16 April 2020

Canberrans to be locked down for at least another month

| Dominic Giannini
Join the conversation
Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the current lockdown measures will be in place for at least the next month. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Canberrans are set to endure at least another month in lockdown after a National Cabinet decision to maintain the current COVID-19 suppression measures.

Suppression of COVID-19 remains the primary focus of governments as Australia continues to flatten the curve and our health capacity is ramped up

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the measures will be reviewed in two to three weeks, but no changes to the policy will be made until at least mid-May.

“We will continue to make these decisions based on expert health advice and through the policymaking framework of the National Cabinet,” he said.

“Consistency [will be sought] as much as possible within the Canberra region, so collaboration with the NSW Government will underpin our local public health response.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said restrictions would not be eased until a broader testing regime, better tracing ability and an increased local response capacity are in place.

Mr Morrison lauded state and territory health authorities for their work on testing and contact tracing – with modelling showing 92 per cent of symptomatic cases are being caught – but said Australia’s capacity had to improve before moving forward.

“We need the ability to move very fast and lockdown an outbreak where it occurs so it does not transmit more broadly,” he said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy reiterated this point, saying the federal medical advisory body is not confident enough to provide the government with a guarantee that our public healthcare system could handle an outbreak.

“We cannot afford to relax until we have a public health system which is so finely tuned that it can detect and respond to any outbreak,” he said.

“Our public health system is one of the best in the world, but we just have to hold the course while we get ourselves completely ready so that we can live through these next difficult months together.”

Mr Barr said the current lockdown measures are needed to buy our health system valuable time down the track.

“One of the things that we are doing successfully at the moment through our suppression of the virus is buying time for more equipment to be manufactured locally, within Australia, but also to be imported from offshore.

“This boost in the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be essential to undertake more activities in the health system and respond to the pandemic in future stages.

“It is so important that we continue our collective efforts as a community to slow the spread of the virus in order to buy our health system time to acquire that equipment – to have it produced and to have it available for our health professionals.”

The lifting of measures may also be based on the willingness of Canberrans to sign up to a tracking app that will allow the government – with permission – to trace their movements.

“We really do need to have a discussion about the nature of [contact tracing] technology and people’s willingness to voluntarily utilise it,” Mr Barr said.

“In Singapore, where the technology is currently being utilised, it has a take-up rate of 20 per cent. The advice we have is that you would need at least 40 per cent to utilise it to make it worthwhile.

“It is a question for Australians, would they be prepared to sign up to such a technology? Time will tell.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Our ancestors, the ones we are supposed to commemorate and thank on Anzac Day, died fighting for the freedoms we are now letting Barr take away. This coronavirus is simply delusional mass hysteria. A panpanic.

Barr, plus Morrison, plus all the other state leaders, plus most of the leaders in the world, except maybe Trump.

Yup it is all Barr’s fault, all fake news and all a sham.

I really do wonder.

As I understand it, ‘flatten the curve” does not mean eliminating the virus, but extending the transmission timeline. Does it ultimately mean less people die (taking system overload out of the equation)?

If/once curve is flattened, and the assessment is that medical system capacity is in place, don’t we then ease up on restrictions, particularly for lower risk groups?

Those advocating for sitting at home until (or if) a vaccine is developed also need to start modeling the impacts of this approach. And those impacts won’t just be in $$. The $$ impacts are the most obvious.

And $750 a week does not cover basic living costs for many who have been stood down.

The concern for privacy reflected in many comments suggests an over estimation of the self importance of those making such comments. Unless you’re a terrorist or other criminal, nobody cares who you associate with, least of all any government or bureaucrat. Put aside the paranoia, sign up and uninstall once the pandemic has passed. Let’s use all the tools at our disposal to overcome this calamity as well as provide some personal protection through awareness.

I don’t mind being traced as long as it’s optional, it’s not like I’m going anywhere anyway.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.