Coronavirus cases in Australia are rising at a rate that has leaders worried. Picture: Sam Mooy/AAP/Getty Pool
Coronavirus cases in Australia are rising at a rate that has leaders worried. Picture: Sam Mooy/AAP/Getty Pool

‘We are very worried’: Australian leaders

In a late night press conference, standing next to the Prime Minister, Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy opened his brief address with a grave message.

"We are very worried about the rate of rise of the number of coronavirus cases in Australia, particularly over the last few days," he said.

"It is a very, very steep growth and it's very concerning."

Cases in Australia have surpassed 2000 with updated totals from the states and territories expected again today. The overall cases are still doubling every three to four days, having only passed 1000 last Saturday.

The National Cabinet met on Tuesday night to tighten and extend measures about gatherings and business operations first announced on Sunday.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy on Tuesday night. Picture: Sam Mooy/AAP/Getty Pool
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy on Tuesday night. Picture: Sam Mooy/AAP/Getty Pool

"Australians should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work - where you cannot work from home, going to school and exercising," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

He said the new way of life will be with us for at least six months and would require a "significant sacrifice".

Prof Murphy added: "These measures are really draconian. We know that. But if we're going to control community transmission, we have to stop the capacity of this virus from spreading from person to person."

Prof Murphy said they are very worried about the rate cases are rising in Australia. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP/Pool
Prof Murphy said they are very worried about the rate cases are rising in Australia. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP/Pool

He urged return travellers to heed instructions and go straight home from their arrival location and isolate for 14 days.

"The states and territories will be checking on you," Prof Murphy said.

"We will not tolerate anybody putting the community at risk as a returned traveller."

Prof Murphy said this applied to people getting off planes and cruise ships.

"Or wherever you're from," he said.

"We have been materially hit from people from a cruise ship in the last few days as well. That is so important."

More than 130 cases nationwide were yesterday identified as being linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship which docked in Sydney on March 19.

 

Mr Morrison acknowledged Australians would be making a significant sacrifice. Picture: Sam Mooy/AAP/Getty Pool
Mr Morrison acknowledged Australians would be making a significant sacrifice. Picture: Sam Mooy/AAP/Getty Pool

However, cases are now also being identified as resulting from community transmission, in people who "aren't clearly contacts", rather than in returned travellers or contacts of confirmed cases.

Prof Murphy said these have appeared in "small pockets", particularly in NSW and Sydney, and "tiny pockets" in other states.

"Some people are being told they are a positive case and going into the chemist or the supermarket on the way home," Prof Murphy said.

"If you are isolating because you are a positive case or you're isolating because you're a contact, you go home and you isolate and you obey those rules."

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday stared down the barrel of a camera and issued the same message.

"Go straight home," he said.

"There are many means to ensure that you are provided with both medical care, critical supplies and medical supplies through the pharmacy at home, home delivery program, which we have stood up and which has now been operating for over a week."

I am staring down the barrel of the camera and saying go straight home, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday regarding travellers and confirmed cases.
I am staring down the barrel of the camera and saying go straight home, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday regarding travellers and confirmed cases.

Prof Murphy said the "great rise in cases" since Sunday's announcement was the reason the chief health officers recommended the restrictions be made clear and tightened.

"We have to get people to take this seriously," he said.

"We have to change the way we interact, as human beings, in our society, for quite a long time.

"This virus will be with us for some time."

Originally published as 'We are very worried': Australian leaders


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