Australian PM urges to develop alternatives to Covid-19 lockdowns

Australian PM urges to develop alternatives to Covid-19 lockdowns

Canberra, Oct 28 (IANS) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged to develop alternatives to large-scale lockdowns to deal with future coronavirus outbreaks in the country.

Morrison on Tuesday delivered a direct plea to unshackle the country’s economy from lockdowns and border closures, Xinhua reported.

“Borders and lockdowns are not demonstration or evidence of success,” he told the Parliament.

“They are ­evidence of outbreaks that have got out of control. They are evidence of things that have not gone as they should,” he said. “As we look to the future, we cannot look to a future of lockdown as a way of managing this virus.

“What we must do is ensure we have the testing and the tracing and the isolation and the quarantine options,” he noted.

As of Wednesday afternoon there have been 27,554 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours was 14, according to the latest figures from the federal health ministry.

The national death toll increased by two to 907, and the two new deaths were in Victoria, the hardest-hit state in the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“Both deaths are historic cases that have now been linked to Covid-19. Both are also linked to aged care outbreaks,” said a statement from the Victoria’s health department on Wednesday.

Morrison praised Australia’s progress up until July and mentioned “the failure of the quarantine” in Victoria’s second wave, referring to breaches in the state’s hotel quarantine system for returned overseas travellers.

“We saw the issues of contact tracing and we saw Victoria descend into what was a cataclysmic second wave of this virus,” Morrison said.

The national cabinet, which is composed of the prime minister and state and territory leaders, earlier in October agreed to a plan to re-open Australia’s domestic borders by Christmas on December 25.

Michael Gunner, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (NT), recently said that the territory was “on track” to open its borders to travellers from regional Victoria on November 2 and to those from the state’s capital city Melbourne by December.

“At this stage we’re on track for the national roadmap which is that Victoria will join the rest of us around Christmas,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio.

“I want to be a bit careful about giving people too much hope but so far everything is on track,” he said.

However, the NT arm of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) called for the re-opening of the border to Victoria to be postponed.

With the so-called anti-Covid-19 ring of steel separating Melbourne from the rest of Victoria set to be lifted in November, Robert Parker, the NT AMA president, called for Gunner to wait and see if outbreaks surface in regional Victoria.

“We should wait to see how Victoria’s eased restrictions pan out, we know all it takes is one super spreader to spark another outbreak,” he told News Corp Australia, adding, “Not taking proper precautions could have potentially fatal consequences.”

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