Police were called to a funeral home in Brooklyn after it was found storing 50 bodies on ice in rented trucks, US President Donald Trump says national social distancing guidelines will be “fading out” on Thursday and Britain now has Europe’s second-highest death toll.
Back home in Australia, the ACT has confirmed it has no active cases of coronavirus, the Northern Territory has announced its roadmap for removing social restrictions, and a report has found a Tasmanian outbreak likely originated with the Ruby Princess.
This story was regularly throughout Thursday. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
South Korea has recorded no new domestically transmitted cases of COVID-19 for the first time in 75 days, or since mid-Feburary.
The Koreas Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded four new infections, but they were imported cases.
The country has recorded 10,765 cases of coronavirus and 247 deaths while 9,059 people have been discharged from hospital.
After grappling with the first major outbreak outside China, South Korea has largely managed to bring the outbreak under control without major disruptions with a massive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing.
Overwhelmed funeral home stores bodies in rented trucks
Police have been called to a funeral home in Brooklyn after it resorted to storing dozens of bodies on ice in rented trucks, and a passerby complained about the smell.
Officers who attended the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home on Wednesday found the home had rented four trucks to hold about 50 corpses, according to a law enforcement official.
Investigators said the home had been overwhelmed by the coronavirus and added that no criminal charges would be laid, but said it was cited for failing to control the odors.
The home was able to obtain a larger, refrigerated truck later in the day, the official said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the situation was under investigation.
“It was people who walked by who saw some leakage and detected an odour coming from a truck.”
New York City funeral homes have struggled in the city since late March.Hospitals have used refrigerated tractor trailers to cart away multiple bodies at a time, sometimes loading them in public view on the sidewalk.
The guidelines encourage people to work from home and avoid restaurants, large gatherings, discretionary travel, and advised older Americans and those with serious underlying health conditions to isolate themselves.
Vice-President Mike Pence said the guidelines had been incorporated into the new guidance issued by the White House earlier this month that lays out how states can gradually ease restrictions and begin to reopen as the rate of new cases slows.
Mr Trump also laid out a vision of a return to pre-coronavirus normalcy — “with or without” a vaccine — with packed restaurants and filled stadiums.
The United States has now recorded about 60,207deaths from the virus, surpassing the total number of Americans who were killed in the Vietnam War.
More than 1 million people in the US have now tested positive.
More than 3 million COVIDSafe app downloads
The Federal Government’s coronavirus tracing app has been downloaded more than 3.31 million times.
Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan also gave an update on Thursday’s latest figures:
556,000 tests have been carried out in Australia
There’s currently 36 people in ICU, 25 need ventilators
More than 20,000 nurses have registered for an additional critical care course
More than 3,000 nurses who recently left the workforce have completed a refresher course to allow them return if needed
Ms McMillan said the Government won’t be rushing into making any changes to international travel restrictions and that decisions will be made once there is a “sustained flattening of the curve.”
Ban on single-use plastics delayed in SA
A ban on some single-use plastics will be pushed back in South Australia to allow restaurants and cafes to use disposable items to improve hygiene during the coronavirus pandemic.
Environment Minister David Speirs said although a ban had strong support, the situation had changed “dramatically” in recent weeks.
Mr Speirs said a start date for the ban, June 30, had now been removed from the legislation currently before State Parliament.
The Restaurant and Catering Association is working with the State Government to form guidelines it hopes will allow hospitality businesses to re-open “sooner rather than later”.
Zero confirmed active cases in ACT
The ACT has become the first Australian state or territory to eliminate all known cases of COVID-19.
The last two Canberrans to have the infectious disease have now recovered, the ACT Government confirmed on Thursday.
The illness claimed three lives in Canberra, which recorded a total of 106 cases since the first coronavirus case was confirmed seven weeks ago.
ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman welcomed the local elimination of the virus, but reiterated that the pandemic is ongoing.
“Even though we have no active cases at the moment, it’s vitally important that we continue testing as many people with symptoms as possible to know the most accurate representation of COVID-19 within the ACT.”
The ACT expanded testing last Friday to include anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of whether or not they had been in contact with someone who had the virus.
More than8,600 tests have been conducted in the Territory, and Dr Coleman said Canberra was in a position to test anybody with symptoms.
Northern Territory to allow outdoor activities from Friday as restrictions ease
The Northern Territory has announced its timeline for easing restrictions.
From May 1: Outdoor activities where social distancing can be maintained will be allowed, including weddings and funerals
From May 15: Simple indoor activities will be allowed, including going to restaurants and taking part in indoor sport, but a two-hour limit will apply
From June 5: The two-hour limit on activities will be removed, and all remaining restrictions on gaming areas and cinemas will be lifted
A separate plan will be developed for events with more than 500 people.
Earlier, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told ABC News Breakfast it would make “no sense” for the Territory, which has had “no community cases”, to have the same measures as New South Wales.
These are the confirmed new cases that were announced on Thursday:
New South Wales: 2
Western Australia: 0
South Australia: 0
Northern Territory: 0
Two deaths in Tasmania, outbreak linked to Ruby Princess
Two86-year-old women with coronavirus have died in Tasmania, taking the state’s death toll to 13.
On Thursday morning, Premier Peter Gutwein released the findings of a report into the coronavirus outbreak in Tasmania’s north-west.
It found the outbreak most likely originated from the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
The report found some staff who were infectious worked in local hospitals for several days while experiencing symptoms that they did not attribute to coronavirus.
There have been 136 cases of coronavirus in north-west Tasmania, including 81 healthcare workers.
Possible coronavirus cluster linked to Melbourne aged-care facility
The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton told 3AW authorities were investigating a number of cases linked to Hawthorn Grange residential aged care.
Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne, he said there were three new positive cases at the home, including two residents and one staff member.
Professor Sutton said stringent protection measures were being put in place because the “potential for spread is enormous”.
Seven new cases have been confirmed in Victoria, bringing the total to 1,361.
UK has second-highest outbreak in Europe
The United Kingdom now has the second-worst death toll in Europe and third-worst in the world, after the British Government began including deaths from outside hospitals in its daily fatality figures.
Britain now stands behind only the United States and Italy in total deaths from COVID-19, after it was revealed the total stood at 26,097 — a rise from the previous day’s hospital-only figure of 21,678.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said there had not been a “sudden surge” in deaths as the figures now included all deaths attributed to COVID-19 from between March 2 to April 28.