Australia yesterday announced a nearly US$100 million boost in funding to tackle domestic violence after support services reported a spike in coronavirus-related family abuse.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there had been a 75 percent surge in Google searches for help during the ongoing nationwide shutdown of non-essential services to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Women’s Safety, a domestic violence charity in Australia’s most populous New South Wales state, has reported that more than 40 percent of workers had seen an increase in client numbers, with more than one-third of cases directly linked to the virus outbreak.
In neighboring Victoria, women’s support service Wayss said that police requests for assistance with cases had almost doubled in the past week, as they dealt with a form of abuse “not experienced before.”
“Just having the people in the house, rather than having the pressure release of going to work, or being able to travel freely outside of the house are contributing factors,” Wayss chief executive officer Liz Thomas told public broadcaster ABC.
“We’ve also seen half a dozen examples in the past week where perpetrators have actually used COVID-19 as a form of abuse — telling their partner that they have the virus, therefore they can’t leave the house,” Thomas said.
Perpetrators have also invited “people into the house where the woman is self-isolating, saying that the visitor has COVID-19 and is going to infect them,” Thomas said.
Morrison said that A$150 million (US$92.5 million) — part of an additional A$1.1 billion in health-related spending announced yesterday — would be spent on telephone support services for domestic violence victims and abusers.
“We need to put more resources into supporting people who will be vulnerable and may be vulnerable,” he told reporters in Canberra.
However, Morrison said the daily increase in cases in the past few days was about 13 to 15 percent, down from 25 to 30 percent seen a week earlier, showing social distancing measures are working.
“These are still strong rates of increase, no doubt about that,” he said.
There were 3,809 confirmed cases in Australia early yesterday, 431 more than on Saturday, the Australian Department of Health said.
Sixteen deaths were attributable to the virus, health officials said.
Neighboring New Zealand yesterday saw its first death related to the coronavirus, with cases rising to 514 confirmed infections.
Two-thirds of the cases in Australia have been traced to contact with people returning from overseas, government officials said.
However, state leaders are worried about the recent rise in community transmission, especially in the most populous New South Wales and Victoria, where more than half of Australia’s 25.5 million people live.
Australia has introduced a series of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, but state and federal governments have sent some mixed messages about social distancing and other containment measures, leading to widespread confusion.
Morrison yesterday said that all of Australia’s six states and two territories are working to keep actions consistent, but rising case numbers might require individual states to take additional actions “sooner than other states.”
STANDING WITH BEIJING: Carrie Lam did not explain how Hong Kong’s freedoms would be maintained, saying: ‘the best thing is to see the legislation in front of us’ Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday said that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the territory’s rights and freedoms, and called on citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation. Lam added her voice to an unprecedented barrage of statements by Beijing and local officials, and former Hong Kong leaders defending the legislation and seeking to reassure residents, investors and diplomats about the territory’s freedoms. “There is no need for us to worry,” Lam told a regular weekly news conference. Like others supporting the legislation, she did not explain how Hong Kong’s freedoms would be upheld. “In
STEP TOO FAR? The mandatory COVID-19 app has unprecedented access to users’ location data and forces Android users to give access to their picture and video galleries Privacy concerns over Qatar’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, a tool that is mandatory on pain of prison, have prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions. Like other governments around the world, Qatar has turned to mobile phones to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor infections and alert people at risk of infection. The apps use Bluetooth to ping nearby devices, which can be contacted subsequently if a user they have been near develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus, but the resultant unprecedented access to users’ location
‘CULTURE ERADICATION’: A US official said that Beijing is trying to stamp out the Uighur culture because it is not what the Chinese Communist Party deems ‘Chinese’ The US Congress on Wednesday authorized sanctions against Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Muslim Uighurs. The US House of Representatives voted with just one dissent in favor of the Uighur Human Rights Act. Rights groups say that at least 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have been incarcerated in what Beijing calls “re-education” camps. “If America does not speak out against human rights [violations] in China because of some commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights violations any place in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. House Committee
UNITED STATES SpaceX launch delayed SpaceX’s launch to the International Space Station — the first crewed mission to blast off from US soil in almost a decade — was scrubbed on Wednesday due to fears of a lightning strike. With NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley strapped into the Crew Dragon capsule, the launch pad platform retracted and rocket fueling under way, SpaceX made the call to abort. “We had just simply too much electricity in the atmosphere,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said. UNITED STATES Chinese ministry checked Twitter has applied a fact check tag to at least two posts made in March by