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Coronavirus Australia live updates: NSW could move to lockdown ahead of Commonwealth, Premier says

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has revealed the triggers that will force the state into drastic stage three lockdown, and the one rapidly rising number "we're most worried about".

Federal, state and territory leaders will discuss further measures to contain the spread of coronavirus at this morning’s national cabinet meeting, but Ms Berejiklian says she’s ready to move ahead of the Commonwealth if required.

RELATED: Follow more coronavirus news

Around 3000 cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed across Australia with 1405 in New South Wales, 520 in Victoria, 493 in Queensland, 231 in Western Australia, 235 in South Australia, 53 in the ACT, 47 in Tasmania and 12 in the Northern Territory.

Thirteen people have died – two in WA, seven in NSW, one in Queensland and three in Victoria.

Follow our live, rolling coverage below.

Live Updates
9:47 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has promised there won't be a repeat of the Ruby Princess disaster and that the new system is "foolproof".

More than 2700 people were allowed to get off the ship in Sydney last week and more than 140 have now tested positive for coronavirus. Two passengers have since died.

The Australian Border Force pointed the finger squarely at NSW Health. Ms Berejiklian yesterday announced no cruise passengers would be allowed to disembark in Sydney until further notice.

She has now placed it in the hands of the NSW Police Commissioner. "I'm as angry and upset as everybody about this," she told 2GB's Alan Jones earlier this morning.

"There were a number of parties that should have provided better information to each other. All parties have increased the stringency of what's involved. No passenger is allowed to come off any ship in NSW unless the Police Commissioner says it's OK."

She added, "Now the system is foolproof."

9:28 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

Coles has told shoppers to pack their own groceries to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The supermarket giant has written to customers with a new set of rules aimed at keeping its stores safe for shoppers and staff.

People have been told they must not enter stores if they are sick, and should handle their own bags and pack their own groceries to limit the risk of spreading the virus.

They have also been asked to wash or sanitise their hands before entering stores and shoppers must stay 1.5 metres away from others at all times.

Special directions will be provided at checkouts to make sure people in queues don’t get too close together.

The retailer is spending an extra $1 million a week on extra cleaning and security guards, with special attention paid to sanitising high contact surfaces including trolleys, baskets, and checkout areas.

And customers are being encouraged to pay via tap-and-go.

Masks and gloves are not being recommended for shopping, in line with health department advice.

Bakery departments are also making changes, with items including bread baked on site to be pre-wrapped to ensure products are not contaminated.

“Finally, we’ll be regularly rotating our teams on checkouts throughout the day to help keep everyone safer,” Coles said in a letter to customers on Friday.

“Please respect the guidelines we’re putting in place as your health and safety remains a priority to us.”

– Tracey Ferrier, AAP

9:15 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

Ms Berejiklian said she was "not going to tell people not to worry because we're all worried, we're all scared".

"But I will say there's no need to panic," she said.

She said federal, state and territory leaders were acting on the best health advice and couldn't be listening to members of parliament "or other members of the community who aren't health experts".

On further stimulus, she said the details were currently being finalised and would be announced by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet today or tomorrow.

"I want to thank the federal government for their stimulus package, it's been very useful because as states we plug the holes (with things like) payroll tax and land tax," Ms Berejiklian said.

"For smaller business they're getting direct (support). We are looking at tenancies – we don't want people who rent either as a business or in their home to be disadvantaged."

8:35 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

Ms Berejiklian was asked what threshold needs to be met before introducing tougher measures.

"It's not just one number, you have to look a number of criteria," she said, noting that it takes a few days after making decisions to see the results come through in statistics like reduction in public transport numbers.

"From a health perspective, most importantly, what we look at is community activity to make sure people aren't breaking the rules we've set in place," she said.

"We also look at the number of people presenting to hospital, and community-to-community transmission."

She stressed that "it's not one number, if I gave you a number and said this is the trigger point that would be a mistake".

Dr Chant said again that "the indicators that concern me most is the increase in community transmission where we don't have a source identified".

"That has been increasing and that is some cause for concern. It should be noted there is a delay in the figures. Numbers we're seeing diagnosed today reflect the behaviours of people seven to 14 days ago. The average incubation period is six to seven days, hence we've got a lag."

Another key factor being considered is ICU capacity.

Dr Chant said NSW had been "hovering between 10 and 20 cases in ICU". The state has capacity for 500 and Ms Berejiklian said work was underway to double or quadruple that.

"At this stage only about 20 people need that high-level care. We want to keep the numbers low but can't keep the numbers low if people keep pretending nothing's happening and move around in the community," she said.

"Every day it's really important for us to allow the community to absorb every decision we take an adjust their behaviour. Every decision we take has massive consequences."

8:16 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

On tougher lockdown measures to be discussed by national cabinet today, Ms Berejiklian says NSW and Victoria continue to be "very forward-leading".

"I will continue to put a strong case for NSW as I do at every meeting," she said. "I receive daily advice, I'm supported by experts on a daily basis and I will be going into that meeting putting a case for NSW."

She added, "But I want to assure the community that no matter what decisions are taken today or tomorrow, in the next few days or the next few weeks, there is no need to panic. There is no need to worry about being able to get things that you need."

Ms Berejiklian said she was "pleased with the decisions we have taken at this point in time".

"I think the decisions we have taken in NSW have sometimes been a bit different elsewhere, but I'm very pleased that we've taken those decisions," she said.

"Control is the wrong word because you can't control a virus, but we have been able to contain the number of people that are very sick to a low number and that's what we need to keep doing."

8:10 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

Ms Berejiklian stresses that supermarkets and pharmacies will always be open even if tougher lockdown measures are introduced.

"There's no need to panic, no need to hoard, those essential things will always be available," she said.

NSW Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant says the number of cases in the state stands at 1405.

Of those, 877 are overseas acquired and 278 are locally acquired through contact with a confirmed case or known cluster.

The number of locally acquired cases where the source is unknown now stands at 145.

"That has increased and as the Premier said, that is the group that most concerns us because it represents community transmission without a known source," Dr Chant said.

There are now 134 receiving care, 62 of those in their home with 19 in intensive care and 53 in hospital wards.

8:04 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now.

She says cases continue to rise but "the one figure we're most worried about is the number of people that are getting it within the community".

"The community-to-community transmission is what we are concerned with," she said.

"When you have cases that come from overseas, you can monitor them and you have a source. But when it is community-to-community transmission and you don't have a source, that means the virus is starting to spread without us knowing and that's a concern. That's why it is so important that all of us, all of us, maintain social distancing if we have to be out and about."

7:52 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

A Sydney massage parlour owner has copped a $5000 fine after the business was caught operating in a NSW police patrol.

Three staff members from the massage parlour, along with a returned traveller from the Lake Macquarie area, make up the first individuals and business in NSW to receive infringements for failing to adhere to coronvirus rules.

NSW Police said in a statement on Thursday officers from Sydney City Police Area Command were conducting a patrol in the Sydney CBD “as part of a proactive police operation to ensure individuals and businesses were complying with all ministerial directions related to COVID-19”.

The fines come following amendments to the Public Health Act.

During the patrol, police discovered a massage parlour, located on Sussex Street in Sydney’s CBD, was still operating, “contrary to a Public Health Order”.

“Officers spoke with the female owner of the business and issued her with a $5000 Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) for failing to comply with a direction under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW).”

Three female staff members were also issued with $1000 PINs.

Read more here.

7:48 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

Up to 20,000 jobs are up for grabs as Woolworths takes on workers across Australia to keep up supplies of food and drink during of the coronavirus outbreak.

The roles in its supermarkets, e-commerce, supply chain and drinks businesses are expected to be filled in the next month.

“These are uncertain times for many industries and we have an important role to play keeping Australians employed through this crisis,” Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said in a statement on Friday.

“These new roles will not only help us better serve the increase in demand we’re seeing in stores right now but also allow us to scale up home delivery operations in the months ahead.”

The new jobs will be welcome news for the thousands of Australian, mainly in the hospitality and retail sectors, who were laid off last week.

However, Woolworths said its immediate focus would be to redeploy its ALH workers impacted by this week’s mandatory hotel closures.

Some 3000 people have already been placed into new roles across BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Woolworths supermarkets.

Woolworths also plans to offer up to 5000 short-term roles to Qantas employees taking leave without pay, including more than 1500 in its distribution centres.

As well, Woolworths has set up a streamlined application process for “thousands” of short-term roles for displaced workers from Village Entertainment, Michael Hill Jewellers, Cotton On, Accor and Super Retail Group.

“We’re working with a number of customer-focused businesses impacted by recent government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Mr Banducci said.

But Woolworths is also working through thousands of applications already made through its careers website and walk-up applications made in-store.

The vast majority of new roles will be casual in order to provide maximum workforce flexibility to respond to peaks in demand and cover for existing team members who may be unable to work.


7:44 am March 27, 2020 Highlight

The NSW Premier will hold her usual press conference at 8am.

She'll likely give an update on coronavirus case numbers, possible further lockdown measures that will be discussed by the national cabinet this morning, and more support for renters and landlords.

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