Southwest coronavirus news special: All you need to know

QUEENSLAND has recorded its youngest case of coronavirus with the state's total soaring to 144.

The number of cases has jumped by 50 in the last 24 hours with health authorities now treating a one-year-old.

The Australian death toll from coronavirus has risen to seven after an 81-year-old woman died in a Sydney hospital last night.

Despite there so far being no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the southwest, event restrictions by the Federal Government have forced the impact into our region with some of the biggest events on the calendar cancelled.

Event cancellations are having an immediate impact on the local economy, with businesses already letting staff go.

It comes as a staff member at Chinchilla State High School and their family have gone into self-isolation after being in contact with a person suspected to be infected with coronavirus. The principal sent a letter home to parents yesterday.

Following its announcement that Qantas is grounding domestic and international flights over coronavirus concerns, the airline has offered reassurance to regional customers in the southwest.

Earlier in the week, we saw the Balonne Shire Council ban community gatherings of more than 10 people - some of the strictest measures in Australia. Limited health services to deal with a potential outbreak forced the council's hand.

Everywhere, individuals are doing what they can.

We are seeing businesses start lunch and dinner-time delivery to keep open, as local shoppers see the value in helping one another.

And meet Bec Bidstrup --- a grazier, a wife, a mother to a nine-month-old baby, and yet just one suffering supply shortages and shopping restrictions as a result of panic buying.

Elsewhere, parents and caregivers of Toowoomba East State School have been advised that a school family has gone into isolation after recent contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Stanthorpe State High School teacher Julia Bert is on the front line of the COVID-19 war, watching the tragedy unfold right in front of her eyes.

On the Sunshine Coast, a mother is pleading for clearer advice during the coronavirus pandemic as her daughter is currently stranded in a foreign country with no solution to return home.

In local government circles, a former mayor has called on the new council to form a 'war room' to deal with the virus outbreak fallout.

Across Queensland mines, new safety procedures are being brought in to reduce the risk of infection after a scare at one mine.

The virus threat is hitting local charities hard with op shops, including one in Ipswich, forced to close.

Across Australia, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases, based on a tally of numbers provided by health authorities in each state and territory, now stands at 756.

There are 353 in New South Wales, 150 in Victoria, 144 in Queensland, 42 in South Australia, 52 in Western Australia, 10 in Tasmania, four in the Australian Capital Territory and one in the Northern Territory

A key adviser to Prime Minister Scott Morrison credited travel restrictions and social distancing as key to controlling the coronavirus - and added the bans are here to stay until at least October.

And in good news for Queensland small business owners, banks will freeze small business customers' loan repayments for up to six months in response to the cash-flow crunch caused by the coronavirus crisis.

About 6.5 million Australians will get a one off payment as part of the Government's response to the coronavirus, with cash rolling out from March 31.

 

As Aussies try to stay well and stop the spread,  there is outrage as backpackers in Australia are defying social distancing rules, saying they can "handle" the coronavirus because they're young.

And there are hopes that an experimental drug initially designed to treat ebola could cure patients of coronavirus, after a 79-year-old Italian man who had tested positive to COVID-19 was given the all-clear following treatment.

 

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