‘Crushed it’: Australia’s remarkable figure
Australia is close to reaching an important milestone of recording new daily coronavirus cases in single digits.
Yesterday the number of new cases of coronavirus recorded in all states and territories was just 11, as numbers have continued to steadily decline since late March.
Australia's deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said Australia had "crushed" the virus.
"It's pretty much crushed I think, is what some countries are calling what they have done," Dr Kelly said on Today.
"We set out to flatten and there were good reasons for that. Thinking about where we were just a couple of months ago in terms of this with those rapidly rising numbers, it was concerning and we really needed to do what we have done to get to where we are now.
"We are much better prepared in terms of our ability to respond to a worst case scenario, a second wave for example if that was to happen, than we were say in January."
On Thursday, Victoria recorded seven new cases of the virus, and NSW and Tasmania recorded both two new cases in their states.
In Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT no new cases of the coronavirus were recorded, and other important milestones have been achieved.
The ACT has now declared itself completely coronavirus free with all previously infected virus cases now recovered. In the NT, which hasn't recorded a new case for more than 11 days, only three people remain infected. Queensland enjoyed its fourth day of no new cases on Thursday.
In South Australia health authorities have managed to go for more than a week without detecting a single case of the virus in the community.
On Friday NSW recorded another nine cases of coronavirus.
South Australia has much to celebrate after being hit with a large cluster of cases in the Barossa Valley area at the end of March. The 34 cases of COVID-19 across a number of towns led authorities to clamp down quickly on travel in the area, close some schools and urge residents to seek out testing.
While the federal government remains cautious, states and territories are responding to what appears to be an overall pattern of reliable declines in cases, and Australia is poised to ease restrictions across a number of states.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged a national cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders in mid-May as crucial to lifting some social and economic clamps.
Pubs and restaurants will reopen across the NT on May 15, while golf, tennis, fishing or swimming with other people will be allowed from Friday. The initial stage of easing restrictions will also lift the ban on outdoor weddings and funerals.
The NT's eased rules could provide a blueprint for other jurisdictions due to make critical decisions about restarting economic and social activity.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it was time for national cabinet and health experts to have a fresh look at future scenarios.
"We have been working on a suppression strategy, on a flatten the curve strategy, not really on a elimination strategy," she told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
"But now we have got to a point where we are very close to very few active cases in the whole of Australia."
Queensland will ease rules around going for a drive and non-essential shopping being relaxed this weekend.
Tasmania's new cases are linked to a recent outbreak that affected hospital workers in the state's north west.
Twelve of the island's 13 COVID-19 deaths have been in the northwest and two thirds of its overall 221 cases are linked to the cluster, which is believed to have originated from the ill-fated Ruby Princess cruise ship. The only death in the south of the state was also a Ruby Princess passenger who died in the Royal Hobart Hospital.
The outbreak forced authorities to close Burnie's North West Regional Hospital and its private counterpart on April 13 and put 1200 workers in quarantine. The outbreak in Tasmania saw 73 healthcare workers infected.
An interim report, released on Thursday, found the source of the virus cluster was two elderly Ruby Princess passengers who were admitted in late March and later died.
Testing, contract tracing and the capacity to respond to outbreaks are considered key benchmarks in edging back towards normal life. Australia has conducted 566,000 tests and 20,000 nurses have trained to work in intensive care, with a further 3000 recently out of the job completing a refresher course.
In Australia a total 6754 people have been infected with coronavirus.
Of those infected, 92 people have died.
Originally published as 'Crushed it': Australia's remarkable figure