16 April 2020 / COVID-19

PM & CMO Announcements

Scott Morrison just made the following announcements following a National Cabinet Meeting this afternoon. Summarised key points only and will send new modelling once it has been released.

  • Australia has made some real progress with data reflecting the progress but many difficult considerations and lots of issues to consider on ground. Attention now turning to the road out and recovery on the other side, which will be a different world on the other side
  • Economic measures on other side to be pro-growth, to get jobs back. Businesses are at front and centre of our economy so revitalization of economy with policies that encourage growth and investment.
  • Health and economic responses have to both be considered and understood together. Australia’s fiscal response is one of the best in the world.
  • Today’s unemployment rate showed only a modest change, but data from before Coronavirus restrictions came in. Figure is welcome but it is the best figure we’ll see for some time. RBA / IMF reporting have similar views re unemployment rates going forward.
  • Australians to prepare ourselves for sobering news about the economy in the months to come
  • In regards to health, Australia remains in the suppression phase. We are not in an eradication (NZ) or herd immunity (Sweden) phase.
  • Our approach shows we are doing very well, in comparison to other locations
  • Road out will mean meeting important benchmarks, that will inform the National Cabinet and decisions about easing restrictions. 3 things to get in place:
  1. More extensive surveillance testing regime, broader testing. Aus has one of the most extensive regimes but we need to do better so we can move to a less restricted world
  2. Tracking using technology as soon as we possibly can (privacy issue needs to be worked on before a new app can be launched – but PM stresses people should sign up to help)
  3. Local response capability to contain any future outbreaks as they happen, every state needs the ability to move very fast to lock down an area very quickly
  • Baseline restrictions to remain until those 3 goals achieved, which will be reviewed over the next 4 weeks with no plans to change anything over next 4 weeks
  • Elective surgery – to be discussed next Tuesday
  • 6 months direction that was talked about originally is to end of September, which was to buy time with economic packages
  • Restrictions in some form will continue after this 6 months but depends on health/economic advice as time goes on
  • Schools are a state and territory issue, they are run by state govts, they set the rules, but with 7 principles to guide them (will be released today)
  • Teachers are more at risk in the staff room than in the class room and proper arrangements should be in place to protect them, but same rules don’t apply to students because they don’t have same level of risk (virus behaves very differently with children)
  • Trial week of parliament of May – normal business of parliament, and hopefully return to regular basis but need to see how it works with new arrangements and logistical challenges like less flights and border closures.
  • Australia is well ahead of where it thought it would be. The more we do the right thing now, the easier it will be for everyone in the long term. Patience can’t wear thin - look to experience overseas, if we ease off too quickly, both health and economic consequences will be a lot worse.
  • CMO Brendan Murphy summarised latest data with modelling on screen (which will be sent when released)
  • Numbers are looking very encouraging, less than 50 people over the last few days. Most cases are from people returning from overseas, very little community transmission
  • Unless we are prepared to detect outbreaks early, and get on top of them quickly we could end up in the same situations as other developed countries are in currently, struggling with outbreaks
  • Importantly, we are detecting about 92% of all symptomatic cases across Australia – we are ranked the highest of this rate in a huge list of countries
  • All states’ surveillance and detection highly effective, epidemic is reducing across all states
  • Response is good but has to get stronger to relax distancing

Questions from media had some additional points from PM:

  • Virgin bailout – govt appreciates the value of two viable airlines, but any response will be on a sector-wide basis, not specific to Virgin
  • Construction sector, particularly infrastructure likes roads – PM wants this stimulated as construction can still go on now whilst in a COVID economy

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