Canberra, April 16 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday set out a roadmap for lifting COVID-19 restrictions in future.
Morrison told reporters here that there were three things that need to be in place before federal, state and territory governments could consider lifting restrictions — increased testing, better contact tracing and improved capabilities to respond to localized outbreaks of the virus, reports Xinhua news agency.
There has been 6,458 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia as of Thursday morning, an increase of 42 from 6,416 on Wednesday morning.
The national death toll has risen to 63, while more than 40 patients are on ventilators.
The number of cases has now increased by less than 1 per cent for four consecutive days.
The slow spread of the virus paved the way for Thursday’s meeting of the National Cabinet where Morrison and state and territory leaders began planning the easing of restrictions in future.
“Our intention has now been turning to the road out, having worked through the road in, that road to recovery on the other side as well,” Morrison said.
He was joined by Brendan Murphy, the Chief Medical Officer, who said that the data was “very encouraging” for Australia.
“But as the Prime Minister has said, if we relax the distancing measures that are stopping or reducing that community transmission, that will inevitably lead to some more outbreaks of community transmission,” Murphy said.
“We can’t afford to do relaxation until we have a public health system which is so finely tuned that it can detect and respond to any outbreak. That is the message that we gave to the National Cabinet today.”
Despite Australia’s relative success in containing COVID-19, Morrison warned of “sobering” economic news in the months ahead and admitted that the fiscal policies he took to the 2019 general election would not be viable in a “different world” following the crisis.
Parliament will re-convene in Canberra for a “trial week” in May having been suspended after voting on legislation for the government’s economic response to COVID-19 earlier in April.