Australia in uncharted waters: Morrison | The Northern Daily Leader


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Scott Morrison says Australia is in uncharted waters as unemployment continues to climb and the coronavirus death toll reaches 113. The national jobless rate has hit its worst level in 22 years, with nearly one million people out of work, as two more Australians succumbed to the virus overnight. The prime minister has described a worsening Victorian outbreak as a big setback to economic recovery, but is pleased by the rapid NSW response to a growing pub infection cluster. “Hopefully we will see that situation improve as well, but as we know there are no guarantees, we are always in uncharted waters,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday. Mr Morrison is encouraging people to stay positive as he injects $500 million into upskilling school leavers and sacked workers. “Let’s keep our heads up and let’s keep going forward,” he said. Two men in their 80s died in Victoria overnight as the state recorded 317 more cases in the past 24 hours – the largest daily increase since the start of the pandemic. There are 109 people hospitalised in Victoria including 29 in intensive care. NSW recorded 10 new cases on Thursday including three more people linked to the Crossroads Hotel cluster in southwest Sydney. At least one person in NSW became infectious within 24 hours of contracting the disease, less than the usual incubation period of three to four days. In the past week, just three per cent of Australia’s new cases were acquired overseas. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd is keeping a close eye on the number of people admitted to hospital, particularly those in intensive care. “Of course we are gravely concerned about the number of residential aged care facilities where we have seen cases of COVID-19,” he told ABC news. Eight Victorian aged care facilities have residents with coronavirus, while a further 24 nursing homes have staff who are infected. Experts are also investigating how a handful of staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne contracted the virus. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has talked down the prospect of moving to even harsher lockdown rules, given Melburnians are only one week into stay-at-home restrictions lasting six weeks. “It’s well too early for us to be moving to a whole new stage,” he told reporters in Melbourne. In NSW, there are now 37 cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel. The “patient zero” of the cluster was a Melbourne freight company worker who attended the pub on July 3. Truck drivers are exempt from state border closure rules. Mr Morrison expects transport industry leaders and health officials to propose changes around these public health orders to national cabinet if necessary. Professor Kidd said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee would determine advice on truck drivers and report back to the prime minister. Mr Morrison also strengthened his language against pursuing the “very risky” goal of eradicating coronavirus, instead of an aggressive suppression strategy. “If you get to elimination as a result of this, well and good. If that’s the byproduct, well and good, but you can’t mortgage off your economy for what would prove to be an illusory goal by the process,” he said. Australian Associated Press

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