Five out of Australia’s seven states and territories have put up a good fight against coronavirus and essentially beaten it, rolling back restrictions and embracing life in a “new COVID-safe normal”.
But for the whole nation to win against COVID-19 – which has infected more than 10,600 Aussies and claimed the lives of 113 – there’s one more thing we need, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday night.
Speaking on A Current Affair, the PM rallied around virus-stricken Victoria, where 317 new infections were reported today – the largest single day increase of any state or territory since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The state’s outbreak is a reflection of “the world we’re living in with COVID-19 and we can’t become complacent”, Mr Morrison said.
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“Until there is a vaccine, these are the uncertainties that we deal with but Australians can have confidence that they are able to do so well, and remember seven out of the states and territories are still doing very well.
“Even in Victoria, where the challenge is great, we are backing them.”
He cited the extraordinary efforts of the defence force, public health servants and health professionals – as well as Australia’s other jurisdictions – for stepping in to support the state.
Because, the PM said, “for Australia to win, Victoria needs to win”.
“While it is uncertain and I know people will be anxious, Australia is doing better than other developed economies around the world. And while this is a setback – there is no doubt about that, it can cause anxiety – they have done it once and I have no doubt Melburnians and Victorians will do it again.”
At a press conference earlier today Mr Morrison called the situation in Victoria “very concerning”, but said he is hopeful cases will begin to plateau.
“I thought this would still be at a high level for some time, but as the effects of the lockdown kick in, hopefully we will see those new case numbers fall,” he said, referring to the stage three lockdown residents in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are currently under.
“Yes, it is a big setback in Victoria.”
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He also praised the Berejiklian Government’s response to a growing cluster in southwest Sydney, linked to a Casula pub.
“In New South Wales they have moved incredibly quickly, I think, to do the detective work on what has happened at the Crossroads Hotel, which will be known literally and figuratively by its name,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“That demonstrates in New South Wales how effectively the states can respond to this, and the best protection to live alongside the virus and to open up your community – you don’t protect your economy by continually shutting things down. That’s what you have to do when things get to the point they have in Victoria.
“But you can continue to move forward in the way that New South Wales is demonstrating by building that capability for tracking and testing and so on, and that’s been quite effective in this case, and hopefully we will see that situation continue to improve as well.
“But as we know, there are no guarantees. We are always in uncharted waters.”