‘Virus writes its own rules’: PM to release new modelling as country moves into ‘new phase’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia had entered single-digit levels of COVID-19 infection growth and that the country could now move into a "new phase" of virus suppression.
"Had the virus kept growing at the same rate it was 12 days ago, we would now have more than 10,500 cases in this country," he said. Australia has recorded 5315 cases as of Friday afternoon.
Australian Prime Minister Scott MorrisonCredit:Alex Ellinghausen
"That is a tribute to the work that has been done by Australians in getting around and supporting the very sensible measures that have been put in place all around the country," he said.
"But we must continue to do this. It doesn't matter what the temperature is, if it's a warm day, don't go in masses down to the beach."
Mr Morrison said chief medical officers would prepare to release updated modelling next week.
"Early modelling shows if we keep doing the work and upgrade our [intensive care] capacity then right now that trajectory is promising," he said. "But there are no guarantees, this virus writes its own rules."
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the true number of coronavirus cases was likely to be "five or ten times higher" than the global figure of 1 million cases recorded on Friday.
He said in Australia it appeared the number of cases coming from cruise ships and those returning home were now under control.
"The issue that worries all of us are these community transmissions," he said.
Dr Murphy said there were people in Australia with COVID-19 who did not know they had the disease or were incubating it.
Seasonal workers to self-isolate
The Prime Minister also said international visitors on working visas would have to self-isolate for 14 days before moving out to rural and regional areas to take up jobs such as picking fruit where there is a shortage of labour.
"This is being done to ensure that those producers can get the work done, but also to ensure that the communities are protected."
He said after the 14 days, they could then move to the country to work but farmers will have to ensure their workforce abides by self-distancing measures.
Mr Morrison said the move was to ensure that the virus was not inadvertently transferred from an urban area to the country.
Commercial landlords to be forced to give rental reductions
Mr Morrison said he had hoped to have a commercial tenancy agreement finalised on Friday, but indicated it would be delivered next week.
He said the national cabinet had agreed to a mandatory code for commercial landlords and tenants in financial distress. The mandatory code will apply to tenants where they have a turnover of less than 50 million and are part of the JobKeeper program.
"The turnover reduction of the tenant needs to be reflected in the rental waiver of the landlord," Mr Morrison said.
He said for businesses that had to shut their doors for three months, the tenants and landlords could agree to extend the lease for three months at the end of the agreement to make up the lost revenue.
"We do not wish to be prescriptive," he said. "What we want to do is have tenants in the room."
Mr Morrison said if you are a tenant that has not had a reduction in their business turnover, "your rental agreement stands".
More to come.
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