with a referral from a GP. #wapol

— Jenna Clarke (@jennamclarke) April 13, 2020


Good afternoon.

WA’s health minister, Roger Cook, is holding a press conference.

He’s asked about what will lead to easing of restrictions.

It’s about the health advice, and it’s being reviewed monthly. The low numbers are just for the past week and a half, so they’d like to see it be like that for a bit longer before a review of any restrictions (worth noting, aside from the no movement between regions and hard closed borders, WA is much less restrictive than the eastern states).


National cabinet will meet again tomorrow, as scheduled.

In the meantime, I will hand you over to Josh Taylor for a few hours on what is left on this Easter Monday.

I’ll be back tomorrow morning. Please – take care of you


Those repatriation flights are starting to fill:

Skippy the @Qantas 787 has landed in London! This Wednesday, he’ll turn around and bring Australians home as QF 10 on Wednesday 15 April 2020. Seats are still on sale at https://t.co/gvo7P9XawU. If you wish to return home, you’ll need to act now. 🏃‍♂️ https://t.co/CXbY6VngeG pic.twitter.com/v90Noz0fhL

— George Brandis (@AusHCUK) April 13, 2020

That continues:

The most immediate priority is the more than 1,000 crew members on board the Ruby Princess currently alongside Port Kembla. These people are confined to their cabins, with no idea on when they will be able to return home.

Twelve crew members from this vessel have already had to be airlifted to Sydney hospitals and at least another 44 crew are confirmed to have contracted the virus.

The Morrison government must immediately test all remaining crew members and ensure that appropriate medical care is available to any people who return a positive result.

Once the scale of the infection on board these vessels in Australian waters is known, arrangements need to be put in place, at the expense of the cruise liner companies, for crew members to return home as quickly and safely as possible.

Only the federal government has the capacity to deliver the required national response as it controls our borders, our biosecurity responsibilities, and our management of diplomatic relationships.

As a signatory to international maritime conventions, Australia has international obligations to assist people who need our help and the basic human rights of individual crew members must be respected.

Labor will be constructive and supportive, but we will speak up if things look like they are going off track. This is a national crisis and, above all, we want the government to get the policy right.


And while we are still on cruise ships, Labor has just released this missive to the government (via press release)

The Morrison government must urgently take action to assist the crews on board the last remaining cruise ships in Australian waters. If the government fails to act now, it risks creating another Ruby Princess-style disaster.

Three foreign flagged vessels remain in Fremantle, Darwin and Port Kembla with dozens of crew infected with Covid-19 needing urgent help, whilst the scale of infection on board is unknown.

Every day the Morrison government waits to assist in repatriating these crews, it risks more crew members becoming critically ill, requiring transport to Australian hospitals and placing unnecessary additional stress on state health systems.

The government must urgently put in place a plan to support these workers now. This plan must include testing of all remaining cruise ship crew members, providing medical assistance or quarantine to any unwell crew members, and repatriating all crew members who are not required for the return of the ships to their home ports.

Failure by the federal government to enact such a plan risk the crews on these vessels overwhelming our state health systems and potentially spreading coronavirus in Australia.

Under the conventions of maritime law, Australia must not force these vessels to leave Australian ports while the scale of infection is unknown and sick crew are still on board.

The Morrison government must treat these people the same way we would want Australians treated in other countries. Some 600 Australians are still crewing other cruise ships around the world.

With the help of other governments, approximately 6,000 Australians have disembarked over 50 cruise ships and made it home. Just yesterday hundreds of Australians who were stranded on board the Greg Mortimer arrived home thanks to the assistance and cooperation by the government of Uruguay.


Last Thursday, on Sydney radio 2GB, Peter Dutton said he was almost ready to be back on deck, after almost a month in isolation, after he was diagnosed with Covid-19, so you should see more of him again soon.

Take that however you want.


And the full comments from Chris Bowen, saying Australian Border Force chief Michael Outram’s call for hard maritime borders (I mean, I thought we had those – they were meant to be the Coalition’s whole “we stopped the boats” deal) was an admission Peter Dutton had failed:

I thought this was an extraordinary contribution by the head of Border Force. In effect, he has criticised Australia’s border arrangements.

In effect, the boss of Border Force says we need tougher borders and the government needs to provide them.

It is an extraordinary public intervention and it underlines also everything we have said, that Kristina Keneally has said that we need a full explanation as to what role Home Affairs and Border Force played under Peter Dutton’s management in the disaster of the Ruby Princess, because it is an admission that the rule that our ports have been more lax than the rule that our airports, and here we have a classic example of rolling disaster that the Ruby Princess has been for Australia’s health system.


For those who were wondering, here is Brad Hazzard’s full quote on how, when the Ruby Princess sailed, coronavirus was already an issue:

The day that the ship came in, there were a lot of discussions publicly about what should or shouldn’t have happened.

The chief health officer’s view has been that if the ship stayed alongside [without disembarking passengers] for any length of time, there could have been a lot more people infected and it could have been an even worse outcome.

It is a very unfortunate outcome but at the time that that ship sailed, which was 8 March, from memory, there was Covid-19 well and truly.

I know that all of us were doing – you as journalists were talking about it and I, as health minister, was working hard on it and it is unfortunate that people went out cruising at that particular point.


It says a lot that this plea is even necessary:

High-profile Asian-Australians have started a petition to fight coronavirus-fuelled racism pic.twitter.com/Y3gjKW3IUJ

— SBS News (@SBSNews) April 13, 2020


There have been a few questions today about this, so here you go:


This is still happening.

From AAP:

A prank could have a costly end for a young man after he coughed at an elderly Port Stephens couple out on a walk on Easter Sunday.

A 73-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman were approaching a pedestrian crossing on Victoria Parade in Nelson Bay about 2pm on Sunday when a car pulled up.

A young man leaned his head and shoulders out of the window before coughing and making retching noises at the pair, police said on Monday.

He and the car’s other occupants started laughing before they drove away.

Detectives are hoping to speak with a tanned caucasian man with short, dark, curly hair, aged in his late teens or early twenties, about the incident.

It is an offence to cough or sneeze on someone under new regulations tackling the spread of the coronavirus.

In March, two men were charged after allegedly coughing on police officers and claiming they had coronavirus in separate incidents.


ACT open to easing restrictions on trial basis

The ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, has opened the door to taking part in trials of easing restrictions in conjunction with neighbouring regions in New South Wales.

The ACT has had great success in physical distancing, recording just seven new cases in the last nine days, a total of 103 cases with 72 already recovered.

Asked if the ACT could trial easing restrictions, Barr said there was nothing currently on the agenda for national cabinet and the ACT would be guided by AHPPC health advice.

He said he would be “surprised” if restrictions were eased in April, but the ACT might “in concert or at least in discussion with NSW” consider easing restrictions, because NSW “may adopt a different approach in their state, by region” and the ACT could take part as part of a broader Canberra region.

Asked about federal calls for a consistent approach on schools, Barr said the ACT’s decision to consolidate teaching in some schools while closing others in term 2 is “scalable” – meaning if more students want to attend in person, the system will respond.

ACT police have so far not issued any fines for breaches of social distancing, although Barr warned that people needed to exercise care on the popular Bridge 2 Bridge walk around Lake Burley Griffin and a “flat pack furniture store near the airport” (IKEA).


Australia doesn’t even have an answer on domestic travel as yet (other than don’t do it) but some people are already beginning to ask when trans-Tasman travel will be greenlit once again.

AAP says Jacinda Ardern does not have that high on her priority list:

As New Zealand mourns a fifth victim of Covid-19, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has warned a return to trans-Tasman travel remains a way off.

New Zealand’s coronavirus elimination strategy, which has involved a four-week lockdown, relies on tight border arrangements.

Only citizens and established residents have been allowed back into New Zealand since 20 March, and arrivals in the last week have been subject to mandatory quarantine arrangements.

A dramatic fall in cases has Ardern pondering an exit strategic to the country’s most severe lockdown restrictions, due to end on 23 April, but not a relaxation of the border controls.

“We have created no end date for the border restrictions,” Ardern said, adding that her goal was the resumption of “everyday life” in New Zealand.

“The fastest way we can do that is to maintain the border restrictions we have.

“We will have to live with a very different ability to move globally while we continue to give back freedoms.”


As a former shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen is asked about withdrawing super funds. He is not into it:

This is a bad policy.

Superannuation was set up to give Australians a dignified retirement.

And the Liberal Party has tried to undermine it from the beginning, and will take any opportunity to undermine universal superannuation.

They hated it when Labor introduced it and tried to undermine it then.

Now, they included this measure as part of the broader package necessary to support the Australian economy and of course we will never stand in the way of that package being implemented.

But we have made it very, very clear, this part of the package, the superannuation access package is one that we oppose.

It undermines Australian retirement incomes and puts downward pressure on the Australian stock market at a time at least can afford it.

If you take what might appear to be a relatively small amount out of your account now, that could have big impact on your retirement because you are losing years and years of return on that investment for your retirement.

And for the government not only to facilitate that, but in many ways almost encouraging by their actions, beggars belief, and I just say to those Australians thinking about accessing their superannuation, please, please get every bit of advice before you do so and think about the long-term implications for your finances.


And then, when talking about north-west Tasmania, Chris Bowen goes even harder:

This all started again with the Ruby Princess. The north-west Tasmania cluster has been caused by the Ruby Princess, it is again a reminder that the Ruby Princess is not a New South Wales problem, it is a national scandal.

Chris Bowen is holding his press conference, and has a few things to say about the Ruby Princess cruise ship:

Now, of course, one of the ongoing challenges we have is the ongoing disaster of the management of the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

It is very important that this ship, which has caused so much damage already, not be kicked into the long grass.

We need the government, the federal government to take control of the situation and take control urgently.

Everybody on the Ruby Princess should be tested as a matter of urgency.

A plan should be put in place to quarantine and provide healthcare to those who need it and to work with the cruise ship company to repatriate anybody who is not essential to get that cruise ship home to its home port.

There could still be considerable pressure put on the Australian health system by the Ruby Princess, and this needs to be fixed. These are human beings onboard that ship and they also provide, the ship also an ongoing risk to Australia’s health system, and it needs to be fixed and fixed now.

The first step to be to test every person onboard.


AAP has more on Brad Hazzard’s plea to health and aged care workers (and workers in general) not to go to work if they are feeling unwell:

Brad Hazzard said a female health care worker at Anglicare’s Newmarch House aged care facility in Caddens in western Sydney went to work while she was showing symptoms of an illness for six days.

She has since tested positive for coronavirus.

A resident of the aged care facility has also been confirmed to have the virus while another resident is awaiting test results, Anglicare Sydney said in a statement on Monday.

Newmarch House staff who were in close contact with either the resident or their colleague are self-isolating at home, while all residents are in self-isolation in their own rooms.

All staff have been directed to wear personal protective equipment when caring for residents.

Meanwhile, not coronavirus related, but this is going to be quite the distraction when it comes out later this month. Chapter 44 looks entertaining:

My book isn’t out until next Monday but here are the contents pages! The virtual book tour will be interesting - trying to work out how to do a live event from my kayak! #abiggerpicture pic.twitter.com/9lyRY7dM8e

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) April 13, 2020


It helps if there is not a lot to go outside for:

The ACT is absolutely SLAMMING #COVID19aus.
In the last nine days we've seen daily increases of 0 1 2 1 2 0 0 0 and 1. Just phenomenal. #auspol pic.twitter.com/kK3voa8qcQ

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) April 13, 2020

The ABC is now speaking to a nutritionist who is concerned about comfort eating and what we have been putting into our bodies during isolation, and I would like to know when the national broadcaster started spying on me.

The three easter eggs I had for lunch were obviously self care and egg-sential to my continuing on today.

Greg Hunt says Australia is not pursuing a “herd immunity” strategy:

Firstly, I addressed last week the question of a deliberate herd immunity strategy, which is not the government’s strategy and it’s not the medical advice.

Essentially, if it were 60% of the population that were required to produce this, that would be 15 million Australians and in the there were a 1% loss of life, that would be an unthinkable strategy and one we reject.

At the same time, what we are doing now with containment and suppression and this goal of effective eradication, but without ever being able to promise that any country could completely do that, means that we are giving ourselves the time to plan the exit.

Now is the time to maintain what we are doing, but to plan the road out.

And then in terms of what you have raised in particular, the rapid response is a critical part of it.

What Tasmania has done with a localised ring of isolation is exactly what we talked about early in February, and they have done that, according to the pandemic plan, and that rapid response, that if there were individual cases which broke out into a local spike, then the ability to respond, contain and to isolate will be absolutely critical to Australia’s capacity to, further down the track, progressively lift restrictions on a step-by-step basis.


ACT Health have released its official update:

There has been one new case of Covid-19 recorded in the ACT in the past 24 hours. The ACT’s total is now 103.

The new confirmed case is a female in her 50s who was a close contact of a previous confirmed case.

A total of 72 cases have recovered from Covid-19 and have been released from self-isolation.

There are currently three Covid-19 patients in Canberra hospitals. The remainder are isolating at home with ACT Health support.

The ACT has recorded two deaths.

The number of negative tests in the ACT is now 6191.


On whether or not Michael McCormack is actually working on subsidising domestic flights – he told the ABC this morning he had been speaking to Qantas and Virgin about that “very thing” this morning, only to have Simon Birmingham, just a short time later tell the same program he believed domestic flight subsidies were “unlikely”, Greg Hunt takes the middle road:

Look, I understand that the deputy prime minister is working directly with the aviation sector, and he will have more to say in coming days on that.

...I know he’s working very directly with them and I will respectfully not pre-empt that.

Australia research to investigate population's immunity levels

Professor Sharon Lewin, who is heading up the Apprise Centre of Research Excellence, which leads Australia’s research into infectious diseases, is also at this press conference.

She says the group is building on research from around Australia and the world, to try and find out exactly how many people in Australia are immune to Covid-19.

Apprise will lead a national zero prevalence study to understand how many people really are immune to coronavirus.

Many of you would have heard about the concept of herd immunity, or people becoming immune to the virus without ever getting sick.

We still have no idea how common that occurs. To do that we need a blood test for coronavirus, which we now have, and led by Kristine McCartney from the University of Sydney we will analyst thousands of Australians from different risk groups to understand how common immunity is.


Greg Hunt:

I think it is very important to say that now is the time to stay the course. To continue with these self-isolation and social distancing. These are producing real reductions in the rate of growth, real reductions in the number of new cases, and real increases in the number of cleared cases.

Australia's Covid numbers

Greg Hunt says Australia now has 6,335 people diagnosed with Covid-19

Of those

61 people have died

238 people are in hospital

81 are in intensive care

35 are on ventilators

More than half have recovered

It’s been enough that the health minister says he now knows and “believes absolutely” that Australia will get through Covid-19. (Which is a little less heartening, if you think about what that phrase actually means:

This has a real consequence in the best sense. We are now seeing consolidation of the flattening of the curve.

The latest data shows that we have had consistent growth in new cases of below 2% a day. What that means is that we are now beginning to see a consolidated flattening of the curve.

That doesn’t mean we’re out of our challenge. There is still growth and there could, at any time, be outbreaks and spikes. But this is a cause for real hope and real aspiration.

We said at the start that we would get through this. We are getting through this.

And now I know - and I believe absolutely - we will get through this.

I want to say thank you to all Australians for their action.

Australia seeing 'consolidation' of flattening of the curve

Greg Hunt says physical distancing is working;

I said before this weekend that Easter could be the most important weekend in our fight against the coronavirus. Australians have done what we had hoped – and more.

They have stayed at home. They have self-isolated.

They have responded with the best sense of Australia imaginable. The hard data is that our transport movements have been below 13% over the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Easter, with Easter Sunday data still to come.

Below 13% of the average movements for this time in an ordinary year. That means that Australians are making a difference. They are saving lives and protecting lives with their own actions. Staying at home. Maintaining the distance. Responding to the requests.

I couldn’t be more impressed, more honoured, and more heartened by the work of Australians over the Easter weekend and in the weeks before.


Greg Hunt:

Ring ahead, make an appointment. It can be any time in the next two months. One of the products, which is very important, is blood plasma.

Blood plasma has recently been identified... as a potential part of globally leading treatment in a cooperative consortium between Australia and Japanese interests.

This could assist those patients who are most ill with Covid in their treatment. It still to be determined, but plasma plays a very important role going forward.

Greg Hunt is speaking, and repeating the calls from the Red Cross over the past month, asking people to, if they can, continue to give blood.

Greg Hunt is about to give his daily update.

That will include a $3m further investment in training for health workers.

Labor has muscled up its response on the government’s university support package, which guarantees universities funding for 2020 but doesn’t provide much extra beyond $100m in regulatory relief which has to be shared with the broader tertiary education sector, including vocational providers.

On Sunday the treasury spokesman, Jim Chalmers, said only that Labor would study the detail, but on Monday the shadow education minister, Tanya Plibersek, came out swinging.

Extra support for universities is always welcome, but the government’s announcement yesterday will sadly not do enough to save jobs and protect critical research during the Covid-19 crisis ...

“If the federal government fails to deliver more help now, universities have said ... tens of thousands of livelihoods [will be] gone – a catastrophe. We’re talking about academics, tutors, admin staff, library staff, catering staff, grounds staff, cleaners, and many others – all with families, trying to make ends meet. It is disappointing that the government has refused to make universities eligible for jobkeeper payments on the same basis as other not-for-profit organisations. The treasurer could fix this with the stroke of a pen. The government is also denying universities access to low or no interest loans.”


For commercial landlords, those that help pass on rental relief (or have seen a downturn because of the coronavirus crisis) will receive a 25% waiver or refund (depending on whether or not they have already paid their land tax) as well as a three-month deferral.


With the NSW tenancies agreement, the treasurer Dom Perrottet says:

On the basis of residential, we ask landlords to work through with their tenants over this period of time.

“Where tenants have not been affected by Covid-19, then their obligations to pay rent remain in place and we will work through these issues as they see fit.

“The reality is, as a result of this decision today, no tenant can be evicted over the next six months, simply because of being in a rental arrears.

“The other point I would make, for real estate agents that have marks against tenants names who fall behind in rental arrears, that those marks will not be put against that tenant’s name in circumstances where they have fallen into rental arrears over the next six months.”


Why has transmission been so bad on the Ruby Princess, compared to other cruise ships which came in during that period? Brad Hazzard says that is a question for the chief medical officer, Kerry Chant, when she is back;

Clearly, there has been a very close proximity in that ship and who was it that caused it is still – I think the jury is well and truly out on that, in the sense of who brought it onto the ship. The New Zealand government is struggling with that as well, trying to come to grips with it.

It is a very challenging issue for the medical people to actually track down the original source.

I do know that the chief health officer said if the ship had stayed alongside for much longer, then there could have been a lot more people who were infected. That is an issue for you to direct to the chief health officer when she is back on deck.


Brad Hazzard takes back the microphone when questions move to the NRL:

As I have said in the past, the NRL made the choice, as has every other sport worldwide, to cease playing the game. Obviously there are work health and safety issues that have to be considered.

That is for them to work through. I think it is fair to say that we would all love to see the league back playing. I am looking forward to Manly winning the season [eye-roll emoji], if it starts.

But, the problem for NRL is that it does have to make sure that it is keeping its players safe, keeping everybody safe and complying with the public [restrictions].


Dr Christine Selvey says 66 crew members from the Ruby Princess have tested positive for Covid-19.

I would like to emphasise that they – some of those people are already very close to recovery, or just recovering. Their infections have been spread out over a few weeks. They have just been tested recently which is why the numbers have gone up so high.

On whether or not there should have been more tests on the ship, Selvey says:

I have heard some requests that everybody on the ship should be tested. That is not a good strategy for a couple of reasons. First of all, it won’t change the way that anyone is being managed on the ship or the way the outbreak has been managed on the ship. Secondly, testing everybody doesn’t identify everybody who might be infected. That is because soon after infection, the tests are negative during the period the incubation period from when someone gets the virus to when they will develop symptoms. They will only test positive at the time of symptoms or just before it.


Two more deaths linked to Ruby Princess cruise

NSW Health has reported two more deaths – a 74-year-old woman who died in John Hunter hospital and a 79-year-old man who died while being treated in Northern Beaches hospital.

Both were passengers on the Ruby Princess cruise ship and were infected on the ship.

The Ruby Princess.
The Ruby Princess. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP


More money will also be spent on mediation to help tenants and landlords come to an agreement.


The NSW treasurer, Dom Perrottet, has a bit more information on the tenancy package announced for that state today:

This policy is about protection.

Protecting tenants from being evicted due to circumstances outside their control.

It protects landlords from tenants in circumstances where payment of rent is not being paid when it should be paid.

These measures today go to the heart of that.

I would make the point that what is really important here is for landlords and tenants to be sitting down together and negotiating an agreement through this phase.

It is pleasing to note that, right across the board, this has already been happening at both a commercial, retail and residential level.

The reality is the more that a landlord looks after their tenant, and the more that a tenant works with their landlord, the better off that both will be as we move through this pandemic.

Today’s announcement will provide a 25% rebate or waiver for landlords who pass on an equivalent amount of rental relief for their tenants.

We will also be deferring land tax for the next three months for those who have yet to pay their land tax bill for this year.


Doctor Christine Selvey says NSW health authorities are worried about the potential for community outbreak in these areas:

Penrith local government area, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland and the Westmead areas. Also people in the inner west of Sydney, in eastern Sydney in Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick. Also in Ryde in the northern Sydney local government area. We are continuing to have the same messages for people in Manning and Lake Macquarie area in Newcastle.


NSW update

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said too many people, including healthcare and aged care workers, are going to work, while ill.

If you’re feeling sick and you’re working in an aged care facility, you are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our state, please don’t go to work! The potential is disastrous consequences if you’re working with some of our most vulnerable people. I will leave it at that.


There have now been 144 people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Tasmania, which includes the 11 cases in the last 24 hours.

Of those, there have been 44 cases in the south, 25 in the north and 72 in the north-west (three other cases were interstaters who were diagnosed in Tasmania).

With the north-west outbreak, Tasmanian health authorities have identified at least 305 people who have been in contact with confirmed cases, a number it expects will “increase quite dramatically”.

Testing will be expanded in Tasmania, as the state attempts to keep a lid on what is happening.

Coronavirus Assessment Clinic in Tasmania.
Coronavirus Assessment Clinic in Tasmania. Photograph: Barbara Walton/EPA


You may remember a week or so ago, when we reported about a Covid-19 outbreak among Qantas baggage handlers at the Adelaide airport.

That is still going on, with 750 Qantas staff now being asked to self-quarantine.

The Transport Workers Union is demanding a full investigation into the handling of the outbreak, including how Qantas handled it.

From AAP:

The airline cluster stands at 34, including 18 baggage handlers, 13 of their close contacts and three other Qantas staff.

South Australia’s chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said those recently included in the cluster indicated a spread to other areas of the airline’s operations.

There are concerns for people who worked as airport duty managers, pilot and cabin crew managers and for people in an area used by engineers.

The TWU said it was compiling a dossier of evidence on how Qantas allowed the virus to spread at Adelaide Airport which it would submit to SA Health and SafeWork SA in the coming days.


We know that the first person managed at the hospital with coronavirus infection was a person from the Ruby Princess cruise, who, sadly, died.

As did another person from the Ruby Princess a week or so later.

So that’s obviously one of our strongest leads for looking at the source of the infection.

The 60 cases, information on them is being collected, and the movements of those people when we worked, when they were admitted to hospital, is being plotted and worked out through our epidemiologists, and they’ll be looking for links between patients and staff to look for the mechanism of how it appears to have spread from person-to-person over the last couple of weeks.

We’re not in a position to provide all that detail at the moment.

It’s important that we don’t jump to any conclusions too quickly, but this is a virus that particularly spreads from person-to-person.

There’s a lesser possibility of it spreading from the inanimate environment to people, but we’ll be looking particularly at how it could have passed from person-to-person through the hospital community.

The Ruby Princess, with crew only onboard.
The Ruby Princess, with crew only onboard. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP


There have been 60 cases, not counting two cruise ship patients, in the north-west of Tasmania.

42 have been health care workers.

That’s why the state has shut down two of its hospitals and put 5,000 people under a strict quarantine order.


Queensland is also rolling out laptops and Telstra internet sim cards for students who have been doing without:

For children who don’t have a laptop at home, schools can loan them devices.

We’ve worked with Telstra to secure more than 5000 sim cards to make sure students without internet connectivity can access online resources.


— Grace Grace MP (@gracextwo) April 13, 2020

Peter Gutwein:

Never before has a premier had to ask a community to do this. I’ve got to admit, the responsibility rests heavy on me in having to make these decisions.

But I would ask that you work with us. This is the best way that we can get on top of this – that we can stop the spread of this insidious disease, and importantly, that we can save lives.

So if you’ve been asked to quarantine, please do so. Please ensure your family does it with you, and importantly, follow the rules. Stay home and save lives, and we will all get through this together.


11 people were newly diagnosed with Covid-19 overnight in Tasmania.

Eight were health care workers, seven from the North-West Hospital.


New state announcements

So a lot just happened in that 10 minutes:

Queensland will continue distance learning for at least the first five weeks of term 2, with the situation to be reviewed on 15 May.

Queensland schools will be open, and teachers and staff on-site, for parents who have to send their children to school grounds.

Tasmania has placed most of the north-west of the state on lockdown.

1,200 hospital staff and their families, meaning about 5,000 members of the north-west community, have been placed on a strict quarantine lockdown.


Peter Gutwein:

That is unprecedented.

It is a significant ask of the north-west coast and the residents of the north-west coast.

But I would ask that you work with us. I would ask that you take these necessary steps to ensure that we can control this outbreak, that we can get on top of it and that we can ensure that we not only flatten the curve, but that we work to crush it. This outbreak is unfortunate.

We need to understand how it’s occurred, and there will be contact tracing and tracking that will occur to ensure that we can do this.

But with the numbers of people that we have quarantined, the most important thing that people can do is to ensure that they stay at home with their families, that they follow the rules and that they ensure that we can get on top of this.

We don’t want to see community transmission. I live in hope that that’s not going to occur.

But I think reasonably, we would have to expect that at some stage, that is going to bubble up. But we need to deal with this outbreak first.

Tasmania update

Peter Gutwein is once again pleading with Tasmanians to keep following the physical distancing rules.

He says that it is the first time in 100 years that Tasmania has had to close hospitals (two in the north-west were closed after a cluster outbreak, with further restrictions in that area, including helicopter patrols).

It is an extreme measure but it’s a measure that we have needed to take.

I’m pleased that we’ve made a request to the federal government to provide further resources, and we will see an AUSMAT team, an Australian medical assistance team, key leaders supported by the ADF, coming into the state over the course of this week to help us deliver the medical services that we need on the north-west coast and the minister can say more about those matters in a moment.

1,200 of the hospital staff, will be quarantined, with their families – bringing the number to about 5,000 – to try and control the outbreak.


Queensland schools update

Queensland schools will be open for term 2 – but it will be much like it was when the term ended – open for essential workers and those who have no other choice, but parents who want to keep their students home, can.

The rest will be done as remote or distance learning.

That will be reviewed on May 15 (so first five weeks of the term will be remote or online learning, but for parents who need to send their children to school, the schools will be open, and teachers will be there)

Annastacia Palaszczuk:

But what I want to say is - we want to give you some certainty and some clarity.

But just as I can’t predict what’s happening in the next week or two, we don’t know what’s going to be happening by the end of May, and that is why we want to put that position in place in concrete until then, and by May 15, we will once again let people know definitely which way to go.

Dan Andrews update

The Victorian premier says another 13 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last 24 hours.

There are 26 people in hospital not in ICU, and 14 people who are receiving intensive care. So a total of 40 people that are in Victorian hospitals.

Police are out and about and doing their work to enforce the social distancing rules that have been in place for some weeks now.

There’s 20,426 checks that have been made since 21 March.

And 1,123 of those checks in the last 24 hours.

Essentially, much like yesterday and recent days, we’re seeing some stability in our numbers in terms of the number of additional cases.


That story is also interesting because of the role Asic now has, following the banking royal commission, but also, the role it has watching everything that is happening in the finance world and its reactions following the economic slowdown.

We have already seen Asic send out a warning about real estate agents issuing ‘financial advice’ after reports tenants who were financially struggling were being encouraged to investigate dipping into their superannuation.


In case you missed it, Ben Butler and Ben Smee have this (non-Covid related story:

The high-end investment fund Mayfair 101 launched a website comparing its products to bank term deposits last month, after the corporate regulator had enlisted the help of Google to block search traffic to a similar Mayfair-run site.

On Monday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission began legal action against Mayfair 101, the firm behind the ambitious redevelopment of Queensland’s Dunk Island, claiming its advertisements are misleading and deceptive.

The regulator’s case centres on advertisements and websites run by Mayfair that compare its products to term deposits, including claims it can provide favourable rates of return.

The decision to take legal action follows two years of investigations into the Mayfair 101 group.

For our Tasmanian readers:

Tasmanians: if you live in the NW, please do slide into my DMs to tell me how people are reacting to the new restrictions/how you feel about helicopter patrols. #politas (or email calla.wahlquist[at]https://t.co/Al3xsDTpVh. DMs open)

— Calla Wahlquist (@callapilla) April 13, 2020


Both the Victorian and Queensland premiers will hold their press conferences at 11am.

There aren’t a lot of new announcements to come from either of those states when it comes to Covid-19. Victoria looks like having a glint of normal business returning, with Daniel Andrews to also talk about level crossing removals.


Police in Victoria have continued to use the coronavirus laws to crack down on motorcycle gangs, because while a pandemic changes a lot of things it does not stop police from being police.

Six alleged organised motorcycle gang members who were “gathered in cars in Flinders Street” are among the 158 people fined by police in the past 24 hours, a spokeswoman said.

Also fined were eight people allegedly having a party “playing loud music” (loud music is not specifically against public health orders) in St Kilda East on Sunday night; tourists allegedly holding a party in a short-stay property at Cowes, and “multiple instances of private gatherings at residential properties”. It is unclear how police became aware of these gatherings – presumably they were reported by neighbours.

In the past 24 hours, police said, they have conducted 1,123 spot checks to ensure people are complying with social isolation and social distancing orders.

That makes 20,426 spot checks since the rules came into effect on 21 March. And yesterday premier Daniel Andrews extended the state of emergency – and therefore the health orders – until 11 May.


Anyone looking for more information on the state of NRL, can find it here:

The Liberal senator, Eric Abetz, has given us a blast from the past this morning by reminding us of some legislation that was set to be a big focus for the Coalition in 2020: the religious freedom package.

The Morrison government had released a second draft bill in December and consultation closed in January, with many still unhappy about the state of the bill.

It has not yet been introduced to parliament and will still have to go through a committee inquiry before it is voted on.

Abetz told Sky News it was understandable the controversial legislation is “on the back burner for the moment” because the attorney general Christian Porter is also responsible for industrial relations, and is busy helping employers and employees doing it tough.

Abetz said:

That said, religious freedom is a fundamental freedom enshrined in the UN’s protection of human rights. Let’s hope 2021 is the year religious freedom will be enshrined in our legislation, so the Tasmanian archbishop won’t have to face the trauma of complaints simply for teaching Catholic church’s on view on marriage.

(NB: the complaint was about archbishop Porteous saying messing with marriage is “messing with children” – a dog whistle about pedophilia, not simply teaching the church view. The complaint was also dropped.)

So, obviously Abetz is setting down some markers about how long is too long to delay the legislation.


But Queensland, being Queensland, means one of those fines included a bloke who tried to take a helicopter to Moreton Island. Twice.

Some people are breaching quarantine. If they’re in quarantine and they don’t abide by that, we’ll take action in relation to that. There’s the fellow with the helicopter who thought it was OK to fly to an area, against the advisory, or the requirements of the directions. Not only once, but twice. On both occasions action has been taken.

If they do it again, action will be taken again. That’s not on. There’s been a number of other types of incidences. In our state the size of this, there’s lots of activity going on and lots of people are doing that we need to intercept.


Queensland’s fines are worth $1,334.


Queensland police are pleased with how the weekend went, from an enforcement point of view. I missed his name, but the police officer giving the Brisbane press conference says:

Overall the community has been fantastic. Probably the quietest Easter we have seen for a long time.

Nonetheless there’s still people who do the wrong thing.

We issued 496 penalty infringement notices. Where people engage with our police, police see they may be not complying with the directions, we have a conversation with them. If they’re trying to do the right thing, they don’t understand, we give them the opportunity to comply. If they do the wrong thing, then we take action.

The repatriation flights Marise Payne announced last week are starting to touch down in Australia.

The special commercial charter flights, designed to get Australians still stranded overseas home, began in earnest late last week.

The latest arrival to land was a Singapore Airlines flight carrying just under 200 Australians from Cambodia.

The government is stepping in, using diplomatic channels to organise not just the airlines, but the stopovers as international commercial flights disappear.

Passengers pay for the flight themselves. More flights are being arranged for Australians still in Peru and Argentina.


The NRL’s 28 May restart date is still looking ambitious, particularly after Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government would not lift travel and quarantine restrictions for players.

In response, Queensland great, Gorden Tallis, said players would need to make sacrifices to ensure the game went on, even if it meant moving to NSW for the season, to make it happen.

As AAP reports:

Tallis, who famously sat out the 1996 season in support of Super League and his commitment to the Broncos, said the current day players must also be prepared to make sacrifices for the greater good of the game.

“Mate, I’m prepared to drive down to come and sit on the couch [to be on Fox League Live],” Tallis said.

“The players, they’ve got to do whatever they’ve got to do to get paid, to make sure the competition goes ahead. Simple as that.”

The AFL is eyeing off July as a possible re-start date.


The university sector has breathed a pretty big sigh of relief at the news the government will guarantee projected enrolment figures through the Commonwealth Grants Scheme and HELP funding, even if Covid-19 means 2020 enrolments drop.

Universities Australia Chair Professor Deborah Terry said it gave the sector confidence.

This assurance signals the Government’s confidence in the sector and its crucial role in national recovery and is an important first step.”

But universities are still asking to be included as part of the jobkeeper arrangement, warning jobs will be lost, if the wage subsidy is not put in place.


Scott Morrison has sent his condolences after the death of one of Australia’s most feted mandarins, Ted Evans.

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Ted Evans, one of Australia’s great public servants.

Ted began his working life as a linesman with the Postmaster-General’s department in Ipswich, Queensland. For a decade, he balanced the physical rigours of his work with earning a Honours degree in economics from the University of Queensland.

Ted joined the Australian treasury in 1968 and devoted the next 43 years of his working life to public service, including eight years as treasury secretary from 1993 until 2001. He then served ten years on the board of Westpac from 2001 until his retirement in 2011, including four years as chairman.

Ted has left an indelible mark on Australia. As treasury secretary, Ted advised the Keating and Howard governments on balancing the budget, major tax reforms, including introduction of the GST, and establishment of the key economic frameworks that continue to serve Australia well to this day.

He was renowned for his sharp intellect, modesty, integrity and the quiet fearlessness and forcefulness of his advice, earning the respect of prime ministers and treasurers on all sides of politics.


Restrictions to be reviewed in coming weeks

Good signs though, tend to lead to people feeling impatient, which means loosening the physical distance restrictions and isolation rules is once again on the agenda.

Victoria has extended its state of emergency for another month.

Tasmania, attempting to deal with an outbreak in its north-west, is cracking down harder in the cluster area.

The chief medical officer, professor Brendan Murphy, told ABC radio that loosening some of the restrictions which are in place is something which the national cabinet will look at – but not yet:

I think we need to look at all of the data, look at our preparedness, and the national cabinet will be making a lot of decisions about what if anything can be relaxed in the coming weeks.


After two more Australians who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 died overnight, Australia’s toll stands at 61.

There was a sliver of light though, with just 33 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

There is always the caveat though, as we say every Monday, that less testing was conducted on the weekend, but it is a good sign.


For those wondering about what New Zealand is doing:

New Zealand epidemic curve. The Good news is their new case numbers are falling. But I think NSW and Australian epidemic curves are looking better and Australia have achieved this with out the full lock down that NZ has done. pic.twitter.com/ZFqALHZx6G

— Peter Collignon (@CollignonPeter) April 12, 2020


Should anyone be booking a trip for December? Simon Birmingham says no:

I wouldn’t put any guarantees that you could undertake that overseas trip in December.

That is a long time away and hard to make predictions about what will happen then.

We could be in this circumstance for quite some period of time.

The success we are having, in terms of slowing the spread of the virus in Australia, does mean we could be at risk, in terms of exposure to people from overseas and countries who have not controlled it so well for quite some period of time.

We will have to be mindful of that, follow the public health advice and that is why I say to Australians, firstly, keep doing the right thing to keep yourself and fellow Australians safe, then there may come a time where at least we can relax some of the travel restrictions within Australia and that will give you a chance to be able to get out, if you’re in a position where you can afford to do so, perhaps to support some of the regions who, at the start of the year, were dealing with bushfires or the many other tourism regions who are struggling at present because of the loss of business.

Simon Birmingham said at this point of time, everything is a day by day proposition – including domestic travel:

I think we have got to take everything a step at a time at present. We are protecting lives by restricting travel, we are protecting jobs as a government by putting in place measures such as the jobkeeper payment and additional support for businesses, including support for the airlines. Step by step we have been working through this. As we have said all along, our response will continue to be targeted, proportionate and deal with the circumstances as we find them.


But Simon Birmingham, on the same program just a few moments later, says he believes subsidising domestic flights would be “an unlikely step”.

...But, ultimately, we will keep working carefully through this crisis.

At present our focus is on telling people don’t travel and our gratitude to Australians who have heeded that message and not traveled over the Easter break.

For a while to come, travel is still off the books for people for the foreseeable future.

There will come a time and on this public holiday Monday, perhaps for those Australians who can, it is a good chance to do dreaming by looking up your favourite Australian tourism destination or the one you might love to visit in the future and think about what you can do in the months and years ahead when you get back into a position to do so.


The deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack has blessed ABC screens this morning.

(I know)

Asked by Michael Rowland whether or not the government is considering subsidising domestic flights – most routes have been grounded – McCormack says he spent the weekend “talking about that very thing, talking to Virgin, to Qantas, trying to make sure that we have those trunk routes between capital cities” but there doesn’t look like being an answer as yet.

The Government is considering subsidising domestic flights for both Qantas and Virgin, says Deputy PM @M_McCormackMP.

"Indeed, I spent the weekend talking about that very thing with Virgin, with Qantas." pic.twitter.com/WeI4WyJEeF

— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) April 12, 2020


Very, very sad news for a lot of comedy fans to wake up

Fifty years and he only got cross with me once... well maybe twice... no quite a lot actually! No one could wear silly costumes or do dangerous stunts like Tim. I know it hurt cos he used to cry a lot. Sorry Timbo. A true visual comic and a great friend x.

— Bill Oddie Official (@BillOddie) April 12, 2020

Thank you everyone who has sent kind messages about the loss of Tim. It’s devastating to lose a friend and colleague of 50+ years. Fun, sociable and adorably silly, Tim was a class act. Our thoughts are with his family.

— Graeme Garden (@GraemeGarden1) April 12, 2020

Greg Hunt will make both those announcements during his daily briefing, which today, will be at 1pm.

Things are moving so quickly with Covid-19, it is hard for even health care workers to keep up.

Another $1m will be spent to help train frontline health workers on how to better spot and identify severe cases of the coronavirus in patients through CT scans, while another $2m will be spent on training “to understand the prevalence, improve diagnostic tests and develop innovative tools that limit transmission of coronavirus”.


Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy spoke to Fran Kelly on RN this morning.

He says Australia is in the suppression stage, but that it is still too complicated (and early) to speak about exit strategies.

On the New Zealand strategy of a complete shutdown – and how successful it will be in eliminating the virus from its own population, professor Murphy says:

The question is that no one knows yet if it’s realistic.


While we all keep measuring time in phone battery percentages, there has been some more good news in how Australia is managing to flatten the curve this weekend:

🚨CMO Brendan Murphy says 33 new cases #COVID__19 overnight

Nationwide death toll: 61

Over 6000 cases of infection

Caveat: testing down over the long weekend.

Trend looking good. Source @Ft pic.twitter.com/LUPKHPO2Kp

— Laura Jayes (@ljayes) April 12, 2020

With no agreement coming out of national cabinet as yet, states are starting to move individually on rental answers.

NSW is the latest, as AAP reports:

The NSW government has introduced a $440m rent relief package along with measures to support landlords and tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

NSW commercial and residential tenants significantly impacted by Covid-19 will have greater protection from eviction as the state government puts $440m towards rent relief in the form of land tax waivers or rebates.

The government’s six-month support package will include a moratorium on applications for forced residential evictions due to rental arrears for households financially disadvantaged by the pandemic.

Residential landlords and tenants will be required to negotiate rental payments in good faith in circumstances where a household has lost at least 25% of its income because of the coronavirus.

Eligible tenants will be protected from eviction until the National Civil and Administrative Tribunal is satisfied negotiations have concluded, with any unpaid rent to accrue as arrears in that time.


Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today’s coverage of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic here in Australia. Hope you’re having a relaxing Easter weekend.

In case you missed it, here’s what happened yesterday:

  • The federal government talked down extending the jobkeeper payment beyond its current capacity, although treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed it would cost an extra $18bn (beyond the current $130bn) to include more casuals and others who have missed out on the payment.
  • There were eleven new confirmed cases of coronavirus around the country bringing the total to 6,314, and three more deaths, taking the toll up to 59.
  • A man in hotel quarantine in Melbourne died, his death is not being treated as suspicious.
  • Tasmania will close down two hospitals in north-west Tasmania and clean them out after a number of infections were identified as being connected with the hospitals.
  • A further shutdown of most retail outlets aside from those absolutely necessary will be in place in the region for the next two weeks.
  • Some 112 passengers from the Antarctic cruise ship the Greg Mortimer touched down in Melbourne and, after medical checks, are headed for quarantine. About 16 New Zealanders went straight onto a smaller plane to return home.
  • Victoria extended its state of emergency for four more weeks, to 11 May.
  • Education minister Dan Tehan said costs for short courses in universities and tertiary settings would be cut, and he guaranteed no funding cuts for universities.

You have Amy Remeikis with you this morning.



Lisa Cox (now) Josh Taylor (earlier) Amy Remeikis (earlier)

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