That many Australians are now in an exemplary position would have been unthinkable just a month ago, during which time the national daily infection rate reached three figures. But on Friday, the whole country reported only 16 new cases, a sharp decline from the peak of 460 new infections on March 28.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday the National Cabinet would meet on May 8 to consider defusing locking measures, putting forward discussions from the week that began May 11.
“Australians have got initial scores,” Morrison said. “We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society.”
“There are no more cases in South Australia. This is a landmark for us,” South Australia’s Head of Public Health Service Nicola Spurrier said with a big smile during a press conference on Wednesday.
The southern state of 1.6 million, home to the country’s fifth most populous city, Adelaide, has reported 438 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with only 14 active cases remaining and four deaths, according to the SA government
“I think many people are shocked in Australia at how well we have done. Really, when you look at all states and territories, this is the safest place in the world, maybe besides New Zealand,” he said.
Neighboring New Zealand recently achieved its ambitious goal of “eliminating” the corona virus, which means that while the daily infection rate has not yet reached zero, the country can trace the origin of each new case.
In total, Australia, which has a population of around 25 million people, has reported 6,762 confirmed cases. Ninety-two of these cases have resulted in deaths, and 5,720 have recovered, according to federal health authorities.
“We continue to do very well in Australia to suppress the virus and we have well and truly leveled the curve of new cases and infections,” a spokesman for the Australian Department of Health said in a statement Thursday to CNN.
“Safety has become our fundamental focus and the success of our repression strategy means that Australia is very similar to New Zealand, which has stated its strategy is aimed at elimination.”
Some Australian states have begun to begin the process of easing restrictions and measures of social distance. Western Australia and South Australia relaxed its limits
at a public meeting, up from two people to 10 people.
In Western Australia, which saw several “zero-case” days in the past week, National Parks
It reopened on Friday, and nearly 60% of public school students have returned to start the new semester.
On the remote Northern Territory
, where no new cases have been reported for three weeks, residents will be able to use public swimming pools, water parks, go fishing with friends and play golf starting from Friday. The country has also drawn up plans to restart its economy, allowing restaurants, pubs and fitness centers to reopen on May 15 and lift the remaining restrictions on June 5.
Australia’s success in taming the outbreak began with initial steps to prevent entry from high-risk areas.
On 1 February, Australia joined the United States in closing its borders to all foreign visitors who were recently in China, where the outbreak was first reported in December last year.
When the virus spread and outbreaks spread outside China, Australia banned entries from Iran, South Korea and Italy in early March, before close the border completely
for all non-citizens and non-residents on March 19.
But this country also has a share of missteps. On March 19, it allowed more than 2,600 passengers to get off Ruby Princess cruise ship
in Sydney, despite some previous outbreaks elsewhere in the world involving cruise ships. More than 600 cases and 15 deaths have been linked to the ship, according to public broadcaster ABC.
When the number of cases increased at the end of March, Morrison was announced
on March 22 all bars, clubs, cinemas, gymnasiums and places of worship will be closed indefinitely, while restaurants and cafes will be restricted to take-home – but supermarkets, clothing stores, chemists and beauty salons will be kept open.
“What we are doing is closing meetings in pubs and clubs and things like that, we are not putting in a lock that will limit people to their homes,” Morrison said at the time.
The state of Victoria closed schools, and several states, such as Western Australia and South Australia, closed their borders, requiring anyone to enter quarantine for two weeks.
At the end of March, the authorities imposed tighter social-long distance rules, limit public meetings to two people
from 10. before. People are urged to stay home and only leave if it’s “really important,” such as shopping for food, exercising, and for medical reasons.
Never expand testing
While business closures, schools, travel restrictions and social distance rules are common steps adopted by many governments around the world, Australia has also paired these restrictions with extensive testing.
Until now, more than 570,000 tests
has been carried out throughout Australia, according to the Department of Health.
In comparison, Britain, with a population of more than 2.5 times Australia, has conducted 763,387 tests.
On March 25, Australians expand its testing criteria
to include all health care workers, elderly care workers, prisoners and people at other identified hotspots who have a fever or acute respiratory symptoms. Previously, only people who had recently returned from abroad or were associated with confirmed cases of the corona virus could be tested.
Last week, the criteria were extended to anyone who showed the mildest symptoms for Covid-19, Chief Federal Medical Officer Brendan Murphy announced.
“Anyone with acute respiratory symptoms, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, runny nose symptoms, cold-like symptoms, can be tested,” Murphy said at a press conference Friday, according to A B C
On Monday, Murphy said Australia would do it start testing cases without symptoms
for the first time “to be absolutely sure that we catch every case we can and that we have not lost a case.”
Draw anger from Beijing
While Australia appears to have succeeded in containing coronavirus, Australia has been involved in a diplomatic dispute with China after demanding an international investigation into a coronavirus outbreak.
The bipartisan push for a global investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, including China’s handling of the initial outbreak in Wuhan city, began last week, with Foreign Minister Marise Payne urging China to allow transparency in the process, according to ABC
The drive quickly drew the ire of Beijing, which denounced the move as “political maneuvering.”
In a Interview
with the Australian Financial Review, Chinese Ambassador Jingye Cheng even warned of an economic reaction if Australia continued its insistence on an independent inquiry, showing that the Chinese public could boycott Australian products or decide not to visit Australia in the future.
The day after Cheng’s stern warning, Morrison vowed to do so continue to encourage investigation
at a press conference on Wednesday, referred to it as “reasonably clear and reasonable sense advice.”
“This is a virus that has claimed more than 200,000 lives throughout the world. It has killed the global economy. The implications and effects are extraordinary,” he said.
“It seems entirely reasonable and plausible that the world wants to have an independent assessment of how this all happened, so that we can learn the lessons and prevent them from happening again … I believe there will be support for the right time, to ensure we do that,” added Morrison.