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Australian PM reaffirms commitment to coronavirus suppression strategy

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Australia’s Prime Minister declared that the National Cabinet had committed to a suppression strategy in response to COVID-19.

Despite calls for Australia to adopt an “elimination” strategy similar to that of New Zealand, PM Scott Morrison said that the National Cabinet — which is composed of the PM and state and territory leaders — on Friday recommitted to suppression as its lead strategy, Xinhua news agency reported.

“A couple of other points that were agreed on today was an affirmation of the suppression strategy that we’ve been working to nationally now for many, many months from the outset,” Morrison told reporters after the National Cabinet meeting.

“The goal of that is obviously, and has always been no community transmission.”

“There will always be cases that come because Australia has not completely shut itself off from the world. To do so would be reckless.”

As of Friday afternoon there had been 13,595 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, including 139 deaths, and the number of new cases in the last 24 hours is 309, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

Of the new cases, 300 were in Victoria where 20 previously diagnosed cases have been reclassified, resulting in a net increase of 280.

“There have been seven new deaths from COVID-19 reported since yesterday,” said a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria on Friday.

“Five of the deaths are linked to aged care facilities. To date, 56 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.”

Morrison said that “while there is some better news today out of Victoria” after three consecutive days of more than 370 new cases in the state but that it was too early to be confident or complacent.

The National Cabinet also on Friday agreed to fast-track 15 major infrastructure projects to tackle rising unemployment and to greater data sharing between governments on COVID-19 to track and document the virus.

Paul Kelly, the acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), said that under the agreement, federal authorities would receive more “granular” data on state and territory testing regimes.

“We will want that regularly from all of the states and territories to make sure that that testing regime is remaining as it should be,” he said.

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