Australian Minister Dutton joins list of prominent people with Covid-19

Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton has been hospitalised with Covid-19, joining a growing list of prominent people confirmed to have the coronavirus.

Dutton was recently in Washington where New Zealand minister Tracey Martin sat beside him for 90 minutes but that is thought to be long enough go to be safe for her.

Despite this I think it would be prudent of Martin to avoid any chance of spreading the virus through the New Zealand Government and Parliament (unless it’s too late).

Ivanka Trump also met with Dutton.

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has tested positive for Covid-19, with both her and her Prime Minister husband going into isolation for 14 days. There are now 160 presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada – but the number of prominent people catching the virus makes me wonder whether confirmed cases are the tip of the virus iceberg.

CBC: No need for Trudeau to be tested, despite wife’s COVID-19 diagnosis, experts say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t need to be tested for COVID-19 — even though his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, was diagnosed with the disease — if he isn’t showing any symptoms, experts say.

“Certainly for people asymptomatic, we do not recommend testing,” said Colin Lee, a specialist in public health and infectious disease. “But I could certainly see that people in position of power may want testing. And that might happen. But it’s certainly not the medical and public health recommendation.”

Seems odd not to take the precaution – and to test whether people without symptoms could be carrying the virus. At least PM Trudeau is taking precautions by going into isolation.

Al Jazeera: Bolsonaro aide who met Trump tests positive for coronavirus

A Brazilian government official who attended an official meeting at Donald Trump’s resort in Florida on Saturday and posted a photo of himself standing next to the United States president has tested positive for coronavirus, Brazilian officials said on Thursday.

In the photo posted on his Instagram account, Fabio Wajngarten, the communication secretary of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, is standing next to Trump wearing a “Make Brazil great again” cap. Vice President Mike Pence was next to Trump.

“Let’s put it this way: I’m not concerned,” Trump told reporters while meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office.

He said he had heard about the aide’s exposure but that “we did nothing very unusual”.

Trump may not have the virus, but this shows how easily it could spread around world leaders. The US hasn’t closed their borders to Brazil.

I expect health experts will be looking at where these people caught the virus from, and how it is being spread.

Hello Magazine: Celebrities affected by coronavirus: from Tom Hanks to Robbie Williams

Hollywood couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson shared the news on Thursday that they had both tested positive for coronavirus. Taking to Instagram, Tom shared a photo of himself and Rita together in Australia, where they are currently in self-isolation, writing: “Hello folks. @ritawilson and I want to thank everyone here Down Under who are taking such good care of us. We have COVID-19 and are in isolation so we do not spread it to anyone else.”

Robbie Williams is also in Australia at the moment, where he was due to perform a one-off show. However, the Angels singer has been forced to cancel his gig after the Australian government announced that all gatherings of more than 500 people should not go ahead.

Production of hit Netflix show Riverdale has shut down after a member of the team was exposed to COVID-19. The decision was made after a crew member came into contact with someone who had tested positive for co

On Friday, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand remained at five. It seems inevitable this number will increase.

Many events have been affected. The New Zealand versus Australia one day cricket match in Sydney last night was played in an empty stadium. The Highlanders rugby team will be playing in an empty stadium in Buenos Aires. The Pasfika event scheduled for Auckland this weekend was cancelled.

Surprisingly the mosque attack anniversary event scheduled for Christchurch seems to be still going ahead, but scaled down:

This may change before tomorrow.

The cancellation list is growing around the world. RNZ – Covid-19: Cancelled, crowdless and closed

Cancelled/postponed in New Zealand

  • Auckland’s Pasifika Festival has been cancelled amid concerns about the risk of the virus being transmitted to the Pacific Islands by festival attendees
  • One of the biggest surf events seen in New Zealand, the Corona Piha Pro, has been postponed, with The World Surf League deciding to postpone all events in March.
  • Two rock bands have postponed concerts in Auckland – Deftones were set to perform at Trusts Arena on Sunday and My Chemical Romance at Western Springs later this month.

Cancelled/postponed/closed around the world

These include:

  • The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled after a McLaren Racing Team has tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Basketball and hockey fans in North America will miss out on games, with both the NBA and the NHL suspending their seasons.
  • The US PGA Tour has cancelled The Players Championship and all tour events for the next few weeks.
  • The massive E3 video game conference in Los Angeles has been canned, and American music festival South by Southwest has also been cancelled. The Coachella Festival, due to be held next month, has been put off until October.
  • There will be no Broadway shows in New York for the rest of the month, while Disney has closed its Disneyland and Disneyworld theme parks in California and Florida, as well as several others around the globe.
  • The ATP has suspended its professional men’s tennis tour for six weeks, and the world figure skating championships have been cancelled.
  • Several blockbuster movies have had their release dates pushed back as filmgoers stay away from the cinema, including the latest Fast and Furious instalment – pushed back by 11 months – and new James Bond movie No Time To Die, which has been delayed until November.
  • The Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are closed until end of March, while New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is temporarily closing all three of its locations in the city. All Smithsonian museums in Washington DC and New York City will close from Saturday.
  • Qatar has announced the closure of all cinemas, theatres, gyms, play areas and museums.

Still going ahead (so far)

  • The WOMAD music festival is going ahead at Brooklands Park in New Plymouth this weekend, although organisers are asking people who feel unwell to stay home as part of their plans to mitigate the effects of the virus.
  • The St Patrick’s Parade on Queen Street in central Auckland is set to start at midday tomorrow, while the Irish Music and Dance Festival will be held outside Auckland Town Hall, from 12:30pm – 3:30pm.
  • Despite organisers admitting a delay of one or two years would be the “most feasible” option if the Tokyo Olympics can’t be held this year, the games are still set to take place.
  • Commemorations to make the 15 March mosque terror attacks are still set to take place in Christchurch on Sunday.
  • While Pasifika has been cancelled, the Auckland secondary schools’ dance festival Polyfest starts next week, running from from Wednesday to Saturday.

The situation is changing daily, with increasing numbers of cancellations and restrictions.

Back to the beginning First Covid-19 case happened in November, China government records show

The first case of someone suffering from Covid-19 can be traced back to 17 November, according to media reports on unpublished Chinese government data.

The report, in the South China Morning Post, said Chinese authorities had identified at least 266 people who contracted the virus last year and who came under medical surveillance, and the earliest case was 17 November – weeks before authorities announced the emergence of the new virus.

The data obtained by the Post, which the Guardian has not been able to verify, said a 55-year-old from Hubei province could have been the first person to contract Covid-19. For about one month after that date there were one to five new cases reported each day, the report said, and by 20 December there were 60 confirmed cases.


RNZ – Covid-19: how to protect yourself and others:

The Ministry of Health says the WHO pandemic declaration does not change anything for New Zealand which is already following a pandemic plan. The ministry’s key message is to stay home if you are ill.

“The most fundamental thing that every New Zealand citizen and other person in this country can do is to make sure that if they are unwell they do not go out and they do not put others at risk, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said on 12 March.

Doctors and the ministry are telling people who have symptoms not to just turn up at the GP or hospital emergency department, but to phone ahead or ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453).

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Covid-19:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature (at least 38°C)
  • shortness of breath.
  • tiredness

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing are a sign of possible pneumonia and require immediate medical attention.

Other symptoms may also be present:

  • Aches and pains
  • Nasal congestion and/or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhoea

Having symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have Covid-19 as some are similar to a cold or flu. It’s not certain how long symptoms take to appear after a person has been infected, but WHO assessments suggest it is 2-10 days.

The World Health Organisation’s reports have shown 80 percent of those infected only a mild illness, 14 percent experience more severe disease, and 5 percent become critically ill.

How is coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus can spread from person to person, by personal contact when droplets from someone who is infected coughs and sneezes.

Droplets containing the virus also settle on surrounding surfaces. Studies suggest they may survive on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days, the WHO says. You can catch the disease by contact with a surface that has the viral particles on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

WHO expert Dr Bruce Aylward said 10 percent of people who come in contact with an infected person contract the virus. An early WHO report analysing about 50,000 cases from China suggested the virus was unlikely to spread from people who are not showing symptoms.

How to avoid catching and spreading Covid-19

Good hygiene, regularly washing and thoroughly drying your hands, and other simple steps can help stop the spread, the Ministry of Health says.

To reduce your chance of being infected or spreading the virus:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.
  • Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds).
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Stay at least 1 metre away from someone who is coughing or sneezing,
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Avoid personal contact, such as kissing, sharing cups or food with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

– Sources: MoH and WHO

What to do if you may have been exposed

People have been advised NOT to turn up to a doctor’s office or hospital if they are showing symptoms, but to instead call Healthline 0800 358 5453 (or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453).

If you may have been exposed to Covid-19 you should isolate yourself for 14 days.

If you have returned from countries subject to New Zealand travel restrictions you should to isolate yourself for 14 days. Read more from the Ministry of Health on which countries have restrictions and what type of restrictions they are.

 

Out with the not very old Aussie PM, in with the new

Our relatively) close neighbours the Aussies have a new Prime Minister that most Kiwis are unlikely to have heard of (Scott Morrison, after two leadership votes in a week. The deposing of Malcolm Turnbull adds to the procession of Australian Prime Ministers who have failed to see out a term in office, earning Canberra the label of “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

Guardian: Australia’s new PM is Scott Morrison as moderate Malcolm Turnbull is forced out

Australia has a new prime minister in Scott Morrison – the socially conservative architect of Australia’s hardline anti-asylum seeker policies – after he mounted a late challenge during a drawn-out struggle for power in the governing Liberal party.

On Friday, incumbent Malcolm Turnbull failed in his attempt to stare down a challenge from hard right MP Peter Dutton, with insurgents in his party gathering enough signatures to call for a “spill” – or leadership contest.

There appears no end in sight to the civil war consuming the ruling Liberal-led coalition government. The country may be headed to an election, with Turnbull saying he will not stay in parliament. His resignation in between general elections would erase the government’s single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Australia has now had five prime ministers in just over five years. Since 2010, four prime ministers have lost office, not at the ballot box, but torn down by their own parties, earning Canberra the unhappy appellation “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

So who is Scott Morrison?

Morrison was treasurer in Turnbull’s administration, and before that, as immigration minister, he was behind Australia’s controversial hardline asylum-seeker policies – including indefinite detention on remote foreign islands.

So that stain on Australia’s reputation may not end before the next election at least.

The son of a policeman and an active member of a Sydney Pentecostal evangelical megachurch, Morrison wears his political ambition and his conservative credentials proudly.

He voted no in Australia’s plebiscite on same-sex marriage, listed “church” as one of his interests in his Who’s Who report, and regards former prime minister John Howard as his political inspiration.

Before his election to parliament in 2007 he was a factional kingpin in the rightwing of the New South Wales Liberal party.

Maybe less right wing than the twice-in-a-week unsuccessful Peter Dutton, but Morrison looks like a move right at a time when they might be heading into an election that may be determined by voters in between the major parties.

Turnbull has sounded some warnings.

In his valedictory speech, Turnbull sounded a warning against the rising tide of populist anti-immigration political rhetoric, promoted from within his own party. “We are the most successful multicultural society in the world, and I have always defended that and advanced that as one of our greatest assets,” he said. “We must never allow the politics of race or division or of setting Australians against each other to become part of our political culture.”

Turnbull also made another thinly veiled swipe at actors “outside the parliament” undermining his leadership – widely interpreted as an attack on the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation newspapers and TV channels, which have consistently campaigned against him.

We are likely to go back to largely ignoring Aussie politics until the next democratic dumping, be it by general election (that mightn’t be far away) or by caucus.

Australian leadership spill looks inevitable, three lining up

A tumultuous day in Australian politics yesterday, with a the second Liberal leadership vote looking likely in a week now. Malcolm Turnbull looks like dead leader stumbling.

News.com.au: Peter Dutton needs just one signature to secure leadership spill

PETER Dutton is only one signature away from securing a leadership spill to oust Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to a Liberal MP.

Mr Dutton’s supporters say he now has more than 40 signatures in his favour in a petition to Mr Turnbull to call a spill that’s been circling Parliament House since last night.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament earlier this evening, Liberal member for McPherson Karen Andrews said she understands only “one more signature is required”.

Ms Andrews, who signed the petition herself, noted that she wasn’t necessarily going to back Mr Dutton.

“But I will not stand by after having Parliament adjourned today to have this matter not concluded tomorrow. I understand that only one more signature is required,” she said.

The former home affairs minister needs 43 signatures for Mr Turnbull to call a party room meeting.

But the Prime Minister has left Parliament House for the day — and it’s understood he hasn’t received a petition.

Mr Turnbull today said he would call a special party room meeting at midday tomorrow if a letter requesting one, signed by a majority of MPs, was presented to him. The embattled leader said he would move a spill motion, and if it was carried, that he wouldn’t stand as a candidate for the top job, and resign both as prime minister and as a member of parliament.

That would leave Turnbull’s replacement leader with a poisoned chalice, probably a hung parliament.

But the controversial Peter Dutton isn’t the only challenger. Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have also indicated they would put themselves forward.

Roy Morgan snap poll:

Liberal Leadership contenders vs. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

  • Julie Bishop (64%) cf. Bill Shorten (36%)
  • Malcolm Turnbull (54%) cf. Bill Shorten (46%)
  • Bill Shorten (50.5%) cf. Scott Morrison (49.5%)
  • Bill Shorten (62%) cf. Peter Dutton (38%)

All ‘can’t say’ and ‘don’t know’ responses have been removed from these results to make them directly comparable.

Analysis by Party – Bishop leads easily amongst L-NP & Ind./Others supporters, Shorten ahead with ALP & Greens supporters

  • L-NP supporters: Bishop 87% cf. Shorten 13%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 74%;
  • ALP supporters: Shorten 59.5% cf. Bishop 40.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 19%;
  • Greens supporters: Shorten 56.5% cf. Bishop 43.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 13%;
  • Ind./Others supporters: Bishop 70.5% cf. Shorten 29.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 41%.

Seems like an easy choice for the Liberals, if they care about the poll results.

I think Dutton would be dire, and Bishop looks a good prospect – but it depends on what sort of support she would get from the Liberal caucus.

And to avoid her being forced into an immediate election it would require a change of mind by Turnbull about quitting.

But perhaps an election would be needed regardless.

Source: Julie Bishop easily preferred to Bill Shorten as PM, virtual dead-heat between Morrison & Shorten while Shorten leads Dutton clearly

More details here.

Australian politics: breaking, breaking, breaking

11:20 am

11:33 am

: Malcolm Turnbull has won back Australia’s leadership after declaring it vacant

11;55 am

: Malcolm Turnbull’s rival Peter Dutton has quit Cabinet after failing to win a challenge for Australia’s leadership

Little Little success in Australia

Andrew Little’s and Phil Goff’s trip to Australia to lobby for New Zealand ex-pats and detainees seems to have had little success. This isn’t surprising.

NZ Herald reports: Australia won’t budge on deportations

Australia won’t budge on deportations and shows little appetite to examine support for Kiwi expats – but Labour senses softer ground among politicians from both major parties.

Labour leader Andrew Little and MP Phil Goff have completed a day of lobbying in Canberra after meeting Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Opposition leader Bill Shorten.

They received little encouragement from Mr Dutton, except for a promise to look at any individual deportation cases raised by Labour.

“There wasn’t a eureka moment where he said, ‘Oh no, I’ve got it all wrong, but it was useful to have the opportunity to put the case and put the arguments,” said Mr Little, who will tomorrow visit Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

The visit of New Zealand’s Opposition leader went largely under the Canberra radar. He entered Parliament in the early morning heat past a pack of local reporters with no question asked, and there was only minor interest from Australian media outlets.

However, Mr Little said that there was a broad acceptance from Liberal and Labor members of two committees he presented to that there was some unfairness in the way the rules were applied.

This may have been a reality check for Little in one of his first dabbles in international lobbying, and Australia will be relatively easy.

Leaders of opposition parties can do little at home so will achieve little abroad except perhaps build relationships and experience.

Why did Little take Goff with him? Goff is off next year if he wins the Auckland mayoralty.

Little may have felt he needed experience alongside him on his Australian foray, but surely Labour should be looking at building expertise for the future.