Good morning, this is James Murray bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 7 April.
The UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been moved into intensive care after spending a night in hospital due to persistent Covid-19 symptoms. “Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital,” said a Downing Street spokesperson. While Johnson is not known to have any underlying health conditions, he has been open about his struggle with obesity – a known risk factor for coronavirus. Dan Sabbagh and Rowena Mason write about the UK government’s repeated denials that Johnson’s condition was deteriorating. In the strange lead-up to Johnson’s admission to ICU, rumours flew around Westminster as aides were emphatic that his symptoms were not serious. Follow the latest developments live.
A Guardian Essential poll released this morning shows Scott Morrison’s approval has been boosted by his management of the Covid-19 response. With the government deploying interventionist measures that would usually be the antithesis of the Liberals’ political approach, it seems that Morrison has also picked up the support of Labor and Green voters. But as Essential executive director Peter Lewis writes, Morrison may have “changed tack against his tribal instincts”, and political support in a crisis is ephemeral.
Coronavirus testing in some Aboriginal communities in Victoria has had to stop because of a lack of personal protective equipment. Some clinics have just two weeks of PPE left with no immediate prospect of re-supply, creating a situation they described as “catastrophic”. The deputy chief medical officer Prof Paul Kelly has warned that some of the people in intensive care units across Australia are in their 30s with no underlying health issues. “This is not just an old person’s disease,” he said. Meanwhile, Prof Mikhail Prokopenko, a pandemic modelling expert, says Australian cases could drop to zero by July – but only if the country can record 90% compliance with social distancing rules. Australia’s death toll is now 41.
There was good news in Italy, as the country recorded its lowest daily rise in infections – 1,941 – the lowest day-to-day rise registered since 30 March. For the third day in a row, there was a decrease in the number of intensive care beds in use. Falling numbers in Europe may offer some hope to the US, which is about to enter the “peak of a terrible pandemic”. With the country’s death toll now over 10,000, New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned that his state may also be reaching an apex. “If we are plateauing, we are plateauing at a very high level. Staying at this level is problematic,” he said. New York has now confirmed 130,869 cases of coronavirus and recorded 4,758 deaths.
Four Qantas crew members who operated a repatriation flight from Chile have tested positive for the coronavirus. Unlike their passengers, who were put into isolation in city hotels, the crew members did not go into quarantine due to a special exemption.
Labor says it will protest the parliament shutdown and push for a review of the government’s Covid-19 response. The attorney general, Christian Porter, on Monday bluntly told the opposition that MPs had “better things to do” than sit in parliament.
The third bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in five years is the most widespread ever. The government’s top reef scientist says it’s a clear signal the marine wonder is “calling for urgent help”.
Corporate watchdog Asic has launched legal action against high-profile investment fund behind the redevelopment of Queensland’s Dunk Island resort. The watchdog accuses the fund of misleading and deceptive advertising by saying its products could be compared to bank term deposits.
Honor Blackman, the actor best known for playing the Bond girl Pussy Galore, has died aged 94. Blackman, who who also played Cathy Gale in The Avengers, died of natural causes unrelated to coronavirus.
US officials have stopped nearly three million specialised masks from being exported to Canada. Donald Trump on Friday invoked the 1950 Defense Production Act to stop 3M exporting N95 respirators to Canada and Latin America.
The United States has branded a Russian far-right group as a foreign terrorist organisation. This is the first time it has targeted white supremacists with tools regularly used against jihadist groups.
When it comes to recommending medication for Covid-19, Donald Trump can’t seem to help himself. The US president has touted several drugs as being potential cures, most famously the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, of which he said “I sure as hell think we ought to give it a try.” Oliver Milman looks into the drug and explains why we shouldn’t believe the hype. With so much misinformation about Covid-19 circulating online, we’ve fact-checked some of the more common fallacies. Josh Taylor busts the most common coronavirus myths. And Danielle Renwick looks into whether it is still safe to have sex during the lockdown. She asks three experts five of the most pressing questions about intimacy during the pandemic.
Bridie Jabour interviews Australian journalist Julia Baird about her new book Phosphorescence and finds that despite it being written before the pandemic, it could not have been more prescient. After surviving cancer and a brutal heartbreak, Baird wanted to find out how people find strength through despair.
And if you need something to cut through the sadness, Ben Williams asks standup comedians to nominate their favourite routines. The comics pick the shows that make them howl with laughter, from Eddie Murphy on Rocky to Eddie Izzard on penknives and Michelle Wolf on women’s worst enemies.
The Guardian Australia Full Story podcast looks at the devastating impact of Covid-19 on New York. With more than 4,000 deaths and 120,000 cases across the state, New York has now overtaken Wuhan in terms of Covid-19 patients. In this episode, Guardian US reporter Jessica Glenza tells Mythili Rao about the seismic impact the virus is having on medical facilities and its staff, some of whom have said their hospitals are like war zones.
Full Story is Guardian Australia’s news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.
Premier League football team Liverpool has reversed its decision to furlough many of its staff members. The financially successful club received fierce criticism for seeking government assistance during the coronavirus crisis.
Sports writer Adam Collins envisages a future for AFL that includes a return to legendary suburban grounds. Playing at a former cathedral like Princes Park would restore the sense that footy belongs to the suburbs as well as the city, he writes.
The major news websites all lead with news that the UK prime minister is now in intensive care. The Sydney Morning Herald uses its live blog to explain that Johnson requires oxygen but is still conscious. ABC News reports that the government expects to release pandemic modelling today that will show the effects of lockdown policies in controlling the spread of the virus in Australia. The Age reports on a deal between unions and the government, that paves the way for Morrison’s $130bn jobkeeper wage subsidy. Unions have been given an assurance they can challenge employers who do not abide by the spirit of the scheme.
National cabinet meets at 10am.
The high court will hand down its decision in George Pell’s application for special leave to appeal.
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