Australia is planning to expand the screening for the coronavirus or COVID-19 after securing the 10 million testing kits on Wednesday, a measure official stated that is the key for sustaining low transmission rates and also allowing restrictions on the social movement to get eased.
The nation has credited a partial lockdown and testing while bringing the number of restrictions down to below one percent. The country of 25.7 million people has confirmed 6,700 cases of coronavirus and also 88 deaths due to the virus.
Authorities plan to use the new supply to expand testing this week to include people without systems, ramping up from around 500,000 tests conducted over the past month. "These 10 million tests will allow our state and territory public health units to be able to test right through 2020, to provide us with the capacity to contain, suppress and defeat the virus," Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.
Scott Morrison said increased testing is a prerequisite to reopening restaurants, pubs
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said increased testing is a prerequisite to reopening restaurants and pubs, lifting travel restrictions and extending the limits on the size of weddings and funerals. Some states and territories have begun to ease restrictions independently, including allowing slightly larger public gatherings and reopening beaches. But the federal government said there will not be any changes before a review on May 11.
The kits were secured from China by Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest, who sold them to the government at cost price of A$320 million ($209.18 million). In New South Wales, the country's most populous state, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wants to increased testing rates by 50% and urged care workers and anyone with the "slightest sniffle" to get tested.
State authorities will also expand testing of health workers and employees at aged care homes following an outbreak at a facility in the west of Sydney. Eleven elderly people have died from COVID-19 at Newmarch House care home after contracting the virus from an employee. Anglicare, the company in charge of the home, said on Wednesday that more deaths are likely.
Morrison said that 2.8 million Australians had downloaded a contact tracing app
Victoria, the second-most populous state, plans to open mobile units to test people in their homes, offices and while out shopping. Morrison said that 2.8 million Australians had downloaded a contact tracing app on their mobile phone, the second of his conditions for relaxing movement curbs. Morrison has said at least 40 percent of Australians will need to download the app for it to be an effective tool, though civil liberty activists have said it invades their privacy.
"If you want to return to a more liberated economy and society, it is important that we get increased numbers of downloads," Morrison said, adding only state health officials would have access to the data. The app, which is based on Singapore's TraceTogether software and uses Bluetooth signals to log when people have been close to one another, is meant to help medics trace people potentially exposed to infections. A similar app is expected to be rolled out across Britain within next few weeks, the developer said on Tuesday.
(With agency inputs)