Australia

Australia has a 'sustained and genuine' flattening of the coronavirus curve, Greg Hunt says

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt speaks to the media during a press conference. Source: AAP

Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia has "a sustained and genuine flattening of the curve" with COVID-19 infection rate increases below one per cent a day.

Australia's infection rate of COVID-19 is flattening, with the rate of new cases falling below one per cent and just 53 in the past 24 hours.

"The rate of increase in new cases has been below one per cent for seven consecutive days now, and that is an important national achievement," federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday.

"What it means is we now have a sustained and genuine flattening of the curve."

But he warned there was more work to be done to maintain that position, and authorities were focused on beating the virus.

"We are winning but we have not won yet. We have to focus on our containment and capacity," he said.

The national total of deaths is 70 from 6586 cases. Of those, 184 are in hospital - 51 in ICUs and 33 on ventilation.

100 million face masks to be distributed

New personal protection equipment - including an extra 100 million masks over the next six weeks - will be distributed to health care workers.

An extra 3.5 million doses of the flu vaccine have also been made available.

"Along with the flu vaccinations, the masks mean we have additional capacity. The masks and the flu vaccinations are protecting our healthcare workers in protecting Australians."

Mr Hunt said the national cabinet would on Tuesday discuss if certain elective surgeries - including IVF procedures - could resume.

But he and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday warned it was too soon to relax restrictions, including self-isolation and social distancing.

"When you are as successful in suppression as we are, then the notion of being able to eliminate the coronavirus becomes within reach," he told Sky News on Sunday.

"But I think the most important thing, the national cabinet has agreed, the suppression strategy is working and we need to stay the course on this."

Chief Nursing Officer Alison McMillan thought it was a "ambitious" to suggest COVID-19 could be eradicated.

"It's a pandemic around the world and so we always have the potential to reintroduce it as we, if we were to open our borders," she told Sky News.

Meanwhile, Prime Scott Morrison has clarified the app to help trace people who have been in contact with a coronavirus case won't be mandatory.

He said the government will be seeking the "co-operation and support" of Australians to download the app to help health workers, protect the community and help get the economy going again.

However, a number of coalition politicians won't download the mobile phone app when it is introduced in the next couple of weeks, citing privacy concerns.

These include Nationals MP and former deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Speaker Llew O'Brien.

"I treasure the government knowing as little about me as possible," Mr Joyce told Nine newspapers on Sunday.

Australia has joined calls for a world-wide, independent, investigation into how the COVID-19 pandemic happened.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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