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Coronavirus in Sydney
Photograph: Kate Trifo/Unsplash

Australia enters 'suppression' phase of coronavirus response as new cases drop

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The raft of drastic measures introduced to curb the impact of Covid-19 in Australia has put much of everyday life on hiatus. However, while the rationale behind these government actions is clear, the question of just how long we’ll all be living under lockdown has gone largely unanswered. 

Today, for the first time since the crisis began, prime minister Scott Morrison seemed to hint that the light at the end of the tunnel might finally be coming into view. 

The government is now moving past the “containment” phase of its Covid-19 response and will begin entering a “suppression” phase, according to the prime minister. That is to say, early indications suggest the Australian containment measures are working as intended. In recent days, there has been a drop in the number of confirmed new cases in Australia, which Morrison says is “encouraging”, although he was quick to add that the nation should not take this positive news for granted and that only by continuing to observe current restrictions "for some months" would the country stay on track. 

Nothing will change for daily life, at least for the time being. The same physical distancing protocols and limitations on businesses and services will remain in place. However, this is nonetheless a major milestone for Australia’s fight against the coronavirus. Morrison echoed the remarks of NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, who in her morning media briefing said she had no intention to introduce any additional social restrictions. Morrison did, however, include a caveat, saying that the government’s response would need to be carefully “calibrated as [the country] moves forward”, should the number of new cases begin to rise again.

To keep Australians abreast of new developments, a new digital dashboard will be accessible via the health.gov.au website, which will be updated with the latest testing statistics and other developments every afternoon. The government’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, says Australia's testing regime is one of the most comprehensive in the world and that he is confident in Australia's numbers. While the official number of confirmed Covid-19 cases globally passed the 1 million mark today, Murphy says the true figure is likely to be five to ten times higher, because other testing regimes around the world have not been as thorough. However, Murphy acknowledges that the number of “community transmissions” in Australia – that is, people passing on the virus who have not been overseas or in contact with a person who has been – continues to rise, particularly in Sydney, where there are currently 300 such cases.

Stay up to date with the latest Covid-19 developments and travel advice from around the world.

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