COVID-19

Covid-19: Australia fights clusters as parts of country ease restrictions

Thirteen new cases were recorded in Victoria today, health officials said, with six of the cases related to an infections cluster at a meat processing facility in Melbourne.

"What I'm worried about is the unknown unknowns," Victoria's Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said at a televised briefing, urging more people to get tested.

"We want to make sure that if we have cases that are positive in the community we can identify those individuals... this is how we are going to defeat the virus."

Coronavirus: Los Angeles offers free virus testing to all residents

Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement just hours after Los Angeles County reported its largest daily increase in new Covid-19 cases.

Until now, only essential workers and those displaying symptoms could receive tests due to a scarcity of kits.

It comes as California is expected to close all beaches across the state.

Los Angeles County currently accounts for almost half of California's confirmed coronavirus cases. The state has so far reported over 48,000 cases and more than 1,900 deaths.

Touchdown for local Covid-19 test carts in South Pacific

Suva-based WHO representative Angela Merianos said Pacific nations were among the first group of countries receiving specially developed cartridges from US manufacturer Cepheid, for local testing of Covid-19.

South Pacific nations using New Zealand or Australia to run their testing should be getting cartridges. Some, like Tokelau where there was no testing facility, would also receive the GeneXpert system.

New Zealand Rugby reveal the massive financial hit due to coronavirus

While the $7.4m loss represents a 37 per cent improvement on budget, NZR financial officer Nicki Nicol warned of the significant impacts Covid-19 will bring.

“At New Zealand Rugby we are forecasting up to a 70 per cent decline in revenue and we’ve had to quickly adjust our cost base accordingly,” Nicol said at Thursday’s annual general meeting.

“We know this has had an impact across all areas of our game; our players, teams, competitions, programmes and partnerships with provincial unions, Super clubs and others across the industry.

Outcry as Spanish beach sprayed with bleach

Zahara de los Atunes, near Cadiz, used tractors to spray more than 2km (1.2 miles) of beach with a bleach solution a day before Spain allowed children out of lockdown for the first time.

Environmentalists say the move caused "brutal damage" to the local ecosystem.

Spain has been badly affected by the coronavirus, with 23,800 deaths.

It recently announced a four-phase plan to lift its stringent lockdown measures and return to a "new normality" by the end of June.

Spotify hits 130 million subscribers amid Covid-19

The music-streaming platform says it gained six million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020.

It said the figures fell into the higher end of what had been predicted before the coronavirus outbreak.

But analysts have warned Spotify's quarterly results may not be as positive as the company suggests.

Spotify said a double-digit rise in quarterly revenue had helped offset a decline in ad sales, which contributed less than 10% of its overall revenue.

Pacific caught in balancing act due to Covid-19 efforts

The WHO's Angela Merianos said new initiatives like the Pacific Islands Forum's fast-track humanitarian pathway are helping these efforts.

Dr Merianos leads a new space for more than 20 agencies joining forces against Covid-19 in the Pacific.

She said the team are well aware of the impact of restrictions on tourism-dependent economies.

"I think we really have to again work collectively watch this space, make sure that we're balancing the interest of public health and human safety."

Holocaust survivor Henri Kicha succumbs to Covid-19, age 94

He was one of a handful of people left who survived Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in occupied southern Poland during World War II.

He spoke to the BBC in January about his experience. Asked how he survived, he said: "You did not live through Auschwitz. The place itself is death."

In a Facebook tribute, his son Michel Kichka wrote: "A small microscopic coronavirus has succeeded where the entire Nazi army had failed. My father had survived the Death March, but today his Life March has ended."

Pacific tourism industry wiped out by Covid-19

Thousands of jobs in countries like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are dependent on visitor numbers, which have fallen to zero.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost, with resorts and hotels closing in Fiji, the Cook Islands and Samoa, countries where tourism makes up more than half the economy.

And the ILO said with the pain brought by the pandemic expected to be long-lasting, workers with previously stable incomes are sliding into poverty.

Many of these people are also informal workers, with few protections if their jobs fall through.

Nauru signs Joint Ministerial Statement to keep global supply and trade links open during COVID-19

A Joint Ministerial Statement by Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, The Republic of Nauru, New Zealand, Singapore and Uruguay represents a collective response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, with a commitment to maintaining open and connected supply chains, as well as to collaborating to identify and address trade disruptions with ramifications on the flow of necessities.