SYDNEY, Australia – New coronavirus cases in Australia continue to slow down today, while over 100,000 businesses are applying for a wage subsidy, still reeling with the effects of the spreading disease.
On Tuesday, Australia reported a sustained decline of recorded new positive cases of COVID-19 in the country. However, experts still urge the public to continue with caution and avoid complacency despite the encouraging news. Officials are also emphasizing the need for even stricter social distancing regulations moving forward.
State authorities are imposing further efforts to ensure all Australians will comply with the rules put in place to help curb the spread of the virus. Police are enforcing massive fines and possible jail terms to those who are breaching any of the regulations. Including the rules that they are strictly trying to implement includes the ban on public meetings and gatherings with more than two people attending.
Greg Hunt, Australia’s Health Minister, reported that there now around 4,557 confirmed coronavirus cases all over the country. However, the growth rate of new COVID-19 cases in Australia is slowing down, which is only at 9% for the last three days compared to 25% to 30% from last week.
As of March 31, there are 312 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia in the last 24 hours. The most number of cases remains to be New South Wales at 2,032 confirmed cases, followed by Victoria with 917, 743 cases in Queensland, 364 in Western Australia, 337 in South Australia, 80 in ACT, 68 in Tasmania, and 16 in the Northern Territory. There are now more than 244,000 tests administered all over the country.
There are roughly 25 million Australians in the country, and its latest death toll due to the coronavirus is at 19, which puts the country’s death rate under 1%. The percentage is significantly lower compared to reports from some countries, which reaches around 10%.
According to Mr Hunt, these figures suggest that the curve due to the spread of the deadly virus may be flattening. He further expressed that this recent achievement is due to the contribution of every Australian.
Not only Australia is battling the ongoing health crisis due to COVID-19. Countries from all over the world are aiming to curb the spread of the deadly virus as well by strictly implementing social distancing rules as well as other containment efforts. These are collective efforts in every country to prevent an overwhelming number of critically ill patients inside hospitals.
A microbiologist and infectious diseases doctor at Canberra Hospital, Peter Collignon, stated that despite Australia being late in imposing full lockdowns like other countries, it imposed social distancing rules somewhat early.
Dr Collignon said in an interview that Australia had taken measures earlier compared to other countries such as the United States and Italy. And while the country has much lesser community transmissions, it still went forward with closing its borders and strictly implementing social distancing measures. Australia also made considerable efforts to increase testing of the virus and shutting down common and famous meeting spots in the country.
However, he also commented that Australia might have some luck in the matter, which was backed by official efforts to keep social exchanges to a bare minimum.
On Tuesday, several states in Australia also introduced further penalties for people who are disregarding the social distancing requirements. The fines imposed differ from one region to another but could go up as much as 11,000 Australian dollars. That is in addition to a possible prison term of at least six months and a prerequisite to wear an electronic tracking device.
Meanwhile, the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control president Philip Russo, said that the recent talks about the flattening of the curve caused by COVID-19 are a bit premature.
He stated that the country needs to have weeks that are recording drops of new coronavirus cases every day and not just average daily disparity like what is happening right in recent days.
The caution expressed by the government was further highlighted by a deal to increase resources in the public health system. It was a call to doctors and nurses, including to add around 34,000 hospital beds obtained from other private hospitals in the country. Health Minister Hunt also stated that the government would deliver over 5,000 ventilators by the end of April.
Further, Health officials commented earlier about their hopes to boost testing in the country, especially where there are records of clusters of virus cases like the Bondi area in Sydney. It was earlier this month when the area drew attention after thousands of people seen at the beach, ignoring the social distancing measures of the government. According to state officials, the Bondi community might have already some transmission going on through a backpacker previously unaware of carrying the coronavirus disease.
Meanwhile, a report from Qantas Airways on Tuesday stated that six of their baggage handlers working at the Adelaide airport have already tested, with results coming out positive of COVID-19. Those new cases would self-quarantine, including other employees who may have come into contact with them.
The ongoing health crisis has not only affected the health sector of the country but the business sector as well. Like other countries infected by the spreading virus, the jobs and financial market of Australia are still reeling in the effects of the pandemic. It prompted the government to lay out a wave of stimulus packages to help boost Australian households and businesses alike. Recently, the Australian government announced a series of stimulus packages designed to provide much-needed relief for Aussie households and small businesses.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that there are now around 113,000 small businesses registering to the six-month wage subsidy worth $130 billion.
This wage subsidy offered by the government is an addition to its stimulus packages designed to curb the increasing business closures and the unemployment rate in the country due to the ongoing health crisis.
This allowance for businesses will help keep employees in their jobs and business operations going as much as possible. The wage subsidy has now brought the government’s stimulus package related to coronavirus to as much as $320 billion or nearly 15% of the gross domestic product of the country.