By Michael Doyle
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer says defeating coronavirus demands that people “permanently” change how they interact with each other — at least for the foreseeable future.
- Dr Brendan Murphy said people need to make permanent changes until coronavirus is defeated
- Australia would be in a strong position to ease restrictions after a fortnight with no new cases
- Intelligence agencies will not be allowed to access information of users from the COVIDSafe app
Rates of infection in Australia have slowed in the past fortnight, resulting in some states electing to ease restrictions.
But Dr Brendan Murphy told media on Monday that Australians needed to re-think how they interact with others as restrictions ease.
He said social distancing should still be upheld until the virus is eliminated.
“Even if we release restrictions in the future, people need to change the way they interact permanently,” Dr Murphy said.
“If we are going to relax these distancing measures, the things we have closed, we have to change how we interact as human beings until we are through with this virus.”
The nation’s CMO highlighted an example of a Sydney wedding linked to 35 coronavirus cases as justification for why changes needed to be made.
He said Australia was currently in a strong position when it came to tackling the virus, but more progress was needed before more serious restrictions were eased.
“If the current trend stays as we are now, with 20 or fewer cases a day and very few of them being those community traces with that epidemiology link, that would put us in a very strong position,” Dr Murphy said.
“A better position would be no cases in two weeks.”
Queensland and Western Australia will relax some of their restrictions this week, while others have chosen to stick to their current measures.
Dr Murphy said these decisions were up to each state, while the National Cabinet works to establish a guide for governments to follow.
“Clearly if you have no community transmission, as we’ve seen in some states, that might mean that some states might feel the need to relax things a bit more quickly,” he said.
“National Cabinet always has set up what we call the baseline and beyond that some states went harder when the epidemiology was different and, beyond that, some states have relaxed when their epidemiology is different.”
Intelligence services cannot access app data
Intelligence agencies will not be able to create a ‘back door’ into the Federal Government’s new app to access users’ data.
The Chief Information Officer at the Department of Health, Daniel Keys, said users of the Government’s COVIDSafe app will not have their data passed on.
“The bio security regulation rules out secondary use of the data within the app,” he told reporters on Monday.
He said the source code of the app would also be made available “within two weeks”.
“We will release the source code for everything that’s safe to do so — that’s being addressed by the Australian Cybersecurity Centre — and then we will make it available,” he said.
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