Australia's virus cases continue to drop. Picture: Emma Murray
Australia's virus cases continue to drop. Picture: Emma Murray

State’s most infectious cluster worsens


Victoria continues to record cases of coronavirus linked to an abattoir. 

Three out of Victoria's four new cases confirmed on Thursday were linked to the Melbourne meatworks.

Australia has around 650 active cases of coronavirus, with 45 still in hospital.

MORE: Follow the latest virus news here

Australia has recorded more than 7080 cases of COVID-19 so far with 100 deaths. Cases include 3084 in New South Wales, 1581 in Victoria, 1058 in Queensland, 439 in South Australia, 557 in Western Australia, 226 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 30 in the Northern Territory.

New travel bubble proposed by the ACT

Canberra Airport chief executive Stephen Byron is floating the idea of another travel bubble as the ACT edges closer to three weeks without a virus case.

Before the coronavirus lockdown, more than 120 flights were going in and out of the airport however that number has since dropped to two or three a day.

"There are so many jobs at stake. There are jobs at the airport, but right through the industry, tourism industry, the accommodation industry and everything. We are a COVID-free place," Mr Byron told ABC News Breakfast.

"Canberra has not had any COVID for 17 days. And Queensland and South Australian premiers don't want to open up to places where there is COVID. We are saying that we are free of it right now.

"It is a good first incremental step to start flights to Canberra now between Adelaide and also Brisbane to Canberra."

Mr Byron hopes Canberrans, Queenslanders and South Australians could travel without the two-week quarantine period.

But the airport executive is yet to hear anything from the two.

"The thing with aviation is a date needs to be set for two weeks' time or so that people can make bookings on flights and the airlines can schedule flights," he said.

"It's not like just ramping up a cafe and turning up and changing from takeaway to dine-in again within 24 hours. The aviation industry needs a very clear timetable with firm dates.

"We need to know that we can restart these flights in a matter of weeks. Ideally by 8 June. And certainly be well and truly up and running for the school holidays on 1 July."

Mr Byron said if state and territories kept their borders shut, Aussies might be looking at a New Zealand holiday first.

"The aviation industry has never been shut down in this way ever. And so we're starting at zero. We have got to get back to 20 per cent and then ideally 50 per cent during July with flights during the school holidays," he said.

"If the state premiers hold the line, then I think what you'll see is that the trans-Tasman bubble with flights from the eastern seaboard through to New Zealand opening up from about 1 July. That too needs to be a target so that we can get more activity in the tourism industry, more jobs and more businesses reopening."

'Argy-bargy' with states over border closures

Deputy PM Michael McCormack has admitted the final say in reopening borders sits with state and territory leaders - but said the federal government will continue its "argy-bargy" to get the country open again.

"Of course there's always been that competitive federalism, that, you know, we've always had the argy-bargy between the states. We'll work through it," he told ABC News Breakfast.

"But what we've done very successfully so far is keep the case rates and keep the mortality rates very low. We are the envy of the world in that regard.

"Look, I appreciate that states will have their different reasons for their different restrictions. That's understandable. But if we do want a domestic airline to continue and to resume very quickly, then one way of doing it is to ease those border restrictions.

"I understand that trucks are getting through, so that's important. And I appreciate the efforts that the premiers and the state transport ministers have gone to in that regard. But, look, I'm sure that the states will take on board the best medical advice and make the decisions right for them."

Final South Australian leaves hospital

A father of two who was the first COVID-19 patient to be admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital intensive care unit became the last to walk out after being put into an induced coma and spending four weeks on a ventilator.

Paul Faraguna, 68, travelled on the Ruby Princess cruise ship with his wife, Robyn, and two friends in March.

Ms Faraguna, 64, was also diagnosed with the coronavirus however she has made a full recovery.

The infection left her husband in the fight of his life.

"He was so ill he was in the ICU in an induced coma and on a ventilator for four weeks," SA Health said on Thursday.

"He's still recovering and now receiving care closer to home at Modbury Hospital."

More on the story here

Hanson going ahead with High Court threat over border closures

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has doubled down on the threat of her High Court challenge over Queensland's border closures.

Appearing on Today this morning, Ms Hanson accused Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of running a "dictatorship".

Senator Hanson said she hoped the High Court challenge would be up by September and she had already been contacted by three legal firms.

"When the Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young was interviewed she couldn't give a guarantee that the borders will be open before September," she said.

"I'm sure the High Court will be up by then. Does the premier really want to go to the High Court with this? I don't believe so. I'm hoping to put pressure on her.

"The borders being closed are affecting trade and commerce and tourism at this time of the year and she is under pressure.

"This is not leadership this is a dictatorship. There is no clear reason to keep the borders shut."

Senator Hanson also disagreed with polls that showed the premier had strong support for border closures.

"People who are voting in these polls I believe there would be a lot of self- interest," she said.

"There would be people who are sitting on JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments probably getting more money now than what they ever did before and have no interest in going back to work.

"They like the lifestyle they are getting. I tell those people keep going because one day the cow will be dry, there will be no more milk in it.

"Those businesses are going and their closing doors won't reopen.

"You won't have the opportunity of gaining a job. Therefore the Government won't have the money to keep paying you."

Workplaces' second-wave risk exposed

Workplaces across Australia are simply not ready to return staff to the COVID-19 frontline and are risking a second wave of infections.

A shocking new poll of workers across Australia commissioned has found just one in 10 workplaces has increased basic preventive measures including purchasing hand sanitiser supplies.

Only 4 per cent of those still attending the workplace said there was additional cleaning or disinfection occurring at work.

Chinese law firm's 'flabbergasting' demands

A popular Australian resort operator has been accused of breaking a $2 million a year sublease for refusing to stay open amid the country's lockdown.

Lizard Island's primary leaseholder, Chinese company SEA Holdings group, has sent a legal letter insisting the Great Barrier Reef resort should have remained open, reports The Australian.

The operator, Delaware North, has been told by the company it is in breach of contract and could potentially lose its sublease if the resort does not reopen.

Steve Wilson, who has a separate sublease to build a $20 million residence that will be managed by the resort, told the newspaper the demand was "flabbergasting".

With restrictions still in place and Queensland and international borders closed, reopening would be impossible.

Victoria's biggest cluster

An abattoir outbreak of 106 people remains Victoria's bigger focus of COVID-19 infection after three new cases were linked to the cluster.

Three out of Victoria's four new cases confirmed on Thursday were linked to the Melbourne meatworks.

The state's coronavirus tally has increased by just one to 1581 after another three cases were reclassified - one moved to another state and another two dropped because of duplication.

There are now 86 active cases in Victoria - down from 97 on Wednesday.

Of those 10 people are hospitalised, including five in intensive care.

The Cedar Meats cluster in Brooklyn has become Victoria's biggest cluster at 106.

The second biggest cluster in the state was of 75 people, a study from the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the state health department revealed.

Victoria had 76 distinct genetic COVID-19 clusters by April 14.

The median size of the cluster was five people.

Researchers made the finding through genetic analysis of samples from 903 coronavirus patients, which was about 75 per cent of the state's 1333 cases at the time.

Of the cases sampled, the majority (737) of people were part of a genomic cluster, with social venues, healthcare facilities and cruise ships among the sites where clusters were linked.


Originally published as State's most infectious cluster worsens

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Dream of a blissful new life has quickly turned into a nightmare

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Thousands of Melbourne public housing residents have been provided with "detention...

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

This man miraculously survived the 9/11 terror attacks