PM considers suburb lockdowns

By | March 20, 2020

Australia now has 849 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 382 in New South Wales, 150 in Victoria, 184 in Queensland, 50 in South Australia, 64 in Western Australia, 10 in Tasmania, six in the Australian Capital Territory and three in the Northern Territory.

Seven people have died – one in Western Australia and six in New South Wales – and 43 have recovered.

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Scott Morrison says the government hasn’t ruled out locking down entire suburbs where the coronavirus takes hold.

The suggestion comes after the prime minister ordered Australians to maintain distance from one another for every four square metres at indoor gatherings with less than 100 people. 

“There will be, as we have already seen, parts of cities or places that will be more susceptible because of quite localised outbreaks,” Mr Morrison said on Friday.

“What we’ve asked for advice on is the density of those cases – how many cases in a particular area that triggers actions over and above what these general rules are that apply to those areas.

“And that would be staged up according to the level of that outbreak, and what needs to be done wherever possible to shut that down.”  

Australian suppliers have been accused of jacking up their prices as shoppers struggle to make ends meet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Supermarkets, grocers, pharmacists and online businesses are among those being slammed online for allegedly capitalising on the public’s panic, by charging exorbitant prices for products usually available for less.

There have been multiple reports of price gouging: hand sanitiser for five times its normal price, floor cleaner for six times its recommended price and a 12-roll pack of toilet paper for $ 35, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

According to supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, the higher-than-usual prices are linked to this year’s catastrophic bushfires and drought conditions, not just an increased demand from panic-buying.

Aldi was no exception to the price increase, with iceberg lettuce there priced at $ 4.99 each – only 90c cheaper than their major competitors, and truss tomatoes cost $ 8.99 per kilogram, The Courier Mail reports.

A Woolworths spokesman said the company has experienced higher demand for fresh fruit and vegetables over the past week across the country.

“This elevated demand has impacted the availability of a few vegetable lines that are typically in shorter supply at this time of year across the whole market,” he said.

“We’re working closely with our fresh food suppliers to manage the impact of this increased demand, alongside the broader environmental impact of drought and unseasonal weather in different parts of the country.”

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National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Chris Freeman called on unethical suppliers to keep their prices fair to ensure products, including face masks, remain obtainable.

“While they might be able to turn a quick profit in the short term, what we may end up with is a situation where people who genuinely do need the masks then have not got access to them,” he said.

“Typically, they’re less than 50 cents in most cases for an individual supply, with the higher-level mask – the P2 mask and the N95… a little bit more expensive. Four or five dollars, typically.”

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