NEWS
14/04/2020 7:58 AM AEST | Updated 14/04/2020 10:50 AM AEST

Coronavirus In Australia: 'Flattening The Curve' After Easter Weekend

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Aussies should still be vigilant as “the curve really is flattening, but it hasn’t stopped”.

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.  

At least 6,366 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 61 people have died.

The virus has killed more than 117,000 people worldwide and more than 1.8 million are infected.

This is what is happening in Australia and beyond: 

1. How Australia Fared Over Easter 

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia is continuing to flatten the curve as daily infection rates fall to less than 2% daily growth. 

“What that shows is that there has been a continued flattening the curve throughout Easter,” he said on ABC News on Monday.

“We will review what’s occurred, but Australians have, overwhelmingly, done an amazing job over Easter.”

However, Hunt said Aussies should still be vigilant during this pandemic as “the curve really is flattening, but it hasn’t stopped”. 

Sam Mooy via Getty Images
Minister for Health Greg Hunt 

“And so, we need to continue doing what we’re doing, because these outbreaks could take lives, they could overwhelm the health system if they were left unchecked,” he said.

“That’s why we still have a considerable period of time of difficult restrictions. But at the same time, we’re planning that road out.”

2. Australia To Reassess Social Distancing Restrictions Next Month 

While Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said it’s too early to relax social distancing restrictions now, he confirmed authorities will review the measures “within the next few weeks.”

“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 said 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.”

3. NSW To Increase Testing 

While only seven people tested positive for Covid-19 in NSW on Easter Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian reminded NSW residents that testing wasn’t as high on the public holiday.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said “we do want to see these upcoming weeks having high rates of testing”, with a focus on particular areas.

In the next week the targeted areas are Penrith, Inner West, Liverpool, Randwick, Waverley, Woolahra, Blacktown, Cumberland, Westmead, Ryde, Manning and Lake Macquarie.

Authorities have urged people in those suburbs to get tested if they have Covid-19 symptoms. 

“That’s because in those areas we have diagnosed identified cases of Covid-19 where there aren’t clear links to clusters and so we want to assure ourselves there is not broader community transmission occurring in those areas,” said Dr Chant. 

SAEED KHAN via Getty Images
Medic perform COVID-19 tests on a member of the public at a drive-through COVID-19 testing center on Bondi Beach in Sydney on April 11, 2020. - Authorities have closed Sydney's Bondi Beach and increased police patrol in an effort to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP) (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

 

4. Tourism Shutdown 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there is no way tourism can reopen at this stage as the pandemic continues. 

“I’m very sorry, but... We can’t open up tourism,” she said in an interview on ABC News. “It would be absolutely negligent to open up tourism when we are flattening the curve. It is the most negligent thing to do.”

Areas such as Cairns have seen some small levels of community transmission, but Palaszczuk said she’d be reluctant to reopen the “tourism industry megacentre” in order to avoid a spike of coronavirus cases.  

“I know that tourism operators are struggling. Cairns is a tourism industry megacentre,” she said. “But once we get through all of this, I’m quite sure that with light at the end of the tunnel, we will see a lot of Australians going and travelling in Cairns. But this is now not the time.”

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham at the weekend said there are no guarantees international flights will resume by December.

“It’s far too early to expect that the international restrictions will be eased,” he told Channel 7 on Monday, urging Australians to think about a domestic destination instead.  

“Undertake a little bit of dreaming, a little bit of planning, so those that can afford to, can get out and support an Australian tourism business when we get to the other side of this.”  

5. Unemployment To Peak 

In what is the first time since 1994, Australia’s unemployment rate is set to hit the double digits, with federal treasury forecasting the jobless rate will hit 10% this June quarter. 

“It is a heartbreaking number,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted during an interview on Channel Nine’s Today show.

“Unemployment at that rate, hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs, it is just absolutely heartbreaking.”

The PM said the government’s JobKeeper scheme will help “limit that devastation” and that the number of businesses linked up to the program has doubled.