News National Authorities to discuss easing coronavirus restrictions

Authorities to discuss easing coronavirus restrictions

Dr Paul Kelly confirmed leaders will discuss how to implement the next phase of restrictions. Photo: AAP
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Australians may soon get the green light to gather in groups of more than 100, as health authorities prepare to debate lifting coronavirus restrictions. 

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee will meet on Monday to discuss “stage three and beyond”, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has confirmed. 

The committee will take into account the Black Lives Matter rallies that occurred across Australia on the weekend when assessing the national cabinet’s three-step plan for states and territories to wind back restrictions, Dr Kelly said.

“At the moment, it won’t change how we are viewing those processes, but in particular states it may do, depending what happens in relation to (any) cases that crop up,” he said.

Newspoll: Morrison maintains lead

Meanwhile, voters remain approving of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The latest Newspoll, released late Sunday night by The Australian, shows the Coalition preserving its two-party-preferred lead over Labor.

Popular support for the Coalition dropped a point to 42 per cent while Labor’s primary vote also dropped a point to 34 per cent, delivering the Coalition an unchanged lead of 51-49 based on preferences.

Mr Morrison’s satisfaction level remains unchanged at 66 per cent and his disapproval level has fallen a point to 29 per cent.

These are the highest prolonged numbers for a prime minister since the early days of Labor PM Kevin Rudd’s first term in government.

Mr Morrison strengthened his position as preferred prime minister over Labor rival Anthony Albanese, retaining 56 per cent support against 26 per cent for Mr Albanese who dropped three points.

Leaders cautioned amid concerns death toll may not tell full story

The confirmed global death toll from the COVID-19 virus has reached at least 400,000 fatalities a day after the government of Brazil broke with standard public health protocols by ceasing to publish updates of the number of deaths and infections in the hard-hit country.

Worldwide, at least 6.9 million people had been infected by the virus as of Monday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Health experts, however, believe that that tally – being used worldwide to measure the spread of the virus – falls short of showing the true tragedy of the pandemic.

Many governments have struggled to produce statistics that can reasonably be considered as true indicators of the pandemic given the scarcity of diagnostic tests especially in the first phase of the crisis.

Authorities in Italy and Spain, with more than 60,000 combined deaths, have acknowledged that their death count is larger than the story the numbers tell.

But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro went as far as to tweet on Saturday that his country’s disease totals are “not representative” of Brazil’s current situation, insinuating that the numbers were actually overestimating the spread of the virus.

Critics of Mr Bolsonaro said the decision was a manoeuvre by the leader to hide the depths of crisis.

Brazil’s last official numbers recorded more than 34,000 virus-related deaths, the third-highest toll in the world behind the US and the UK.

John Hopkins’ running counter puts the United States at the top of the list of most-impacted nations, with nearly 110,000 confirmed virus-related deaths there.

Europe as a whole has recorded more than 175,000 fatalities since the virus was first detected in China late last year.

-with AAP