Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 26 March.


Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus. The British heir to the throne is reportedly suffering only mild symptoms and is “up and about” in self-isolation in Scotland. It’s understood the 71-year-old was not infectious at his last public engagement or during his latest meeting with the Queen on 12 March. Spain has recorded 738 deaths in the past day, passing China as the second-worst affected nation as its death toll reached 3,434. Globally, nearly 440,000 people have contracted the Covid-19 virus, with more than 110,000 having made a full recovery and more than 20,000 deaths.

In Australia, an unknown number of international arrivals were handed outdated information sheets at Sydney airport, including advice they could return immediately to work. Hundreds of Australians stranded on an ill-fated Norwegian cruise ship, denied permission to dock in four countries, have been successfully repatriated. And Anne Davis writes that unedifying finger-pointing over who was responsible for the Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle won’t slow the spread of Covid-19. On-site auctions and open house inspections have been banned across the country, prompting industry concerns over falling property prices for home owners. Rapid testing kits have received urgent approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. And a shortage of personal protective equipment has prompted a major hospital operator to cease all non-emergency and non-urgent surgeries this week.

Thousands of 15-minute Covid-19 home tests will be available across Europe “within days”, the director of England’s national infection service has confirmed. The UK government has purchased 3.5m tests, with the cost passed on to consumers believed to be a minimal fee. In the US a landmark $2tn rescue package has been signed off in the Senate to provide assistance to workers, businesses and the healthcare system. India’s 1.3 billion people have woken to a 21-day lockdown with the prime minister, Narendra Modi, banning people from leaving their homes “to save India, and every Indian citizen, to save you, and save your family”. And in the UK, more than 400,000 people have signed up as volunteers to support vulnerable people, to deliver vital supplies such as food and medicines to up to 1.5 million in need.


Coral bleaching at Heron Island

Coral bleaching at Heron Island, which did not bleach during the 2016-17 mass bleaching. Photograph: Charlotte Page

The Great Barrier Reef has experienced a third mass coral bleaching event in five years, with aerial surveys revealing that hundreds of reefs are showing considerable bleaching. Not all bleaching leads to coral die-offs, with scientists hopeful that popular spots between Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands may recover.

The Australian academic Dr Yang Hengyun could face the death penalty, with China preparing charges of espionage against the 54-year-old. Yang has been imprisoned for more than 432 days, despite calls from the foreign minister, Marise Payne, for his immediate release.

More than 35,000 Australians have been stood down from work over the past three days, as businesses reel from the Covid-19 pandemic. Virgin Australia has mothballed 8,000 positions, while nearly 20,000 people have been stood down from the casino and gambling sector.

The world

Russian president Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin visits a hospital outside Moscow on Tuesday. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin pool/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

A public vote to allow Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036 has been delayed, with the plebiscite suspended due to the coronavirus. Current term limits prevent the 67-year-old, who has been in power since 2000, from governing past 2024.

Turkish prosecutors have charged 20 Saudi nationals over the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including two men close to Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. A CIA investigation concluded in November 2018 that the prince had ordered the dissident’s gruesome murder.

Brazilian gangs have installed curfews in some of the nation’s most infamous favelas, with residents accusing an “absent” government of failing to curb the spread of Covid-19, and gang members instead patrolling high-density parts of town.

The world’s wind power capacity grew by almost a fifth in 2019, after a year of record growth for offshore windfarms and a boom in onshore projects in the US and China, with 60 gigawatts of new projects becoming operational last year.

Recommended reads

The Chats

The Chats: ‘Because we have this look and we’re Queenslanders and we talk a certain way, people just think that we’re racists … It’s stupid.’ Photograph: Matt Walker

With an image that smacks of bogan, it’s easy to pigeonhole Queensland “shed rockers” the Chats. But don’t let the superficial distract you from their music, Brodie Lancaster writes.The band has grown from their first single, Mum Stole My Darts, to being asked to headline Coachella. “The Chats are designed to provoke a reaction. In Australia, it’s a mix of familiar affection and an eye-roll; but internationally – especially in the UK and Europe – they fill bigger rooms.”

From the 1980s on, a thoroughgoing and overt commitment to capitalism became fundamental to every mainstream political party. But as the Johnson, Trump and Morrison governments scramble to respond to the coronavirus, ideologies once decried as “socialism” are forming the backbone of policy, writes Jeff Sparrow.

In the age of coronavirus the humble dinner party is out. So how to bring socialising and levity back into your caged evenings indoors? Samantha Payne has a few tips to organise your own virtual gathering – and for a classic twist on the menu, why not all try cooking the same dish and see who mangles it the worst?


Why clear communication is essential in a pandemic: as coronavirus continues to spread, Australians have voiced concern that the government is failing to clearly communicate what steps people should take to slow the rate of infection. In this episode of Full Story, Melissa Davey looks at what other countries have been doing and explains how the government can do better.

Full Story: coronavirus updates

Why clear communication is essential in a pandemic

Sorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen

Full Story is Guardian Australia’s news podcast. Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcasting app.


Wimbledon could be the next major sports event to be cancelled, with the mooted start date of 29 June awfully close to Boris Johnson’s best-case scenario of flattening the infection curve inside 12 weeks.

The football giants Barcelona are considering a 70% pay reduction for all of their players as long as lockdown conditions continue across Spain. The measures would be the same across men’s, women’s and junior teams, with staff being offered the same deal.

Media roundup

A Chinese government-backed property giant has been buying up global emergency health supplies for months, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, with the Sydney office shipping crates of masks, gloves and thermometers sourced within Australia back to Covid-19-affected China. Staff at the NSW Port Authority had warned of a “gaping hole” in biosecurity screening weeks before the Ruby Princess fiasco, writes the Australian, calling measures dealing with unwell passengers as “woefully inadequate”. And more than 85,000 Queenslanders could be out of work today as businesses close their doors, the Courier-Mail has said.

Coming up

There is no live sport at the moment but you can relive the glory of the 1989 AFL grand final between Hawthorn and Geelong through our retro live blog this afternoon.

And if you’ve read this far …

And for those dreaming of breaking free from self-isolation already, a viral video from Canada has captured the moment a grizzly bear, known as Boo, emerged groggily from under the snow to end his winter hibernation.

Sign up

If you would like to receive the Guardian Australia morning mail to your email inbox every weekday, sign up here.

Source link