Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaking in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaking in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage

Scott Morrison: 'We are on the road back'

SCOTT Morrison started his press conference by pointing out that the majority of coronavirus cases in Australia have now recovered. But he once again urged Australians not to become complacent, citing the example of Singapore.

The phrase "the road back" has featured prominently in the government's messaging during this press conference.

"There is a road back. There is a road ahead and the decisions that the National Cabinet has taken today are evidence of that," Scott Morrison said.

When he finished speaking, Health Minister Greg Hunt used it a few times as well.

"Today is an important day on the road back. There is progress on all three fronts. On containment, capacity and recovery," Mr Hunt said.

"We have to keep doing what we are doing because these measures save lives and protect lives, but they also allow us to achieve the road back at an earlier time."

Answering the first question from reporters, Mr Morrison returned to it again.

"What we have announced today is that we are on the road back thanks to Australians. We are on the road back and we want to stay on the road back," Mr Morrison said.

"About two-thirds of the cases in Australia, they have now been able to overcome and to recover from those cases," he said.

"Singapore now has, sadly, more cases than Australia after some very strong early successes. And it's a reminder that, even in a country as diligent and careful as Singapore has been, none of us can be complacent."

He directly addressed the question of when our coronavirus restrictions might start to be eased.

"For those who are asking when can we ease, well, we were clear about that last week. We laid down some clear markers as to what the requirements would be," said the Prime Minister.

"We said there needed to be an effective rate of transmission less than the score of one. And we said we need to get in place, over these four weeks that we're now in - almost one week down in that timetable - of testing, tracing and a response capability on the ground.

"National Cabinet will continue to look at those areas that may be able to be eased at the end of that period, when we look at those issues. But they are the clear markers. They are the clear prerequisites."

Mr Morrison also confirmed that restrictions on elective surgery would be lifted after the Anzac Day long weekend.

"This will not mean an immediate return to normal with elective surgery, but a gradual restart, subject of course to capacity and other constraints that may exist in each jurisdiction," he said.

"We will be easing restrictions on the following areas. That is Category 2 or equivalent procedures in the private sector, and selected Category 3 and other procedures, which includes all IVF, all screening programs, where they have ceased.

"Post-cancer restricted procedures, such as breast reconstruction, dental and Level 2 restrictions. So, such as fitting dentures, braces, non-high speed drilling and basic fillings. All procedures for children under the age of 18, all joint replacements, including knee, hips and shoulders, all cataracts and eye procedures, and endoscopy and colonoscopy."

All measures will be subjected to further review on May 11 to then determine whether all surgeries and procedures can recommence more broadly.

"This is an important decision because it marks another step on the way back," said Mr Morrison.

"There is a road back. There is a road ahead and the decisions that the National Cabinet has taken today are evidence of that."


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