Australian Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has bluntly defended the government’s approach to curbing the coronavirus, saying that a short-term shutdown would “do nothing” and that measures should be “sustainable” for at least six months.
Professor Murphy appeared with Scott Morrison at a press conference in Canberra this morning, where the Prime Minister announced strict new rules to slow the spread of the virus.
Most importantly, the government has increased its “no travel” travel advice to the whole world and banned all non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more.
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It is noteworthy, however, that schools remain open despite strong criticism from some parts of the community. Mr. Morrison addressed this issue directly, stressing that school closures are now unsustainable.
“Whatever we do, we have to do it for at least six months,” he said.
“This means that the disruption that would result from the closure of schools in this country would be serious without mistakes.
“What do I mean by difficult? Tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, if not more. Our Impact on Health Care Availability – A 30% influence on health care availability is our advice. That will endanger people’s lives.
“Let us keep our heads as parents when it comes to that. Let us do the right thing for the country and for each other and follow the right advice. There is a national public interest in keeping schools open and we advise that this is not at the expense of a child’s health.
“At the moment, this is the advice and we need to make sure that when we implement these scalable and sustainable measures, we do things that improve the situation, do not worsen the situation and reduce our ability to deal with it. ”
Prof. Murphy confirmed this argument when he spoke a short time later and bluntly rejected the idea of a “short-term shutdown” in Australia.
“None of our experts recommend closing the company for two to four weeks at short notice. Nothing is achieved, ”he said.
“We want to be there in the long run. As the Prime Minister said, it could take six months or more for us to practice these new types of interaction. That is why our measures must be sustainable.
“There is no way to block society and get everyone to stay at home and then undo it in a month because the virus just flares up with no real long-term benefit. We have to take sustainable action. “
Prof. Murphy also responded directly to the government’s decision to keep schools open.
“I want to go to schools specifically,” he said.
“In China, only 2.4 percent of the cases reported in Hubei Province were among people under the age of 19. Children have very, very few cases of clinical illness and, if so, even more serious illness.
“This is very different from influenza and other respiratory diseases, which are sometimes very serious in children.
“We firmly believe that it is currently in the best interest of our children and the nation to keep schools open.
“There may be times when there is a major outbreak in a community that may require some school closures. However, we currently believe that schools throughout the community should remain open.”
In general, he urged all Australians to pay attention to effective social distance when interacting with other people.
“It is the responsibility of each and every Australian to practice good social distancing. Keep away from each other whenever possible. Practice really good hand hygiene – wash your hands with soap and water at every opportunity,” said Prof. Murphy.
Mr. Morrison raised the question of school closure when he asked reporters’ questions and cited the example of Singapore, which successfully contained the virus despite the open schools.
“The Health Council says schools should remain open,” the prime minister was saying.
“Singapore did the same. Singapore was one of the most successful countries. Schools are open in Singapore. “
He said the health council was supported by all prime ministers, all prime ministers and his government.
“There are a number of reasons for this,” he said. “The first is that the virus works very differently in younger people.
“It manifests itself differently in younger people and presents the general population with a completely different health challenge.
“When it comes to the health and well-being of our children, many of us are parents here, and obviously we are concerned about the health of our children and the health advice that I like to follow for my children, for Jenny and for my children. is the same health advice that I ask all other parents across the country to follow.
“We all love our children and there is nothing we would not do for them. I tell you that as a father I am happy that my children go to school.”