Covid-19: Easter weekend could ‘undo everything’
Scott Morrison has warned Australians that failing to observe proper social distancing over the Easter long weekend would "undo everything" the country's coronavirus response has achieved so far.
The Prime Minister spoke after today's meeting of the National Cabinet. At a media conference in Canberra, he and chief medical officer Brendan Murphy revealed previously secret modelling which had informed the government's response to the virus.
They said Australia had reduced the rate of infection more quickly than the models expected.
"We have so far avoided the many thousands, if not tens of thousands of cases, that might otherwise have occurred at this point. And indeed the many more fatalities that could have also occurred by this point," said Mr Morrison.
"It has occurred well beyond our expectations in the way that we've been able to bring that daily growth rate down together, and certainly ahead of what all the theoretical models would have expected.
"We have so far avoided the horror scenarios that we have seen overseas, whether it be initially in Wuhan, China, or in New York in the United States, or Italy, or Spain, or even the United Kingdom.
"They do not have the opportunity in all of these places that we have right here and right now. The combination of our health and economic responses is giving us the opportunity to plan our way through and out of these crises."
He said the modelling, coupled with the virus's relatively slow rate of growth, "proves the theory of flattening the curve".
"It confirms, based on that data, that by taking the measures we are taking, you can make a difference. And indeed, that is what we are experiencing in Australia. We are on the right track."
But that bright assessment of the current situation came with one particularly stark warning.
"We have bought valuable time, but we cannot be complacent," the Prime Minister said.
"This Easter Weekend will be incredibly important. Stay at home. Failure to do so this weekend would completely undo everything we have achieved so far together, and potentially worse.
"So all the things we've been asking you to do, day in and day out, they apply especially so this long weekend, the Easter weekend.
"When you normally may have gone out together as family, and been out in public places or parks, or gone away, that is not something you can do this Easter long weekend.
"We have already seen in other countries where major festivals or events or holiday periods have been the spark for significant outbreaks.
"So it is very important to all Australians, this weekend, that you must follow these very helpful and straightforward requests that we make of you."
Professor Murphy echoed Mr Morrison's comments, urging Australians not to become "complacent".
"We're not, in any way, out of trouble at the moment, but we're in a relatively strong position to keep the pressure on and plan our next approach," the chief medical officer said.
"We know that the tools we are using do work, and we can scale them up and down as necessary, and the data we have now suggests they are working.
"We cannot relax what we've been doing.
"If we in any way lose that rigour that the community has embraced, particularly over Easter, it could all come undone."
He pointed to previous examples of isolated cases quickly turning into full-blown clusters of infections.
"We've seen what this virus can do in a cruise ship, at a wedding. It can spread to 30, 50, several hundred people very quickly. We have got to be maintaining that vigilance," said Prof Murphy.
"Complacency is our biggest risk. We cannot be complacent."