Australia’s aged care system will face coronavirus stress tests to avoid deadly outbreaks that swept through Melbourne nursing homes.
On Friday, Kerala added over 23 to its tally of 33 lives lost reported till August 6. West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, MP and Maharashtra are the worst affected states.
About 69 lakh people in Bihar and 57 lakh in Assam have been affected by floods, displaced or marooned. Millions across India have lost their habitat, livestock and livelihood, taking shelter in thousands of relief camps run by state authorities. The Centre has deployed 141 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for rescue operations, besides the state disaster response forces (SDRF).
In the last 10 days state governments have reported more than 200 deaths due to floods and landslides, taking the overall tally close to 900. West Bengal has the highest deaths at 239, followed by 136 in Assam, 87 in Gujarat and 74 each in Karnataka and MP. The total flood-related casualties is likely to go up as many states are not filing their ‘situation reports’ regularly with the Centre and rivers are flowing above the danger level in almost all states.
In Assam, out of 136 flood-related deaths reported by the state government, at least 26 have been caused by landslides. Kerala’s Idukki, in a single day on Friday, saw over 23 perish and scores missing in landslides caused by floods.
The deluge has made it difficult for states to maintain social distancing and follow other guidelines, as prescribed by the Centre in view of the outbreak of coronavirus, at relief camps or during its evacuation operations.
Disasters related to climate change such as floods have become a recurring phenomenon in India with over a thousand deaths reported every year and millions of people pushed into poverty due to loss of habitat and livelihood.
Of all the disasters recorded globally between 1998-2017, floods accounted for 44%. Climate change is causing more havoc than earthquakes and tsunamis. That makes India’s development highly risky.
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Western Australia’s public schools have been hit hard by the growth in funding for non-government schools during the past decade, according to a new report.
Most states are going backwards in their plans to open up their economies as Victoria’s severe coronavirus outbreak spooks authorities.
On Monday, both South Australia and Tasmania announced changes as Victoria’s case numbers continue to remain high. It comes after NSW, Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria wound back the relaxing of their restrictions.
The moves have left Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s three-step plan to end coronavirus restrictions in tatters.
Back in May, an optimistic PM announced his plan to create a “COVID-safe society and economy” by July.
Sadly that timeline has come and gone and most states are now reversing or delaying their plans to open up.
Stage one and two of the plan involved allowing larger gatherings in people’s homes of up to 20 people, and the re-opening of businesses such as gyms, beauty salons, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks.
Some interstate travel could be permissible in stage two, Mr Morrison said.
Stage three would have seen gathering sizes increased to 100 in pubs and nightclubs.
Interstate travel would have been allowed to resume, and it was expected that cross-Tasman and Pacific Island travel, as well as international student travel would also have been considered.
Australia got very close to fulfilling the PM’s three-step plan but progress stalled and went backwards after Victoria’s outbreak.
Here’s where each state stands:
On Monday, Premier Steven Marshall announced new restrictions starting from Wednesday after two new coronavirus cases were identified.
The new restrictions will see at-home gatherings reduced from 50 down to 10 people, while patrons at licensed pubs and clubs must be seated.
Mr Marshall said “Australia is on high alert” and pointed to the outbreak in Victoria.
“There are more than 6000 active cases in Victoria, and we are extraordinarily concerned at the potential for seeding in other jurisdictions,” Mr Marshall said.
Last month South Australia announced it would no longer lift its border restrictions with New South Wales on July 20, citing concerns about an outbreak in the state.
Residents will still be able to enter the state, but will need to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine. Victorians are not able to enter SA at all.
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On Monday, Premier Peter Gutwein announced Tasmania would not be re-opening its borders to South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory as expected on August 7.
Mr Gutwein says the state will not open other parts of Australia before August 31.
The state moved to stage 3 restrictions on June 26, allowing up to 20 people to gather in their own homes and allowing up to 250 people to gather in indoor venues, subject to the one person per two square metres rule.
The state has delayed its move to phase 5 of its road map, which was due to be implemented on August 1.
The state has set a tentative new date for the beginning of phase 5 on August 15 but a final decision on whether this can proceed will be decided later.
Phase 5 would see remaining restrictions removed, except WA’s hard border and access to remote Aboriginal communities.
It would also see the removal of WA’s 2 square metre rule and the 50 per cent capacity for our major venues.
The state went to phase 4 on June 27 and this removed requirements for people to be seated at pubs and restaurants, and the requirement to maintain a patron register at these venues.
Just weeks after interstate visitors were welcomed back to Queensland, the axe was swung on Sydney residents and others living in a list of hotspots that have been barred from entering the state.
The state has also reinstated restrictions from July 24 for businesses to ensure all dining and drinking is for seated patrons.
Organisers of events expected to have more than 500 people have to inform the local public health unit at least 10 business days before the event taking place.
The changes come after three women, who tested positive coronavirus, were found to have lied about visiting Melbourne and visited a number of Brisbane venues while infectious.
NEW SOUTH WALES
The state is grappling with its own outbreak, which appears to have been imported from Victoria.
Last month Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced some restrictions would be wound back including reducing the size of groups allowed in hospital venues from 20 people to 10 people.
Venues are now allowed to have a maximum of 300 people if the one person per four square metre rule is maintained.
Weddings and corporate events were restricted to 150 people, while funerals and religious venues were limited to 100 people.
NSW has also closed its border with Victoria for the first time in 100 years.
There’s currently no evidence of community transmission in the Northern Territory and the locals are keen to keep it that way.
The Indigenous community and traditional owners living close to Uluru created a blockade at the entry of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park on Monday after a Jetstar flight was allowed to land from a considered coronavirus hotspot.
Those from a declared hotspot, including those coming from Victoria and parts of NSW and Queensland, have been asked to reconsider their plans and must undertake 14 days mandatory supervised quarantine at their own cost of $2500.
But locals were not happy when a plane from Brisbane was allowed to land, taking their health concerns into their own hands.
Since July 17, anyone who is not from a hotspot does not have to self-quarantine.
Stage 3 restrictions have been in place since June 5, which allows residents to play team sports and go to cinemas and nightclubs.
Major events and public gatherings of over 500 people are allowed but must receive formal approval the Northern Territory Chief Health Officer.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Canberrans are being urged not to travel to areas where there are known cases of the coronavirus. Those who have visited specific NSW venues, including the Crossroads Hotel and Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, on certain dates are required to self-quarantine for 14 days even if they do not have any symptoms.
The ACT moved to Step 2.2 restrictions on June 19, 12 noon, which allows up to 100 people to gather in hospital venues, subject to the one per four square metre rule.
No date has yet been set for its move to Step 3.
The epicentre of Australia’s explosion of coronavirus cases introduced a stage 3 lockdown last month before announcing a stage 4 lockdown on Melbourne residents from Sunday night.
Premier Daniel Andrews declared a ‘state of disaster’, giving authorities sweeping powers, which includes a nightly curfew for Greater Melbourne from 8pm to 5am.
The lockdown restricts people from travelling more than 5km from their home and only one person is able to leave the home to buy groceries once a day.
People can only exercise for one hour a day and must also stay close to home.
Those in regional Victoria will also enter stage 3 restrictions on Wednesday at midnight, providing just four reasons to leave one’s home – seeking medical care, providing care, buying groceries, and working or learning if it can’t be done remotely.
It probably goes without saying that no state or territory is welcoming travellers from Victoria.
SIRA chief executive Carmel Donnelly has described icare’s performance as “unacceptable” and said the agency’s financial position was a “grave concern”
A joint investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and ABC’s Four Corners last week revealed icare underpaid as many as 52,000 injured workers by up to $80 million in compensation.
However, icare says its initial calculations have since been revised down, and it estimates 5000 to 10,000 workers have been underpaid up to $10 million in total.
The Herald also revealed on Saturday that the May briefing note recommended $4 billion in taxpayer funding would be required by the end of the year to return the Treasury Managed Fund (TMF) to “full funding” after an “adverse movement” of $1.4 billion.
The TMF, which is managed by icare, covers more than 200 public sector agencies and their 335,000 workers and protects more than $228 billion of the state’s assets, including the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
But icare has disputed the $4 billion figure and said only “$2 billion was transferred from the Treasury to the TMF.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the losses for the scheme were linked to investment market volatility as a result of COVID-19, the reduction of premium income due to the impact of the pandemic and the cancellation of policies.
But the May briefing note points out there was also a substantial loss in the workers’ compensation scheme in the previous financial year before the pandemic.
“The pre-COVID draft budget recently prepared by icare shows a forecast net loss of $850 million for 2019/20 ($874 million loss in 2018/19),” the note says.
A spokesman for Mr Perrottet said there would “not be an insurance scheme or business in the world that is not experiencing impacts of COVID-19”.
“Consistent with the NSW Government approach to defer over $5 billion in fees, taxes and charges on business, the Treasurer has already directed icare not to raise premiums due to the impact of COVID-19,” the spokesman said.
“Icare has also reduced premiums for businesses that have had to reduce their payroll and have received cancellations from businesses that have closed.
“Additionally, legislation approved by Parliament in May provides further protections for workers who may contract COVID-19 while at work, by creating a presumption in their favour.
“All these measures will deteriorate our fiscal position, but at this stage the needs of the economy far outweigh the needs of the budget.”
The briefing note says icare and Treasury have urged Mr Perrottet to consider “legislative and regulatory change” to deal with rising medical costs for injured workers in NSW.
Icare has warned that the “gazetted fees paid to surgeons for NSW Workers Compensation claims are up to four times those of the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS), making them the most expensive in the country”.
The Opposition’s finance spokesman Daniel Mookhey said the scheme’s projected loss was “eye-watering”.
“How can the Treasurer defend an $850 million loss and justify a multi-billion dollar taxpayer funded bailout but protect the board and pay icare’s executives their bonuses,” Mr Mookhey said.
“The Treasurer must not force employers or sick and injured workers to pay for his agency’s multi-billion dollar mistakes.”
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Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Queensland governing administration will supply $150 million in loans to the state’s university sector, which has endured in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Countless numbers of persons right throughout regional Queensland count on universities for a task,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Sunday.
“This package will aid to hold all our universities open, safeguarding these positions.”
Universities will be able to implement for financial loans with five-calendar year compensation terms to support dollars stream, retain employees and retain exploration assignments.
Queensland universities, and universities throughout the region, have dropped profits for the duration of the pandemic soon after Australia’s borders were being shut, limiting the movement of global learners.
The Queensland university sector has reported it will drop much more than $1 billion this 12 months, putting 4000 work at hazard.
Until finally the pandemic strike, the worldwide university student current market in the state was well worth $3 billion a yr.
Individuals in Australia must continue to be at the very least 1.5 metres absent from other people. Look at your state’s limitations on accumulating restrictions.
If you are encountering cold or flu signs or symptoms, keep dwelling and set up a exam by contacting your doctor or speak to the Coronavirus Health and fitness Facts Hotline on 1800 020 080. Information and facts is offered in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus
But Victoria’s approach to public sector pay is sharply at odds with that of the NSW Liberal government which is battling in the Fair Work Commission to impose a freeze on the wages of its entire 250,000-strong public sector.
Western Australia’s Labor government moved last year, long before the COVID-19 crisis hit, to impose a $1000 cap on annual pay rises for its public servants.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says the government’s pay deals are in line with its bargaining policies disallowing pay rises above 2 per cent without productivity or other concessions from the workforce.
The Treasurer also says the deals with police, paramedics, nurses and public servants are all fully funded and paid from the existing budgets of the departments or agencies employing the workers.
But the major credit rating agencies, S&P and Moodys, which both have Victoria on the highest possible AAA credit rating, expressed concern on Wednesday.
Credit ratings are important to governments because they determine the rates at which treasuries can borrow money on the international bond markets, with a strong rating allowing cheaper debt.
S&P Global Rating analyst Rebecca Hrvatin said: “Victoria’s wage policies are more relaxed than most domestic peers and have allowed employee expenses to rise rapidly.”
“Total employee expenses are about 29 per cent higher than just four years ago,” Ms Hrvatin said.
“We believe public sector employee expenses are inflexible during periods of financial stress, and adding further downward pressure to the state’s AAA rating.”
John Manning, vice president of Moody’s Investors Service, said he believed that rising public sector wage costs would make it harder to repair the state’s post-COVID finances.
“It will just add additional challenges as far as bringing back that fiscal consolidation,” Mr Manning said.
“It’s a challenging environment and we expect not only revenue pressures but also expenditure pressures as a result of the disruption we’re already facing,”
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday that his government’s economic management could be judged when it brings down its budget in October.
“We’ll deliver a budget at the end of the year and the accounts of the state will be there, clearly understood by everybody at that point,” the Premier said.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien called the pay rises “tone deaf” as Victorian businesses suffer financial hardship and job losses due to the pandemic.
“It’s a bit tone deaf of the Premier to be giving big pay rises to public sector unions when so many other Victorians are doing it tough,” Mr O’Brien said.
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Noel Towell is State Political Editor for The Age
Michael is a state political reporter for The Age.
Sharp spikes in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, and to a much lesser extent daily deaths, have prompted at least 28 states and New York City to roll back or put the breaks on their reopening efforts, a Breitbart News assessment found on Wednesday.
Some of those states reimposed lockdown measures. The rules, some new, came as daily cases reportedly reached the second-highest single-day countrywide count on Wednesday (65,106), driven by infections in the latest hotspots located in the southern and western parts of the U.S.
Although Massachusetts has been moving forward with its phased reopening plans since May, it does not plan to fully reopen (move to its final phase) until the “development of [coronavirus] vaccines and/or treatments enable resumption of ‘new normal,’” the state’s guidelines revealed.
Breitbart News gleaned the 28 states that have paused or rolled back their reopening timelines along with NYC from Fox News, USA Today, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, among other outlets.
The states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Among those states is California, the first to impose a stay-at-home order, and others, like Florida and Texas, that reopened reasonably early compared to other areas.
The first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. has shifted geographically, moving from the Northeast and Midwest (New York, Chicago) regions impacted at the beginning to the South (Texas, Florida) and West (California).
However, unlike the beginning of the outbreak early this year, the current surge in the South and West appears significantly less lethal. There is a lag of about three weeks or more between infection detection and deaths, so the numbers could spike soon, reflecting the surge in cases that began around June 15.
The seven-day average of the deaths reported each day across the U.S. has been creeping up in recent days, but it remains well below the peak level of 2,740 on May 7, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Health analysts rely on seven-day rolling averages of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to provide a clearer picture of the pandemic because the figures fluctuate daily.
The seven-day average of new cases in at least 46 states, including the vast majority of those that have paused or rolled back their reopening schedules, is higher than their average during the past two weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Based on the seven-day rolling average, at least one (Maine) of the states that changed their mind about reopening was facing a decrease in cases, the New York Times noted on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the new cases in a handful of the states that reversed their reopening timeline were mostly the same as Wednesday, the Times added.
The seven-day average of daily deaths reported across the country is beginning to increase, driven by significant rises in the number of fatalities in the new hotspots — California (7,302 cumulative deaths), Florida (4,521), Texas (3,573), and Arizona (2,434), Worldometer revealed.
Daily fatalities in those four states have reached peak levels in recent days, most recently Texas (at least 110 on Wednesday) and Florida (at least 133 on Tuesday), the COVID Tracking Project reported.
Although California (352,068 cases; 7,302 deaths), Florida (301,810; 4,521), and Texas (295,279; 3,573), are the top three most populated states, respectively, followed by New York, the Empire State has more cases (430,236) and fatalities (32,493) than each of the three.
New York, once the epicenter of the outbreak, has more infections and deaths than California, Florida, and Texas, each, despite the latter three states being the hardest-hit by the coronavirus at the moment and each having a larger population than the Empire State.
The new surge has primarily spared New York.
Some public health officials, including Dr. Deborah Birx from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, have blamed the spike in cases on decisions by southern states to reopen too early and too aggressively in a bid to revive their ailing economies.