Daily US Times: South Australia ought to now be considered among the safest places in the world when it comes to the coronavirus. This week, one of Australia’s leading public health officials that as much of Australia began the slow process of easing restrictions.
Many Australians now find themselves in a position that would have been unthinkable only a month ago, when nationwide daily infection rates reached into triple figures.
But things have significantly changed. On Friday, Australia has only reported 16 cases, a sharp decline from a peak of 460 new infections on March 28.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the National Cabinet will meet on May 8 to consider easing lockdown measures, bringing forward the discussion from the week beginning May 11.
He said: ”Australians have earned an early mark. We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society.”
The coronavirus curve has completely flattened in some states. South Australia has seen no new infections for more than a week and Queensland hasn’t reported any new cases since Monday.
South Australia Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said with a big smile on her face ”No more cases in South Australia. This is a landmark for us.”
According to SA government data, the state of 1.6 million people has reported 438 confirmed Covid-19 cases with four deaths and only have 14 remaining active cases.
Nicola Spurrier said: “I think many people are surprised in Australia at how well we have done. Really, when you look across all the states and territories, this is the safest place to be in the world, perhaps other than New Zealand.”
New Zealand, the neighboring country of Australia, recently claimed it had eliminated coronavirus after reporting significantly low cases for consecutive days.
People are gathering in the beaches to relax, following the easing of lockdown measures.
Australia has reported 6,762 confirmed cases in total with 92 deaths.
A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Health said in a statement Thursday: “We’re continuing to do very well around Australia to suppress the virus and we have well and truly flattened the curve of cases and new infections.”
“Safety has been our fundamental focus and the success of our suppression strategy has meant Australia is in a very similar (place) to New Zealand, which has stated its strategy is aimed at elimination,” the statement adds.
Australia took restrictive measures
Australia became successful containing coronavirus because the country took early measures to bar entry from high-risk areas.
Australia closed its borders on February 1 to all foreign visitors who had recently been in China, where the outbreak was first reported in December last year.
As the virus spread and outbreaks flared beyond China, the country barred entries from Italy, South Korea, and Iran in early March. It completely closed its borders to all non-citizens and non-residents on March 19.
But the country also took wrong steps and faced heavy criticism.
It allowed more than 2,600 passengers to disembark from the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney on March 19, despite multiple previous outbreaks elsewhere in the world involving cruise ships.
According to public broadcaster ABC, over 600 cases and 15 deaths have since been linked to the ship.
Ever expanding testing
While closure of schools, businesses, social distancing and travel restrictions rules are common measures adopted by many governments around the world, Australia also paired these restrictions with widespread testing.
According to the Department of Health, more than 570,000 tests have been conducted across Australia to date.
In comparison, the United Kingdom, with a population of more than 2.5 times of Australia, has carried out 763,387 tests.