We’re going to wrap up the blog here for today. Here are the key moments from today:
- The fallout from the Ruby Princess saga continues with the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard defending health officials who allowed passengers to disembark. The NSW opposition called for Hazzard to stand down.
- The number of Covid-19 cases in Australia surpassed 5,500 and now sits at 5,544. There have been 30 deaths, including a woman in her 70s in Victoria on Friday and a man in his 80s in Canberra on Saturday.
- NSW police conducted the largest operation in Sydney Harbour outside of wartime to move crew and supplies between a series of stranded cruise ships before they depart Australian waters.
- The federal government announced changes for temporary visa holders help support those who may be stood down or lose work hours as a result of Covid-19. In line with changes being made for Australian citizens and permanent residents, most temporary visa holders with work rights will now be able to access their Australian superannuation to help support themselves during this crisis.
- International students working in essential industries such as aged care, nursing and supermarkets have had the number of hours they are permitted to work per fortnight extended.
- NSW Health said 110 returned travellers in quarantine in Sydney hotels have been tested for coronavirus after experiencing symptoms. Their test results were expected today.
- The deputy chief health officer, Paul Kelly, advised the wider public against wearing face masks, in part due to supply constraints.
Thank you, as always, for following along with us today. We’ll be back to bring you the latest developments tomorrow. In the meantime, stay well and safe.
From AAP: Five cruise ships docked in Sydney harbour will be sent out to sea as the NSW government deals with the ugly fallout of the Ruby Princess affair.
NSW Police on Saturday helped reprovision two ships, the Spectrum of the Seas and the Radiance of the Seas, before they departed for their home ports.
The ships were allowed to dock in Sydney Harbour during the past 24 hours, with 600 foreign national crew members moved between the two before fuel, food and medical supplies were loaded on board.
NSW Police said that they both departed on Saturday afternoon as part of “Operation Nemesis”.
A third ship, the Celebrity Solstice, entered the harbour on Saturday afternoon with another two – Voyager of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas – to follow.
Read more here.
12 more infringement notices in NSW
NSW Police have given an update on their enforcement of social distancing laws. 12 penalty notices were issued on Friday. They include:
- Four men at a Wagga home where they were not residents. Police were called to the home after reports of a disturbance. While at the home, officers found and seized methamphetamine and cannabis. Inquiries are continuing, with charges expected, police say.
- A group of men sitting on a park bench that was fenced off by council tape. Police say one man was given an infringement notice after he did not move along when asked.
- A 37-year-old man and his 35-year-old female passenger were stopped by Bankstown Police on Bransgrove Road, Revesby. The man submitted to a roadside drug test which proved positive. Police searched the car and located a knife as well as four envelopes in the names of other people. The man was arrested and taken to Bankstown Police Station where he was charged with custody of a knife in a public place, and goods in custody. Police said the pair were also given infringement notices for not having a legitimate reason for being in public.
Have you encountered police enforcing Australia’s social distancing laws? Guardian Australia would like to hear about your experience.
You can get in touch, anonymously if you wish, via a form here.
110 people in quarantine in Sydney hotels tested for coronavirus
NSW Health has released its daily Covid-19 update. Here are the key points:
- 104 new cases were diagnosed between 8pm Thursday and 8pm Friday.
- 251 patients are being treated in hospitals, including 41 in intensive care, 23 of whom require ventilators.
- 110 people currently in quarantine in Sydney hotels are being tested for Covid-19 after reporting symptoms. Tests have been done, with the results expected today (so we can expect to hear more about this by Sunday). NSW Health is alerting passengers who were close contacts on flights to monitor for symptoms.
- There is a second positive case at TAFE Ultimo that is unrelated to the first case. Contact tracing is underway. Parts of the TAFE remain open.
- A student at Bankstown Senior College has tested positive for Covid-19. Investigations are ongoing to trace close contacts.
- At the Rose of Sharon childcare centre in Blacktown there are now seven confirmed cases in staff, six confirmed cases in children, and 12 secondary cases (11 household contacts and one friend). The centre is closed.
- St Mary’s Senior High School has one confirmed case, a student. The school is closed and investigations are ongoing.
- Gloucester Primary School has one confirmed case in a staff member. The school remains open as it has been over two weeks since staff member’s last attendance.
Ben Smee has written an updated piece on the Ruby Princess fallout.
The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, has defended the role of health experts who allowed 2,700 passengers to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship and make their own way home, following reports that authorities knew about the widespread respiratory sickness on board.
The NSW opposition has called for Hazzard to stand down, with the Labor leader, Jodi McKay, describing the incident as one of the most significant health failures in the state’s history.
The speed and volume of Covid-19 news has made it difficult to keep up with stories happening elsewhere.
We’ve started a new section ICYMI to help you catch up. Naaman Zhou has rounded up some of the big non-coronavirus stories of the past week:
One of the messages coming through strongly at these press conferences today is governments are reminding people who are not frontline workers to stay home over Easter.
“We want to make sure that people get the message that this Easter, stay-at-home. Don’t travel, and certainly don’t travel unnecessarily,” Cook says.
Cook speaks about the Artania: “While the cruise ship remains in WA waters, the ship is under the control of the commonwealth,” he says.
“The WA Department of Health maintains a watching brief at this stage and we continue to liaise with the commonwealth to assist them with any patients or any passengers or crew that need hospitalisation.”
He says the ship is in lockdown for an isolation period of 14 days and the remaining crew on board are isolated to their cabins.
“Obviously they have been on the boat now for quite a while, and we want to just simply have them quarantined to their quarters, isolating from each other, and they will undertake a period of self-isolation until we can be satisfied that there is no further potential outbreaks on board the ship,” Cook says.
“At that stage, we would like to see the ship move away from Australian waters, but that is under the control of the commonwealth.”
Cook says one of the new cases was in the Kimberley region. He says three medical teams have been deployed to the region, which is subject to tough travel restrictions. They will work with frontline staff already there.
Western Australia has 14 new cases with five related to Artania cruise
Roger Cook, Western Australia’s health minister, is now speaking.
He says there were 14 new cases of Covid-19 overnight, nine of which are Western Australian and the remaining five are related to the Artania cruise ship.
The patients are aged between 26 and 84.
Kelly is asked a question about why they are not recommending mask use for the broader public. He says one reason is the supply constraints.
He says the other is that “using a mask incorrectly can actually make it more dangerous”.
“If you are not used to wearing a mask, it can become quite uncomfortable, even claustrophobic,” he says.
“And indeed, it can become quite itchy underneath the mask. So touching a surface with the virus, scratching yourself underneath the mask, can in fact increase your risk rather than decrease your risk.”
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