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Stay at home this Easter, says ScoMo

Scott Morrison has told Australians to stay at home this Easter to save lives even though the country is successfully ‘flattening the curve’ and the number of new cases is decreasing every day.

‘This Easter weekend will be incredibly important. Stay at home,’ he said.

Government data presented today showed the number of new daily cases spiked at 460 on 28 March and has been decreasing since then. 

But the Prime Minister warned that people who flout social distancing rules could cause the rate of increase to pick up once more.

‘Failure to stay at home this weekend would completely undo everything we have achieved so far together – and potentially worse,’ he said.   

Scott Morrison (right today at a press conference) has told Australians to stay at home this Easter to save lives

Coronavirus data shows how Australia's new coronavirus cases have been decreasing since 28 March

Coronavirus data shows how Australia’s new coronavirus cases have been decreasing since 28 March

The Prime Minister (pictured) warned that people who flout social distancing rules could cause the rate of increase to pick up once more

The Prime Minister (pictured) warned that people who flout social distancing rules could cause the rate of increase to pick up once more

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a coronavirus press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on April 7

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a coronavirus press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on April 7

The Prime Minister said the country must ‘hold the course’ and revealed that Australia’s smaller states will release social distancing restrictions before the bigger states which have more cases.

‘The path out of this is to get back so some sort of normality,’ he said. 

Not time-frame was given for when restrictions could be eased but Mr Morrison said his decision would take into account their economic impact and the capacity for the government to provide support.

What does the government modelling show? 

If no measures are taken 

The theoretical modelling finds an uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic scenario would overwhelm our health system for many weeks. 89 per cent of people would catch the virus, with 38 per cent requiring some medical care.

ICUs would be stretched well beyond capacity for a prolonged period. Only 15 per cent of people requiring ICU beds would be able to access one, even with the expanded ICU capacity in the model.

With quarantine and isolation 

Quarantine and isolation would reduce the proportion of people who would catch the virus to 68 per cent, and those needing medical care to 29 per cent. Only an estimated 30 per cent of people requiring ICU beds would be able to access them.

With social distancing restrictions 

If social distancing measures reduce the number of cases by 25 per cent, the proportion of people infected would be 38 per cent with 16 per cent requiring some medical care.

Eighty per cent of people who need ICU beds could access them. 

With a 33 per cent reduction in transmission due to social distancing, the proportion of people infected is 12 per cent and only 5 per cent require some medical care.

In that scenario, everyone who needs an ICU bed over the course of the pandemic could access one.

The modelling finds our ICUs will cope if we continue to have effective social distancing, increase our health system capacity, and isolate people with the virus and their close contacts.

He warned that the government’s extraordinary policies such as the JobKeeper plan to pay six million workers’ wages were ‘finite’ and could not last more than six months.

‘That will revert, that cannot go on,’ he said. 

Today the government release modelling based on international data that showed how restrictions reduce the spread of the virus.

If no action were taken, 89 per cent of Australians might catch the virus and only 15 per cent of people requiring ICU beds would get one, causing mass deaths. 

That is a ‘horrendous scenario’ which is highly unlikely, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said. 

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy shows how Australia's new cases have been decreasing since 27 March

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy shows how Australia’s new cases have been decreasing since 27 March

A drive-through testing clinic in Bondi in operation on Tuesday 7 April

A drive-through testing clinic in Bondi in operation on Tuesday 7 April

Professor Murphy said future modelling would based on actual cases in Australia and could be released in ‘weeks’ to help the government to decide when to release restrictions.

‘We are not in any way out of trouble at the moment but we are in a relatively strong position to keep the pressure on,’ he said. 

The Prime Minister also revealed the national cabinet has agreed a commercial tenancies code of practice which will be enforced by state and territory governments.

It stipulates that landlords must provide rent relief, in the form of waivers and deferrals, to tenants who are using the JobKeeper scheme.

The amount of the rent reduction must be proportional to the revenue lost by the tenant due to COVID-19. At least half of the reduction must be a waiver not a deferral.

It comes after Gladys Berejiklian this morning warned that social distancing is ‘a way of life’ until a coronavirus vaccine is found.

New South Wales recorded 49 new cases on Monday, down from 57 new cases on Sunday

New South Wales recorded 49 new cases on Monday, down from 57 new cases on Sunday

The New South Wales Premier said that even when restrictions are eased, residents will have to stay 1.5 metres apart. 

‘The reality is that until we find a vaccine, we all have to live with this virus,’ she said. 

‘And no matter what restrictions there are in the future, no matter what restrictions are potentially eased in the future, until a vaccine is found, social distancing is a way of life now. That is the new normal.’ 

New South Wales recorded 49 new cases on Monday, down from 57 new cases on Sunday. 

There were 13 new cases in Queensland overnight, continuing the downward trend. 

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 5,896

New South Wales: 2,686

Victoria: 1,191

Queensland: 934

Western Australia: 460

South Australia: 411

Australian Capital Territory: 97

Tasmania: 89

Northern Territory: 28

TOTAL CASES:  5,896

RECOVERED: 2,439 

DEAD: 46

Health officials say the slowdown in the rate of new cases each day shows the restrictions on daily life and social distancing measures have successfully flattened the curve.

But they are cautious about the rate spiking again.

Officials are urging Australians to maintain social distancing measures despite the rate of coronavirus cases falling.

Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd says Australians can’t let their guard down because community transmissions are occurring.

‘I know it’s really challenging for many people with the self-isolation that’s occurring, with the restriction of activities, but we are doing this to help each other, help ourselves and save lives by stopping the spread,’ he told Nine on Tuesday.

A scaled back parliament will meet on Wednesday to pass the government’s $130 billion wage subsidy plan, which will see eligible employees receive a $1500 fortnightly payment.

Younger people in particular have been warned about being complacent, given that people aged in their 30s are among the worst-affected patients.

Scott Morrison has wished British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a speedy recovery after he was admitted to intensive care after contracting the disease.  

New South Wales Labor leader Jodi McKay has accused Premier Gladys Berejiklian of trying to ‘cover up’ the Ruby Princess debacle. 

She said a police investigation was not enough and royal commission was needed to find out why 2,700 passengers were allowed off the ship without proper health checks on 19 March.

Since that day there have been over 600 coronavirus infections linked to the ship and 13 deaths. 

‘Not only is this one of the greatest public health failures in New South Wales, but it is unfortunately being followed by a cover-up,’ Ms McKay said on Tuesday.

New South Wales Labor leader Jodi McKay (pictured) has accused Premier Gladys Berejiklian's government of trying to 'cover up' the Ruby Princess debacle

New South Wales Labor leader Jodi McKay (pictured) has accused Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s government of trying to ‘cover up’ the Ruby Princess debacle

On Sunday, NSW Police announced it would investigate whether national bio-security laws and state laws were broken.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the investigation would centre on ‘discrepancies’ regarding information provided by Carnival about sick patients.

When questioned by reporters today, he did not rule out the possibility of manslaughter charges if evidence was found that ship staff hid or downplayed coronavirus infections or if the decision to allow passengers off was negligent. 

A specialist team of officers was preparing to board the ship to seize documents and digital evidence on Tuesday. 

Ms McKay welcomed the police probe but said the NSW government needs to launch a more thorough inquiry.  

She said: ‘How can the community trust that this will not happen again, unless there is a transparent, independent inquiry with the powers of a royal commission? 

‘My message today to the Premier is please stop the cover-up.’

Attorney-General Christian Porter on Monday backed the NSW Police investigation.

NSW Police Rescue officers watch as the Ruby Princess, with crew only onboard, docks at Port Kembla, Wollongong on Friday

NSW Police Rescue officers watch as the Ruby Princess, with crew only onboard, docks at Port Kembla, Wollongong on Friday

‘Of course, there’s a whole range of offences, including civil fraud, that may have been possibly committed and that’s what the investigation is about,’ he told ABC Radio.

‘If those offences can be substantiated by evidence then they would be very, very serious indeed.’

The Ruby Princess docked at Port Kembla near Wollongong south of Sydney on Monday morning with 1,040 crew on board.

Commissioner Fuller says this will make it easier for the 200 crew members showing coronavirus symptoms to get medical treatment.

‘The reason we need to dock it is because of the regular supplies that need to go on the ship,’ he told reporters on Monday.

‘Taking sick crew off at sea is a complex and dangerous task.’

NSW Health recently boarded the Ruby Princess with the help of Aspen Medical to assess the health of the crew.

Aspen Medical executive chairman Glenn Keys said the crew don’t need to leave the ship for treatment.

‘In our view, they can be treated on board,’ he told ABC Radio.

‘The ship’s been good in spreading the crew out to make sure there is enough room. They’ve got fresh air and the treatment they need.’

Ruby Princess owner Carnival Australia says the company is assisting the police investigation.

‘In addition to willingly participating in the investigation, Carnival Australia will vigorously respond to any allegations of which there must now be full disclosure and the basis for them,’ a spokesman said in a statement.

Timeline of Ruby Princess fiasco

March 18: The Ruby Princess issues an urgent mayday call for an ambulance for two of its passengers presenting with coronavirus-like symptoms 24 hours before the ship is allowed to dock in Sydney. 

March 19: The Ruby Princess arrives in Sydney Harbour. More than 2,700 guests are allowed to disembark without adequate health checks. 

March 25: Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram says New South Wales Health is responsible for letting coronavirus patients disembark the ship.

March 29: Several crew members are evacuated and taken to hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

April 2: A 66-year-old crew member is taken off the Ruby Princess for medical treatment. More than 200 crew members are sick and in self-isolation.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian defends the actions of NSW Health and the Australian Border Force and points the finger at the Ruby Princess. She claims staff onboard may have misled NSW Health about the extent of illnesses in passengers.

April 3: Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton alleges Ruby Princess’ operators weren’t transparent about the health of crew: ‘It was ‘clear that some of the companies have been lying about the health of passengers and crew on board’.

April 4: Leaked emails show NSW Health knew of the coronavirus risk on board the Ruby Princess before allowing its thousands of passengers to disembark. 

April 5: A criminal investigation is launched into how passengers were able to disembark without health checks  

 

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