Students who want to appeal A-level grades may have to take gap year

Students who want to appeal A-level grades predicted for them by their teachers could be forced to take a gap year before taking cancelled exams, watchdog warns

  • Students unhappy with their teacher- awarded grades may have to take gap year
  • Pupils’ grades will be determined ‘by the professionals who know them best’ 
  • Exam boards will adjust grades if schools are too severe or generous with marks
  • Schools have been shut since March 20 and exam season has been cancelled 
  • Grades will be ‘as valid as ever,’ says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson 

Students who want to appeal against ‘carefully considered’ A-Level grades awarded to them by teachers amid the coronavirus pandemic could be forced to take a gap year before taking tests, the exam watchdog has warned. 

Yesterday, teachers were told to submit ‘fair and carefully considered’ GCSE and A-Level grades for their pupils, in lieu of regular exams.

Schools have been shut since March 20 and the exam season has been cancelled, leaving teachers to decide their pupils’ grades based on classwork and previous results.

Pupils unhappy with their given A-Level grades will be able to take their cancelled exams at the start of the next academic year. 

However, Ofqual, the exam regulator, has admitted that there is no guarantee universities will be able to delay courses to accommodate these students. 

This means they may have to take a gap year, taking the exams next summer instead. 

Exams were called off last month after the coronavirus pandemic put Britain into lockdown. Teachers will now decide their pupils’ grades, but marks could be changed if schools are judged to be too harsh or lenient

Education Secretary Gavin Williams previously reassured students that ‘grades award this summer will be as valid this year as any other’

According to the Telegraph, Ofqual said: ‘Students may still choose to take an exam even where their university or college place has been confirmed. 

‘However, it will take time for the results of these exams to be issued, so they will need to discuss with their higher and further education institution whether to start their course as planned or to delay their entry.’ 

The watchdog has asked universities to be ‘flexible’ with admissions, but added: ‘We recognise this might only be possible in a minority of cases’.

Earlier, the regulator warned it will clamp down on over generous marking and inflated grades. 

How will Ofqual assess each school’s grades?

Schools are being asked to grade their pupils based on key areas such as classwork, previous exam results, attainment and performance for lessons such as PE or dance.

Once those exam results are sent off, Ofqual is going to use a standardisation model to test the results’ validity and make sure schools are not being too harsh or generous.

The model is not complete, but factors expected to be included are: 

  •  Expected national outcomes for this year’s students at A-Level and GCSE
  • Prior attainment of students at each school. This would be year-wide rather than individual
  • The results of the school or college in recent years 

Ofqual says it will not change the order schools rank each student, ‘nor will it assume that the distribution of grades in each subject or centre should be the same.’

Schools have been shut since March 20 and the exam season has been cancelled, leaving teachers to decide their pupils’ grades based on classwork and previous results. 

But any grades deemed too severe or generous will be changed, Ofqual warned, setting out early criteria for a model it will use to judge schools’ decisions.

A statement from England’s exams regulator said: ‘If grading judgements in some schools and colleges appear to be more severe or generous than others, exam boards will adjust the grades of some or all of those students upwards or downwards accordingly.’

Most schools have been shut since March 20, three days before the country went into lockdown to try and slow the spread of coronavirus.

With exam season now looming, many teenagers are concerned about what will happen to their GCSE, AS and A Level results. 

Exam boards will be contacting schools and colleges after Easter to ask them to submit their judgments by a deadline no earlier than May 29.  

To decide their grades, teachers must look through previous exam results, classwork and attainment of each pupil. Schools then have to rank each pupils likelihood of achieving their assigned grade. 

Ofqual is working on a standardisation model to assess each school’s grades, which it expects will look at evidence such as expected national outcomes, the prior attainment of students at each school and college, and the results of the school or college in recent years.

Schools must not share these grades with students and parents until final results are issued. It is hoped pupils will receive their grades before the pre-planned results days in August.

Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier said: ‘School or college-based assessment already has an important role in many GCSEs, AS and A-levels, and in extraordinary circumstances such as these schools and colleges are best-placed to judge the likely performance of their students at the end of the course.

Sally Collier, Ofqual’s chief regulator, says students have been reassured that their grades will be fair and that cancelled exams will not put them at a disadvantage while head to sixth form or university

‘We have worked closely with the teaching profession to ensure that what we are asking is both appropriate and manageable, so that everyone can have confidence in the approach.’

Pupils previously took to Twitter under the hashtag #SchoolclosuresUK to share their frustrations, with some afraid that poor relationships with teachers could affect their final mark. 

She added: ‘We have published a message to students to reassure them that we, and exam boards, will do everything we can to make sure that, as far as possible, grades are fair and that they are not disadvantaged in their progress to sixth form, college, university, apprenticeships, training or work because of these unprecedented conditions.’

On Friday, Ofqual said teachers’ judgments on grades should take into account a full range of evidence – including classwork, non-exam assessment, mock exams or previous results.  

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), says grades will be ‘determined by the professionals who know them best’

Students will also have the opportunity to sit exams at the earliest opportunity in the new academic year. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘Cancelling this summer’s exams was a necessary step to help fight the spread of coronavirus by asking people to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

‘Despite the difficult circumstances we are facing, this guidance provides assurance to students, parents and schools that grades awarded this summer will accurately reflect students’ abilities, and will be as valid this year as any other.’

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: ‘Many schools, colleges and their students will have been anxiously awaiting this information and whilst there is not a perfect solution, this is pragmatic and the fairest approach to take in these exceptional circumstances.

‘Of course, this is not a seamless solution. Students will have been expecting to go through a very different process. 

‘However, their grades will now be determined by the professionals who know them best; professionals who are well-equipped to make these judgements, and we hope that gives students confidence that they are in safe hands.

‘Where pupils are not content, appeals are possible and autumn exams are being discussed.’

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PM's adviser warns Britain might still need to adopt herd immunity

PM’s virus adviser warns Britain might still need to adopt herd immunity in its fight against coronavirus as lockdown measures have painted the country ‘into a corner’

  • Professor Graham Medley says the lockdown measures could devastate the UK  
  • He warned controversial herd immunity may be the only solution to the virus 
  • Prof Medley described it as trade-off between harming the young versus the old
  • Initially suggested, herd immunity was ruled out and considered to be too risky 

Boris Johnson’s chief adviser on the coronavirus has warned that Britain might still have to adopt the controversial herd immunity policy to defeat the pandemic.   

Professor Graham Medley, the government’s chief pandemic modeller, said lockdown measures have pushed the UK ‘into a corner’, with no way of lifting restrictions while keeping the virus under control. 

Now, he has suggested that the country consider letting people catch coronavirus to build up resistance.

The alternative, under current lockdown measures, means the UK could be left facing mounting unemployment, domestic violence and mental ill health.

He has described it as a trade-off between harming the young versus the old.

Professor Graham Medley, the government’s chief pandemic modeller, says Britain may still need to adopt herd immunity

Early on as the outbreak began to take hold, it was suggested that one way of beating the virus was by allowing 80 per cent of Britons to get infected to build ‘herd immunity’. 

Herd immunity is when enough people become resistant to a disease – through vaccination or previous exposure – that it can no longer significantly spread among the rest of the population.

However, the plan would have risked leaving the most vulnerable at high risk of death and serious illness and was quickly ruled out by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

But Prof Medley is now warning that the controversial method may be the only solution.  

Under his modelling, simply allowing people back to work or school would cause a resurgence in cases of the virus.

He said an anti-body test, which shows whether a person has had the virus and could therefor be immune, could help, but that one had never before been used in the management of such an outbreak.

Under his modelling, simply allowing people back to work or school after the lockdown would cause a resurgence in cases of the virus

A professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he said: ‘This disease is so nasty that we had to suppress it completely.

‘Then we’ve kind of painted ourselves into a corner, because then the question will be what do we do now?’

He said there was a ‘big decision’ to be made on April 13, when the government reviews the lockdown measures.

‘In broad terms are we going to continue to harm children to protect vulnerable people, or not?’ he said.

Prof Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), added: ‘The measures to control [the disease] cause harm.

‘The principal one is economic, and I don’t mean to the economy generally, I mean to the incomes of people who rely on a continuous stream of money and their children, particularly the school closure aspect.’

He said there will be ‘actual harms’ in terms of mental health, domestic violence, child abuse and food poverty.

Lockdown ‘buys more time’ but ‘doesn’t resolve anything’, he said.

Ministers have reportedly not yet been briefed on work to quantify the health impacts of the lockdown. 

It comes as the UK announced 684 more coronavirus deaths yesterday, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,605.

Yet again the number is a record one-day high – this has been the case almost every day this week, with each day since Tuesday announcing more victims than the last.

The new numbers mean the number of people dead from COVID-19 in the UK has risen five-fold in a week, from just 759 last Friday, March 27.

The numbers behind the UK’s crisis have escalated rapidly over the past seven days and Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said the virus ‘continues its grim march’. He admitted that next week is likely to be worse still, potentially topping out at more than 1,000 deaths per day by Easter Sunday.

Britain is still being hammered by the consequences of huge numbers of people catching the coronavirus before the country went into total lockdown last week. The increases being seen each day are ‘expected’, scientists say.

Experts say it could take another couple of weeks before the benefits of social distancing start to show in NHS statistics – but they insist that the outbreak will taper off and the daily numbers will start to fall.

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

Matt Hancock and the chief nursing officer, Ruth May, said in today’s briefing that people must resist the urge to break isolation and go out this weekend, when sunny weather is expected. Mr Hancock said: ‘We cannot relax our discipline now. If we do, people will die. This advice is not a request – it is an instruction.’

The Government yesterday also penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests to come forward – despite firms who offered help weeks ago saying they still have not heard back about helping tackle Britain’s growing crisis.

In a desperate attempt to get a grip of the testing fiasco and nationwide shortage of protective equipment for NHS staff, the Department for Health and Social Care supplied two forms for British manufacturers to fill out if they could step up to help.

But MailOnline can reveal one firm poised to supply DIY coronavirus antibody tests to Number 10 – kits deemed crucial in ending Britain’s draconian lockdown because they reveal who is immune to the disease – has yet to hear back on how it can get its test approved despite approaching them last month.

Brigette Bard, chief executive of Essex-based firm BioSure – which already makes HIV self-tests, demanded Public Health England offers clarity on what it needs, saying ‘there is nothing more critical at the moment’ than getting antibody tests approved.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, pictured at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in London today, suggested the UK’s lockdown will be in place until the end of April at the earliest

She added in a video that PHE were not looking at her company’s test because it was a self-test – claims which a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson furiously refuted, branding Ms Bard’s words as ‘untrue and misleading’.  

Commercial laboratories and scientists drafted in to help yesterday after a screeching U-turn by ministers also exposed Downing Street’s incompetence today, claiming they had offered two weeks ago to help the Government dramatically scale-up its swab testing capacity but were ignored. 

One man running a fully-equipped lab in Leicester revealed his firm had offered to help the Government but was now testing private clients on its own.

He said: ‘We approached the NHS on March 17 to offer our assistance and said we were happy to use all our capacity for NHS work and we’ve been trying to get a response since then.’ 

Scientists at the University of Oxford, one of the world’s top institutions, said they also had not had their offers of help taken up by British authorities. 

Matthew Freeman, a biologist at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University said in a tweet: ‘We have many people experienced in PCR.

‘We’d love to help and have been trying to volunteer for weeks. Must be many university departments and institutes in similar position.’ 

UK announces 684 more coronavirus victims today: Total death toll reaches 3,605 and more than 38,000 people have now tested positive for the infection as Matt Hancock warns there could be 1,000 deaths per DAY by Easter

The UK has announced 684 more coronavirus deaths today, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,605. 

Yet again the number is a record one-day high – this has been the case almost every day this week, with each day since Tuesday announcing more victims than the last.

Yesterday there were a record 569 new fatalities announced by the Department of Health and today’s statistics show a rise 20 per cent larger.

The new numbers mean the number of people dead from COVID-19 in the UK has risen five-fold in a week, from just 759 last Friday, March 27.

The numbers behind the UK’s crisis have escalated rapidly over the past seven days and Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said the virus ‘continues its grim march’. He admitted that next week is likely to be worse still, potentially topping out at more than 1,000 deaths per day by Easter Sunday. 

Britain is still being hammered by the consequences of huge numbers of people catching the coronavirus before the country went into total lockdown last week. The increases being seen each day are ‘expected’, scientists say.

Experts say it could take another couple of weeks before the benefits of social distancing start to show in NHS statistics – but they insist that the outbreak will taper off and the daily numbers will start to fall.

The UK’s coronavirus outbreak is expected to get worse before it gets better, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said (Pictured: Paramedics working in London)

Matt Hancock and the chief nursing officer, Ruth May, said in today’s briefing that people must resist the urge to break isolation and go out this weekend, when sunny weather is expected. Mr Hancock said: ‘We cannot relax our discipline now. If we do, people will die. This advice is not a request – it is an instruction.’   

And officials maintain that the NHS is coping well with the strain so far and there are now more than 2,000 spare intensive care beds available across the country, as well as ventilators available for patients who need them.  

But the Government is facing a huge backlash over its coronavirus testing policy. Mr Hancock last night pledged to ramp up to carrying out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April after being criticised for the UK currently only managing around 10,000 daily.

He was then forced to admit, however, that this did not include antibody tests, which reveal if someone has already recovered from the illness and are considered vital for ending the UK’s lockdown. He also said that the Government still hasn’t found one it thinks it good enough to use.

And scientists at private research companies and university labs around the country have said they offered to help the Government with analysing swab test results weeks ago but never heard back because Public Health England insisted on doing all the work internally. 

Officials have now opened this up and penned a letter pleading for businesses to get in touch if they are able to make antigen or antibody testing kits or protective equipment. One company told MailOnline it still has not heard from the Government despite offering to produce tests a month ago.

In other developments in the worldwide coronavirus crisis:

  • Two NHS nurses – Areema Nasreen, 36, and Aimee O’Rourke, 39, have died after catching the coronavirus, taking the death toll of frontline health workers to seven;
  • The Government is enrolling COVID-19 patients in three major clinical trials in NHS hospitals to test what types of treatments can be used. One of them already has 926 people involved;
  • Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway’s husband, Derek Draper, 52, is in intensive care with a severe case of COVID-19;
  • The Queen will address the nation in a televised speech about the coronavirus on Sunday;
  • Teachers will submit ‘carefully considered’ GCSE and A-Level grades for their students after coronavirus cancelled exams – but regulators will crack down on over-generous marking;
  • Premier League clubs will ask their players to take wage cuts of up to 30 per cent and will donate £20million to the NHS after Matt Hancock hinted they should not be drawing full pay; 
  • Beijing’s chief medical adviser on coronavirus, Zhong Nanshan, said the world is heading for disaster if the US can’t get a grip on its outbreak. There have been around 250,000 confirmed cases there      
  • The funeral of  Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim – 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab – was held today without his family present because they are in isolation after developing symptoms; 
  • The Prince of Wales officially opened the new NHS Nightingale Hospital for intensive care coronavirus patients, saying from 530 miles away that it was a message of hope for those who may need it most; 
  • Health chiefs urged locked-down Britons to continue staying at home to help fight the coronavirus pandemic this weekend as a mini-heatwave is due to sweep the country;
  • Sainsbury’s has said it will no longer allow couples to shop together in a bid to maintain social distancing; 
  • Heathrow Airport announced it will remain operational with one runway amid falling flight numbers and fury from passengers at lack of medical advice when they arrive back from coronavirus hotspots.

Public Health England said 173,784 people have now been tested for the coronavirus – 7,651 people were tested yesterday, Thursday, a total of 11,764 times. 

And NHS England, which collects data on the deaths which happen in England, said 604 of the new fatalities happened in its hospitals, with patients aged between 24 and 100.

WHERE DID TODAY’S CORONAVIRUS DEATHS HAPPEN? 

  • London: 161
  • Midlands: 150
  • North West: 88 
  • East of England: 66 
  • North East & Yorkshire: 62 
  • Scotland: 46
  • South East: 41
  • South West: 36
  • Wales: 24
  • Northern Ireland: 12

Total: 686 

NB: The totals of all countries’ separate counts add up to more than the official total for the UK because the Department of Health stops recorded at 5pm the day before it publishes the statistics. Some of the deaths outside of England will be counted in tomorrow’s total for Britain. 

Thirty-four of the patients had been healthy before they caught COVID-19 and they ranged in age from 27 and 92, reiterating that young people with no long-term illnesses can still be killed by the infection.

Tributes have today been pouring out to 36-year-old nurse and mother of three in Walsall, Areema Nasreen, who died today in the hospital where she had worked before becoming ill – Walsall Manor Hospital in the Midlands.

A change in the information published by the NHS today has seen the health service shift away from naming the hospitals where patients have died and the dates they died on. Instead it has shifted to regional totals as the numbers become too large for specific details to be realistic.

It revealed that today’s death toll includes 161 patients in London, 150 in the Midlands, 88 in the North West, 66 in the East of England, 62 in the North East & Yorkshire, 41 in the South East and 36 in the South West.

Scotland today announced 46 more fatalities, Wales 24 and Northern Ireland 12.

The totals of all countries’ separate counts add up to more than the official total for the UK because the Department of Health stops recorded at 5pm the day before it publishes the statistics. Some of the deaths outside of England will be counted in tomorrow’s total for Britain. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today warned the UK’s coronavirus outbreak could peak over the Easter weekend and by next Sunday up to 1,000 people a day could be dying from the deadly disease.

Mr Hancock said it was ‘perfectly possible’ that the current numbers of deaths being seen each day could double next week.

It came after he was forced to admit his pledge to boost COVID-19 testing capacity to 100,000 per day by the end of April did not include antibody kits, which are seen as crucial to getting the UK back up and running because they can reveal who has had, and is now immune to, the coronavirus.

Number 10 yesterday performed a screeching U-turn on its testing policy as it abandoned the previous centralised approach by health chiefs and finally invited the wider science and medical research sectors to help, with private labs now joining the effort to process thousands of swab tests.

But the Government’s shambolic handling of the testing crisis was today exposed by scientists and commercial laboratories, who claimed they offered to help the government two weeks ago to increase antigen testing – which only tells if someone is currently infected – but were ignored.

GOVERNMENT BEGS FIRMS WHO CAN MAKE CORONAVIRUS TESTS TO COME FORWARD – DESPITE FIRS SAYING THEY HAVEN’T HEARD BACK FOR WEEKS 

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make PPE and coronavirus tests to come forward (pictured, one of the forms)

The Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests to come forward – despite firms who offered help weeks ago saying they still have not heard back about helping tackle Britain’s growing crisis.

In a desperate attempt to get a grip of the testing fiasco and nationwide shortage of protective equipment for NHS staff, the Department for Health and Social Care supplied two forms for British manufacturers to fill out if they could step up to help.

But MailOnline can reveal one firm poised to supply DIY coronavirus antibody tests to Number 10 – kits deemed crucial in ending Britain’s draconian lockdown because they reveal who is immune to the disease – has yet to hear back on how it can get its test approved despite approaching them last month. 

Brigette Bard, chief executive of Essex-based firm BioSure – which already makes HIV self-tests, demanded Public Health England offers clarity on what it needs, saying ‘there is nothing more critical at the moment’ than getting antibody tests approved.

Commercial laboratories and scientists drafted in to help yesterday after a screeching U-turn by ministers also exposed Downing Street’s incompetence today, claiming they had offered two weeks ago to help the Government dramatically scale-up its swab testing capacity but were ignored.

Ramping up swab testing – often called antigen testing – is also viewed as crucial because it allows officials to test thousands of self-isolating health workers and to say for certain whether they have the disease, allowing those who are free of the killer infection to return to the NHS frontline.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night unveiled a five-point plan to boost COVID-19 testing capacity to 100,000 a day by the end of April – levels similar to those seen in Germany, which has been praised for its quick reaction to keeping the pandemic under control.

But Mr Hancock was forced to admit the six-figure target did not include antibody tests. None of the fingerprick kits have yet to be approved by health chiefs amid fears over their accuracy. Mr Hancock last night claimed one of the tests he was being urged to buy was wrong 75 per cent of the time.

Medics fighting the coronavirus crisis on the frontline have begged the Government to provide proper face masks, gloves and aprons amid claims of a nationwide shortage. The British Medical Association has already warned that doctors will die unless they are given adequate protection.

Increasing swab testing – sometimes called antigen testing – is viewed as crucial because it allows officials to test more self-isolating health workers and to say for certain whether they have the disease, allowing those who do not to return to the NHS frontline.

Public Health England is believed to be assessing up to 150 different antibody tests but several kits have already failed medical checks, including one that was wrong 75 per cent of the time. 

Officials have not revealed how accurate the tests need to be before they will finally give them the green-light.

Manufacturers of antibody tests who have sent them to PHE for assessment today said there was still no clarity on whether their kits were going to be used despite some claiming their devices are 98 per cent accurate. 

But the Government today penned an open letter pleading for firms who can make personal protective equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests to come forward – despite firms who offered help weeks ago saying they still have not heard back about helping tackle Britain’s growing crisis.  

In a desperate attempt to get a grip on the fiasco, the Department for Health and Social Care supplied two forms for British manufacturers to fill out if they could step up to help.

But MailOnline can reveal one firm poised to supply DIY coronavirus antibody tests to Number 10 – kits deemed crucial in ending Britain’s draconian lockdown because they reveal who is immune to the disease – has yet to hear back on how it can get its test approved despite approaching them last month.

Brigette Bard, chief executive of Essex-based firm BioSure – which already makes HIV self-tests, demanded Public Health England offers clarity on what it needs, saying ‘there is nothing more critical at the moment’ than getting antibody tests approved. 

In an attack on the Government’s handling of the antibody testing shambles, Ms Bard said: ‘We urgently need a specification from Public Health England, so we know what we have to achieve. 

‘Matt Hancock has been on all the press this morning saying “antibody tests don’t work, self-tests don’t work” but nobody knows what they are supposed to be working to.

‘I want to know, if all these tests are failing and they’re no good, what are they being benchmarked against? Saying a test is a failure when you don’t know what failure is. I just don’t understand it.’ 

She added there is an industry-recognised specification needed for the HIV self-testing kits BioSure makes to be brought to market, with the products needing to be at least 99.5 per cent accurate. 

But Ms Bard, who yesterday resorted to social media for Britons to share a post calling on health chiefs to look at the firm’s kit, fears the Government does not yet have a standard for COVID-19 tests.

She warned the company cannot start to manufacture the kits – which are just its HIV tests recalibrated to pick up on the coronavirus – until it knows what the benchmark for accuracy is. 

Ms Bard told MailOnline: ‘We have spent five years very successfully in the market generating masses of evidence, data, everything, so we have proven we have a highly usable, highly accurate test.’

In a plea on Twitter last night, she added: ‘We are ready to go with the validation of this test at PHE. But they won’t look at it because it’s a self-test… This test needs to be in the UK market.’

MailOnline has asked the Department for Health and Social Care for comment because Public Health England says it is not responsible for approving any kind of test – even though its laboratories are being used to evaluate some. 

Explaining the sluggishness in hiking test numbers, Mr Hancock yesterday said approving faulty tests would put people at risk.

‘I understand why NHS staff want tests, so they can get back to the frontline. Of course I do,’ he said at the Government’s briefing last night.

‘But I took the decision that the first priority has to be the patients for whom the result of a test could be the difference in treatment that is the difference between life and death

‘I believe anybody in my shoes would have taken the same decision.’

First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said in a briefing today that her ministers have not found a reliable antibody test either.

 

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Navy Secretary says ousted ship Capt. Brett Crozier put sailors ‘at risk’ with coronavirus alarm

The fired aircraft carrier commander who raised alarm about a coronavirus outbreak placed his 5,000-man crew “at risk” of attack, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Friday.

Modly slammed Navy Capt. Brett Crozier as videos emerged of sailors cheering wildly for the departing leader, who was fired Thursday.

“Loose lips sink ships, and that’s what happens. And this officer should have known better,” Modly told radio host Hugh Hewitt, slamming the former USS Theodore Roosevelt commander.

A Monday email from Crozier outlining his concern about whether sailors were being kept safe was leaked to the press, resulting in questions at the daily White House press briefing, and public pressure to offload the troops to prevent the virus from sweeping through the men on board, as it has on commercial cruise lines.

“I think his actions put the crew at risk, greater risk,” Modly said. “I think he put the spotlight on the Navy in a negative light when all the things he was asking for we’re surging for him.”

According to Modly, there are “other ships that are out there in the Pacific that are now perhaps on higher standard of alert because our adversaries in the region think that one of our warships might be crippled, which it’s not.”

Modly said Crozier was canned because of how he raised the alarm. He said the captain could have called him, but instead notified people outside the chain of command, allowing the information to leak.

“He decided to send an email and copy that email to a large list of other people who were not in the chain of command, and sent it up also through the chain of command skipping people in the chain of command,” Modly said. “And that, to me, just represented just extremely poor judgment, because once you do that in this digital era, you know that there is no way that you can control where that information’s going to go.”

In his email, Crozier wrote: “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

The ship currently is docked at Guam, where most of the sailors are being offloaded for quarantine. According to Modly, about 140 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19, of whom 95 are symptomatic.

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From Kiribati to Nauru… which country will be the last to get coronavirus? – The Sun


CORONAVIRUS has infected one million people worldwide – but there remains 18 countries without any confirmed cases of the killer disease.

The question is now where he last place on Earth to confirm a case of Covid-19 will be as the pandemic ravages the globe.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

John Hopkins University is keeping a global tally of coronavirus cases – announcing the horrific one million cases milestone last night.

Its figures show that 18 countries have not confirmed a case of the coronavirus, from isolated paradise islands in the Pacific,  to the highly secretive North Korea, and then the war-torn Yemen.

The top five countries with the most confirmed infections are currently the United States, with more than 245,000, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany and China.

And then you have these 18 nations at the bottom of the table who are so-far officially coronavirus free.

Remoteness appears to be key in the virus at bay, with many of these nations being the least visited in the world.

Dr Peter MacPherson, a public health expert from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, told the BBC evidence suggests eventually coronavirus will make it to every nation.

Meanwhile, Professor Andy Tatem, from the University of Southampton, said he would “put money” on the last nation standing being one of the islands in the South Pacific.

However, he added: “But in our globalised economy I’m not sure there’s anywhere that will escape such an infectious disease.”

The expert also warned we are nowhere near hit the total peak of cases worldwide, despite many nations going on lockdown.

Professor Tatem said: “We are going to have to live with this virus for quite some time.”

COUNTRIES WITH ZERO CORONAVIRUS CASES

Only 18 countries in the world currently have zero confirmed cases of coronavirus amid the pandemic.

  • Comoros
  • Kiribati
  • Lesotho
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia
  • Nauru
  • North Korea
  • Palau
  • Samoa
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Sudan
  • Tajikistan
  • Tonga
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Yemen

Island nations like Nauru in the Pacific are able to keep coronavirus free due to their national isolation.

The country is 200 miles from any other land masses, with the nearest large city with direct flights being Brisbane – 2,500 miles south west.

It gets as few as 160 tourists every year, and is the smallest United Nations state in terms of landmass aside from Monaco.

Natural borders on these island nations, combined with limited visitors, gives them extra security to help stop Covid-19.

Nauru has however declared a national emergency, along with other case-free pacific islands like Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu as they fear an outbreak.

Nauru president Lionel Aingimea has described the nation as having a “capture and contain” policy – and they are trusting prayer through these “tough times”.

Other nations in the coronavirus-free 18 have however raised eyebrows as to the accuracy of their figures.



North Korea is suspected of not telling the truth over the coronavirus as it continues to insist it has zero cases.

Kim Jong-un sealed the nation’s borders to tourists early in the outbreak, but many experts do not believe its possible it is virus-free.

Its proximity and close relationship with China – where the virus originated – means its highly likely Covid-19 has crossed into North Korea.

The country remains on lockdown however with its borders tightly sealed and strict quarantine measures in place.

Pyongyang’s ability to handle a coronavirus outbreak has also raised questions, with Kim’s regime having a very fragile health care system.

Speaking last week, South Korean prime minister Chung Sye-kyun said the “situation is probably not good in North Korea”.

And then in Turkmenistan, the strategy appears to be one of sticking your head in the sand as they claim zero cases.

Authorities in the central Asian state have reportedly banned the media using the word coronavirus, and threatened to arrest anyone wearing a mask.


Countries like South Sudan and Yemen meanwhile are wracked with war, meaning accurate reporting of coronavirus cases is extremely unlikely.

Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy to Yemen, has called for a ceasefire to help fight back against the threat from Covid-19.

He said negotiations are ongoing between the factions to try and bring an end to the conflict to help manage the potential impacts from coronavirus.

In a statement, his office said: “[We are] engaging the parties on reaching agreements on a nationwide ceasefire… and the urgent resumption of the political process aimed at comprehensively ending the war.

“This process further aims to foster joint efforts to counter the threat of Covid-19.”

The five year old war is seen as a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and has led to the death of 100,000 people in a humanitarian crisis.

Coronavirus has now claimed the lives of more than 53,000 victims across the world.

And this is even with half of the world's population being under some form of lockdown.

World Health Organisation officials have said they are concerned about the “near exponential” continuing growth in cases.

The world’s economy is also in tatters, with government’s having to stump up to support people who can no longer work and prop up businesses at risk of collapse.

'RAPID ESCALATION'

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said: “As we enter the fourth month since the start of the pandemic, I am deeply concerned about the rapid escalation and global spread of infection.”

Coronavirus first originated in China, and is believed to have been spawned in one of the nation’s so-called wet markets – where live animals are kept in cramped conditions, allowing viruses to spread and mutate before passing to humans.

China now claims to have weathered much of the coronavirus storm, but questions remains over their officials case number of just over 80,000.

Hopes the virus could be contained have long faded, and now world governments are scrambling to try and save lives.

The US is now the epicentre of the infection, with fears it could kill up to 240,000 people before the bug is beaten.

The world’s youngest victim is believed to be six-week-old baby who died in the US state of Connecticut.

US President Donald Trump said “horrific days” are ahead for his nation as the daily death toll reached 1,000.

He said: “Our country is in the midst of a great national trial unlike any it has ever faced before.”

Britain continues to fight back against the infection with a nationwide lockdown as the death toll passed 3,000.

Other nations in Europe such as Spain and Italy have also been ravaged by Covid-19 with death tolls now over 10,000.

The Queen is due to address the United Kingdom on Sunday as ongoing dark days loom for everyone worldwide.

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Vile thief who SPAT at a police officer and told him ‘I have coronavirus’ is jailed for four months – The Sun

A SHOPLIFTER who spat at a police officer and laughed as he told him "I have coronavirus" has been jailed.

Oliver Cook, 35 was arrested outside a Kent supermarket on Sunday evening after he was seen trying to steal meat.

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Staff at the Co-op in Oxford Street, Whitstable called for officers after Cook became abusive and damaged a shop display when he was spotted carrying out the theft.

But when the PCs arrived, he spat at one of them – and said he had Covid-19.

He then kicked out at another when he was arrested and loaded into the back of a police van.

He was later charged with theft, criminal damage and two counts of assaulting an emergency worker.

Cook appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court, where he admitted the charges and was jailed for 120 days.

District Commander for Canterbury and Dover, Chief Inspector Elena Hall, said: "All emergency services and our whole community, which includes our officers and staff, are working extremely hard in challenging circumstances.

"We will not tolerate attacks of this kind.

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"We will seek the prosecution of anyone who spits at or otherwise assaults any of our team, making sure the court know it is aggravated by any claims to have the coronavirus infection."

The incident comes amid a spate of disgusting attacks on frontline staff.

APPALLING ATTACKS ON NHS HEROES

NHS worker Sama Shali, 33, who works in medicine management at The Christie Hospital in Manchester was spat at twice as she walked home after a ten-hour shift.

David Mott, 40, was then jailed after he spat at a police officer after threatening to infect her with coronavirus. He also coughed at police sergeant Linda Haywood after telling him off for breaking new social distancing rules during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Drunk woman Joanne Turner, 35, was also jailed after coughing in a police officer's face and claiming she had coronavirus.

Meanwhile, a nurse in Southampton was told to "go home to China" by a gang of eight threatening youths who accosted her as she walked home from work at a hospital.

Now new emergency legislation is being pushed through parliament to cope with the coronavirus chaos.

The new laws include:

  • Allowing police and Border Force officers to arrest suspected virus carriers and put them in isolation if they need to
  • The law also allows for more phone and video hearings in court so cases can go ahead
  • Officials will also be able to suspend all plane and ship arrivals at airports or ports or there aren’t enough staff to maintain border security
  • It also enacts pension changes so retired doctors and nurses can come back into the NHS easily without their retirement cash suffering

The legislation was suggested before Britain's coronavirus death toll overtook China and Iran's official tallies today.

A further 684 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 3,645.

Based on figures released by both countries' governments, Britain's death toll is now 319 higher than China where the outbreak started.




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Man kills himself after being ‘pushed over the edge’ by coronavirus loneliness

A 34-year-old British man killed himself because he was “pushed over the edge” by loneliness during the coronavirus lockdown, his heartbroken sister said.

Daniel Furniss of Crookhorn, England, struggled with bipolar disorder before the social distancing precaution sent him spiraling into a deep depression, his younger sister Chelsea, 28, told the Portsmouth News.

“One of the things he struggled with was being on his own,” she said. “Dan had diabetes and was classed as a high-risk person so after lockdown he was unable to go out which we think pushed him over the edge.”

Furniss was forced to adhere to the strictest self-isolation guidelines due to his diabetes — and, as an extrovert, adapted poorly to the lack of in-person contact, the paper reported.

“We were concerned about him being in isolation and stayed in touch but were not able to see him,” Chelsea said, adding that before the outbreak he had a strong social life.

“He would go out and play Pokemon Go at the park with his friends and brother and play against other teams,” she said. “Dan brought a lot of joy to everyone’s lives. Although he was aged 34, he was just a big kid at heart,” she said.

She now hopes that health officials release better guidelines to help mentally ill people cope with feelings of isolation linked to the quarantine.

“There is not enough guidance for people with mental health issues,” she said. “More could be done to help people who are struggling while self-isolating. Hopefully what’s happened with Dan can raise awareness of these issues.”

daniel-furniss-2.Daniel Furniss

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Coronavirus: 10 ways to help stay safe when you leave the house – The Sun

THE UK is currently on lockdown, with only essential travel allowed such as for exercise, food or medicine.

Thankfully there are a number of ways you can stay safe even when going outside.

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Essential travel can include supermarkets and pharmacies, which cannot be avoided by most families when buying food for the household.

Concerned families who want to avoid catching coronavirus can keep themselves safe even if forced to leave the house.

Here are some of the best ways to keep you and your family safer from the virus when outside.

1. Go cashless

The World Health Organisation (WHO) are instead urging people to use contactless payments in a bid to "reduce the risk of transmission".

WHO claim money clings onto the virus, and also changes hands multiple times so is much more likely to pick up bacteria.

Using your bank card instead is advised, with the contactless limit rising from £30 to £45.

You should still disinfect the card when finished using as well.

2. Avoid using your hands

You are most likely to spread the bacteria to yourself from your hands, if you touch other objects or your face.

Instead, try using your elbow, feet or knuckles when opening doors or pressing buttons.

While this still means you may come into contact with the virus, it is easier to avoid spreading and you can also then wash your clothes when home.

3. Social distance

Staying over 2m away from other people is one of the best ways to avoid spreading coronavirus.

While this can be tricky in shops, this can be done while queuing or while walking on streets by crossing the road.

Some shops are also only allowing a certain number of people at a time, so waiting outside for this can also lower the risk of transmission.

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4. Carry hand sanitiser and wipes with you

You can't always avoid touching things while outside, from door handles to food objects.

Using hand sanitiser or disinfectant wipes can stop the virus from spreading to everything from the moment you leave the house to the moment you return.

Use them when handling goods in a shop, or touching a trolley or door, and always do it before touching your face or other people.

5. Wear a face mask

There are conflicting opinions on whether wearing a face mask can prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Dr Julie Vaishampayan, chairwoman of the public health committee for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, says that surgical masks are really “the last line of defence.”

She warned that as they aren't fitted or sealed, the masks can leave gaps around the mouth "so you're not filtering out all the air that comes in".

However, infectious disease doctor Dr Amesh Adalja, from Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says that they do block most large respiratory droplets from other people's sneezes and coughs.

He added that the biggest problem though is people not using the masks properly – he advises avoiding putting your hand underneath the mask, either to touch your mouth or scratch your nose.

WHO do not currently advise wearing a mask – although this is currently being investigated.

6. Wash your car or bike

When travelling outside, your bike or car could be spreading the virus too.

Washing the handles, as well as anything in the car you touched such as the steering wheel and gear stick can reduce the risk.

People on Twitter have urged others to clean their door handles as a precaution before even getting in, after a man was caught licking his hand before touching people's cars.

7. Don't buy open produce

Buying food which is open means lots of people are handling it, and could be spreading the virus without realising.

Instead, opt for food which is packed so that the food you are buying won't have been handled as much.

If you need to buy something which isn't sealed, then use gloves to grab them as well as thoroughly washing the fruit and veg when home.

8. Stop touching your mobile phone

We all use our phones constantly, from looking at directions to texting people.

This makes the phone one of the biggest carriers of bacteria.

Leave it in your bag or your pocket unless you need it urgently.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient.info, told The Sun you should be "wiping your phone down as much as you wash your hands".

She added: "Gentle baby wipes are unlikely to get rid of the germs effectively. Instead, use alcohol based wipes."

When and where am I allowed to go out?

The lockdown has banned the following:

  • Social events, including weddings and baptisms
  • Communal play and exercise areas inside parks are closed – but not all parks themselves
  • Places of worship such as churches and mosques, except for funerals
  • Travel on roads, trains and buses unless it’s essential to get to work.

You are allowed to go to essential shops which can include:

  • Supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Post offices
  • Hardware stores

9. Be aware of what is in your bag

Before you head out, be aware of what you are touching before putting it in your bag.

Your keys and wallet will be touched the most, especially when shopping and then opening your front door.

When getting home, make sure to wipe them down with cleaning wipes as well as the inside of your bag.

Also avoid putting your bag down on surfaces you use such as a table or the kitchen counter, and instead keep it on the floor.

10. Wash as soon as you're home

As soon as you get in the door, you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before touching anything else.

It is also worth keeping your outdoor clothes away from all of your other clothes, and don't sit on chairs or seats while wearing them.

If you are washing them, go for a high temperature of 60 degrees as the virus won't be killed by a 30 degree wash.

If you can't wash the items, such boots or coats, then leave them for a few weeks away from everything before using them again.

Your post is still safe from the virus too, meaning your letters and parcels are unlikely to transmit the virus.

Research reveals that the virus has been detected on cardboard for just 24 hours, and decreases rapidly over time.

If you're still concerned, then it is advised to take a picture of your letters and then throw them away, before washing your hands, according to Human Biology and Biological Sciences lecturer Dr Perpetua Emeagi.

 

 

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UK coronavirus death toll rises by 684 to 3,645 with 38,168 infected – The Sun

THE UK coronavirus death toll shot up by 684 today to 3,645 in the biggest 24-hour leap so far.

Positive cases for the deadly disease have also jumped to 38,168 – up 4,450 from yesterday's total of 33,718.

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The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 has been rising on average by around 17 per cent per day – suggesting we are no closer to the "curve" flattening.

In Scotland, a further 46 people have died – bringing the total death toll to 172.

The figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet been released.

The Department of Health also confirmed 11,764 tests were carried out yesterday in England – below the current capacity of 12,799 tests per day.

Among the UK coronavirus deaths announced today is a 36-year-old nurse who had no underlying health issues.

Areema Nasreen, a mum-of-three, has sadly passed away after fighting for her life where she worked at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands.

She is the seventh confirmed death of an NHS worker from coronavirus after Aimee O'Rourke, 38, tragically passed away at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, where she worked.

Boris Johnson today urged Brits to not go out and enjoy the sunshine this weekend as he revealed he was staying in isolation because he is still sick with coronavirus.

The Queen has also recorded a special coronavirus broadcast to the nation, which will air on Sunday night.

GRIM MILESTONE

It comes after 569 people were revealed to have died from the killer virus yesterday – including 44 with no underlying health conditions.

But the true death toll is actually higher after it was revealed on Tuesday coronavirus had killed another 40 people outside hospital up to March 20.

And figures suggest Britain's coronavirus death toll is actually higher than Italy's was at the same stage of the pandemic.

Yesterday's total death toll of at least 2,961 people was 456 more than the 2,505 deaths in Italy at the same point of their outbreak.

Italy has seen the most coronavirus deaths of any country in the world with 13,915.

The coronavirus pandemic reached a grim milestone yesterday with the number of people infected worldwide soaring past one million.

A new hospital, NHS Nightingale, was opened at the London ExCel centre today to help cope with the surge in patients needing Covid-19 treatment.

Prince Charles, who is recovering from coronavirus, hailed the "unbelievable feat of work" that saw a new 4,000-bed coronavirus hospital opened in just nine days.

It comes as The Sun revealed NHS trusts are sending hundreds of staff swabs to Germany because the results come back twice as fast.

Public Health England (PHE) facilities can take up to four days to test samples, say sources.

But German labs are flying in and processing swabs on the same day. NHS staff then get their results just two days later.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday pledged to carry out 100,000 daily tests by the end of the month as part of a new “five-pillar” strategy.

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It includes working with private labs to boost checks on NHS staff — and screening the public to see if they are immune from the virus.

Ministers also aim to build mass-testing facilities to meet future demand.

The government had faced criticism after it was revealed just 2,000 NHS staff – out of 550,000 – have been tested for coronavirus.

Thousands of doctors, GPs, nurses and paramedics are stuck in quarantine because they, or someone at at home, has symptoms.

Around 85 per cent could return to work if they knew they weren't carrying the virus.

Last night, Brits loudly applauded NHS heroes for putting their lives on the line to fight coronavirus.

Millions of people came to their front doors and on to balconies to proudly clap for those on the frontline – as the quarantined Prime Minister joined the salute.

The first emotional Clap For Carers took place on Thursday, March 26, and is expected to continue on a weekly basis.

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Australia boots out backpackers after fury at for not following rules

British backpackers booted out of Down Under: Australian PM orders all foreign tourists home after fury at bad behaviour during coronavirus crisis

  • Australian Prime Minister urged everyone on student or visitor visa to go home 
  • He said ‘Australia must focus on its citizens and its residents’ amid corona crisis
  • Comes after fury at backpackers and hostels for ignoring social distancing
  • British backpacker argued that people were simply ‘jealous’ at them having fun 

Australia’s Prime Minister has told all foreign visitors and students to leave the country now amid fury at backpackers for failing to follow social distancing rules.

Scott Morrison said that while those with essential skills – such as visiting doctors and nurses – will be encouraged to stay, it was past time for everyone else to ‘make their way home’.

It comes after one hostel in Sydney was shut down after police were called to break up a party, while tourists also packed on to Bondi Beach despite warnings not to gather outdoors.

British backpacker Peter Leggatt then prompted further outrage when he suggested that people were simply ‘jealous’ that backpackers were still having fun.  

There were more than 1million people in Australia on visitor and student visas on December 31 – thought to include tens of thousands of UK and US tourists – though it is unclear how many remain in the country. 

Police were called to a hostel in Sydney to break up this rooftop social gathering, where revellers were visibly flouting social distancing rules

British backpacker Peter Leggatt (pictured) defended the party, saying it is ‘impossible’ to socially distance in a hostel, where many travellers are ‘trapped’ as flights dry up

There are fears that backpacker hostels – with cramped living conditions and communal facilities – could become hotbeds of disease (pictured, a hostel in Bondi that was forced to shut after an outbreak there)

A cluster of cases among backpackers was also traced back to two parties at nightclubs near Bondi Beach in March, even as the government advised people not to take the threat of the virus lightly.

Health minister Greg Hunt branded the situation in Bondi ‘unacceptable’ and called on the local council to ‘stop that from occurring’. 

Mr Morrison stopped short of ordering foreigners to leave as he spoke Friday, but made it clear they will not be a priority during the crisis.  

Mr Morrison said: ‘As much as it is lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times, at times like this if you’re a visitor in this country, it is time… to make your way home.

‘Australia must focus on its citizens and its residents to ensure that we can maximise the economic supports that we have.’ 

Australia has so far confirmed 5,330 cases of the virus with 28 deaths.   

There are fears that backpacker hostels – with crowded living arrangements, shared kitchen and limited hygiene facilities – could turn into virus hotbeds.

Some backpackers have complained that they are effectively trapped in the country as hundreds of flights are grounded and costs for the remaining seats soar. 

Police were filmed breaking up a rooftop party at one hostel in Sydney recently, where residents were ignoring social distancing rules. 


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged all foreigners in the country on visitor or student visas to ‘make your way home’ as the country’s coronavirus crisis intensifies (pictured, tourists leave a hostel in Bondi on Friday)

There were more than 1million people in the country on student and visitor visas on December 31, though it is unclear how many remain (pictured, backpackers leave a hostel in Bondi)

Some backpackers have complained of being effectively trapped in Australia as hundreds of flights are grounded and prices for the remaining tickets soar

Mr Morrison said Australia will be prioritising its own citizens and residents for economic help as the country moves towards a lockdown over the virus 

That prompted Briton Peter Leggatt to hit back on social media, saying it is ‘impossible’ to socially distance in a hostel and those cheering on police were simply ‘jealous’ of the fun they were having.

He also pointed out that many backpackers in Australia have no choice but to remain in the country, since departing flights are being repeatedly cancelled.

He wrote: ‘We’re stranded here, a lot of us without family or even friends, a huge chunk now out of work, and even more of us having flights home repeatedly cancelled leaving us with no funds and no way out.

‘But let’s ignore all that, and blame us solely for the outbreak in Bondi (because apparently it was only backpackers there).’

Backpackers have been singled out in the police blitz after a virus cluster emerged in the city’s eastern suburbs, a hotspot for young travellers staying in cramped hostels.

Figures released last week identified Waverley Council, which covers Bondi, as having the most confirmed coronavirus cases in New South Wales. 

The prime minister explained that some travellers to Australia, such as those on working-holiday visas could work in fruit picking and other agricultural work.

But he said they must first self-isolate before travelling to regional areas, amid fears the migration could spread the virus from cities to ‘more vulnerable’ regions. 

He also said workers will be required to abide by social-distancing rules. 

‘This is being done to ensure that those producers can get the work done but also to ensure that the communities are protected,’ he said. 

Departing travellers wearing face masks are seen at Sydney airport on Monday (pictured), with thousands now encouraged to leave Australia

It comes as Australians continue to return home to see out the pandemic. Passengers returned on a special flight repatriating Australians from abroad (pictured on Thursday in Brisbane)

Police screen incoming passengers at the domestic airport in Brisbane on Friday (pictured)

‘You can’t have six backpackers in a caravan up out in rural parts of the country,’ he added.

‘That’s not on. Not going to happen.’ 

He reiterated the current visa regulations which state that students who come to Australia must prove they have enough money to support themselves for 12 months.  

Mr Morrison commented that given students will have known about this rule before arriving, it is ‘not unreasonable’ to expect them to look after themselves. 

‘That is a requirement for their visa when they come for the first year,’ he explained.

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 5,350

New South Wales: 2,389

Victoria: 1,085

Queensland: 873

Western Australia: 422 

South Australia: 396 

Australian Capital Territory: 91 

Tasmania: 73

Northern Territory: 21

TOTAL CASES:  5,350

DEAD: 28

‘That is not an unreasonable expectation of the government that students would be able to fulfill the commitment that they gave.’

But those who can be useful to the health system, such as student nurses, have had restrictions on their visas lifted – bringing 20,000 more nurses into the workforce.   

‘For those backpackers who are nurses or doctors or have other critical skills that can really help us during this crisis then there will be opportunities for them as well,’ he added.

‘But our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents with the economic supports that are available.’ 

The call comes soon after Mr Morrison told Australians not to go on holiday for Easter, fearing mass movement could increase the spread of the deadly virus.   

He said families should not even drive to see relatives and instead stay at home, with many state borders already shut.

‘People should not be going away for Easter holidays. Holiday at home,’ he said.

‘People should not be getting in their cars and going to other places.’

The prime minister said his wife Jenny and two daughters had set up decorations at his house in Canberra in preparation for next weekend. 

Mr Morrison said places of worship are closed to the public but services will be live-streamed. 

He made the comments in a press conference in which he announced the government is working on a plan to save commercial tenants from eviction.  

French nationals are seen queuing to enter Sydney airport to be repatriated to France on Thursday (pictured), with the French government chartering three A380 Airbus planes 

Young sunseekers at St Kilda beach (pictured) on March 27, despite strict social distancing rules to stop the spread of COVID-19. Police have broken up several backpacker parties

Under a national code of conduct proposed by real estate groups, tenants participating in the JobKeeper scheme could ask landlords for a rent reduction proportionate to the amount of revenue they have lost due to coronavirus. 

‘The turnover reduction of the tenant needs to be reflected in the rental waiver of the landlord,’ Mr Morrison said. 

‘We want both parties to negotiate in good faith.’ 

This could mean that some tenants have to make no rental payments for months. 

The code, expected to be finalised next week, will be mandatory and incorporated into state and territory legislation.  

SOCIAL DISTANCING LAWS EXPLAINED STATE-BY-STATE: HOW TO AVOID GETTING CAUGHT OUT

Queensland

Gatherings are restricted to two people, with residents only allowed out of their homes for a few essential reasons. 

This includes buying food or essential goods, getting a medical treatment or engaging in physical exercise. 

You can also visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral.

Students are also allowed to attend childcare, school, college or university.

From April 3, the state’s borders will be closed to everyone except residents and essential workers.

New South Wales

NSW officials are also enforcing the two-person limit, with residents legally obliged to stay at home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’. 

This includes travelling to work or school, buying food or other essentials, exercise and medical reasons.

It is left up to police officers to decide who will get the fines, with the maximum being an $11,000 fine or six months in prison.  

Victoria 

The state has also brought in the two-person limit inside and outside the home – not counting pre-exisitng members of the household.

Its chief medical officer Dr Brett Sutton confirmed an exception would made for people visiting their boyfriend or girlfriend if they lived separately. 

Otherwise, people are allowed to leave the house for one of five reasons – shopping for food, work and education, care reasons, exercise or other extenuating circumstances. 

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT is also enforcing the two-person limit, but people are allowed up to two guests inside their homes – only if there is at least four square metres per person.   

It also only allows people to leave home for essential reasons, including shopping for essentials, medical reasons, exercise, work or study.

Offenders are being issue with warnings, but may get a fine if they are found to be breaking the rules again.

Western Australia 

As well as closing its borders to non-residents, WA has also introduced fines for people who cross out of their region.

Nine regions have been carved up, and people cannot move between them for anything but an essential reason.

This includes going to work, medical appointments, school or other types of education.

Drivers are also allowed to transport freight, and people can go to a shop outside of their area if the essentials are not available closer to home.  

Northern Territory 

In NT, police are still enforcing a 10-person limit rather than just two people.

But chief minister Michael Gunner warned it may take further action if people don’t stick to the rules.

All non-essential arrivals in the state must self-quarantine for 14 days, and people are not allowed to visit remote communities.

Tasmania

Tasmania also has brought into law the two-person limit, with residents only allowed to leave home for essential reasons.

This includes shopping, exercising, and going to healthcare apppointments. 

Going to a vet is also allowed, as is going to school or caring for another person.  

Arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days. 

South Australia

SA has also stuck to the 10-person limit, with $1,000 on-the-spot fines for people who have a larger group.

Again, all arrivals into the state must self-isolate for 14 days.  

 

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Fury as dozens of Orthodox Jews break coronavirus social distancing laws to attend rabbi’s funeral in New York – The Sun

A CONGREGATION of Orthodox Jews were seen breaking social distancing laws to attend the funeral of a rabbi on a New York street. 

The city has been declared a disaster zone amid the coronavirus outbreak, with hospitals and morgues saying they are unable to cope with the growing number of victims.

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Video circulating online shows a crowd carrying a coffin through the Borough Park section of Brooklyn on Wednesday morning.

The funeral was for Yosef Leifer, the 96-year-old rabbi of the Congregation Karnei Reim, the New York Post reported.

Leifer was a survivor of the holocaust and part of the Nadvorna Hassidic dynasty, which originates in Ukraine.

Some but not all of them men in the clip can be seen wearing masks.

New York has been the US state worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with 92,000 cases confirmed and strict lockdown measures in place.

All but employees in essential jobs are being mandated to work from home, and residents are allowed out of their home only to exercise or to buy food or medical supplies.

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More than 1,500 people have so far been killed by the virus in New York City alone.

Such large gatherings are typical in Orthodox culture, but are not exempt from the lockdown rules.

The NYPD told the Post it had received "no notifications" about the event, and that it had handed by the time they learned of it.

No arrests have been made or summonses issued.

Speaking to the Post, political consultant Menashe Shapiro, who has links with the Orthodox Jewish community said "people have to be buried" but that there was "no excuse for violating social distancing".

"What took place yesterday in that video is utterly despicable under current circumstances since it’s self-defeating and risks many more funerals,” he said.

A man who picked up the phone at Leifer's synagogue told the Post people had "forgotten about" the epidemic.

"People were in such a panic that the [rabbi] had died," he said.

The coronavirus has now infected more than one million people globally and killed at least 54,000 since first breaking out in December.



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