What must happen before isolation rules can be eased

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Australia is “many weeks away” from easing current restrictions to combat the coronavirus pandemic but health minister Greg Hunt has outlined the “three elements” that would need to be in place before that occurs.

Mr Morrison told Seven’s Sunrise program this morning that the government was looking into the experience of other countries to ascertain the way forward.

He said Australia had one of the best testing regimes in the world “but it needs to be more”.

“We do not want to see the horror show that we have seen in so many other parts of the world visited upon Australians.”

This morning, there were 6366 recorded cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 61 people have died. The global death toll has passed 115,000 and there are more than 1.8 million known cases of infection, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. The US is the first country to have recorded more than 20,000 deaths. And a spike in cases in China has authorities there fearing a new outbreak.

Mr Morrison said no country had yet found its way out of the pandemic but that Australia was in a better position than most, “in fact many” countries.

“We want to keep it that way and that means being patient and being careful, and planning and listening to the medical advice and economical advice.”

Mr Hunt, meanwhile, has outlined the three developments required before our social distancing guidelines could be relaxed or lifted.

“One is clear indication that we are suppressing the case numbers in Australia – it could be case numbers, the retransmission rate, that’s all being developed into an assessment protocol,” he said.

“Two is ensuring we have rapid response capability – testing, tracing.

“Third, once those things are achieved, is planning the steps out, which will always be gradual.”

He said Australia had looked at other countries for guidance and that countries that had been “successful” in dealing with coronavirus, including South Korea, Singapore and Japan, had had to reinstate restrictions after easing them.

In other news from around Australia:

  • Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein announced that 1200 hospital staff were quarantined, along with about 4000 household members as health authorities battle a major COVID-19 outbreak in two hospitals in north-west Tasmania after 34 health workers became infected.
  • NSW health authorities identified new hotspots across Greater Sydney and confirmed two more passengers who had been on board the Ruby Princess had died.
  • Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the state’s curve was flattening, but “fragile”, and has extended the state of emergency for four weeks until midnight on 11 May.

Mr Hunt congratulated Australians for their behaviour over the Easter long weekend, saying that our transport movements were below 13 per cent over Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“ I couldn’t be more impressed, more honoured and more heartened by the work of Australians over the last week and more,” he said.

“We are now seeing consolidation of the flattening of the curve. That doesn’t mean we’re out of our challenge. There could at any time be outbreaks and spikes.”

Chief health officer Brendan Murphy reiterated Mr Hunt’s optimism, saying that we are in a good position but that we must maintain the pressure.

“The scale of measures at the moment are something that we clearly do have to review … but it’s not now, it’s within the next few weeks,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“I think we need to look at all of the data, look at our preparedness and the national cabinet will be making a lot of decisions about what, if anything, can be relaxed in the coming weeks.”

He said he would be very concerned if social restrictions were relaxed before public hospitals were fully prepared and had enough personal protective equipment.

Are you buoyed by the news that health authorities and the government are optimistic about containment measures?

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Written by Janelle Ward

5 Comments

Total Comments: 5
  1. 0
    0

    “Are you buoyed by the news that health authorities and the government are optimistic about containment measures?”

    Absolutely. Living in isolation is not easy for a lot of people and the time we can interact with others and enjoy the beauty of our wonderful country cannot come quickly enough. The various political leaders and the expert medical panel have kept us safe and are to be congratulated.

  2. 0
    0

    Just a shame our Government lost the race at their first hurdle ,the Ruby Princess.Our thanks must go out to all the Health Workers they are the people that can hold up their heads with pride the less said about our politicians the better.

    • 0
      0

      It wasn’t politicians that let the Ruby Princess discharge their passengers, floss, it was public servants who made that decision. The minister in charge of those public servants will have to take the blame when the police investigation has concluded because that’s what they are paid the big bucks for. Unless you live in NSW it isn’t “our” government.

  3. 0
    0

    Australians are approaching the most dangerous time of the year for the spread of COVID-19 and should not be lulled into a false sense of security by “the flattening curve” or be tempted to drop our guard too soon.
    Respiratory viruses have greater stability (infect for longer) at lower temperatures. The northern hemisphere has been in winter, the optimum weather for spreading the virus and look at the carnage.
    We have been in summer and it’s been bad enough and we still have the winter challenge to come.
    We’ve had a taste of what it takes to slow this virus and if we let it get away from us, no surprises regarding what may lie ahead fighting it in it’s favoured environment.
    Now is the time for increased testing and vigilance to find as many carriers as we can before winter sets in.
    Don’t be complacent, be prepared.
    Well done to the politicians and congratulations to everyone contributing to the war effort.

    • 0
      0

      Sorry, I should have finished:
      “To the Government,”Well done for getting us this far. Inform the public and hold out against calls to lessen restrictions until testing is further advanced and freely available or a vaccine available”.
      Congratulations and thank you to everyone contributing to the war effort.”


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