New virus test criteria announced

The government has announced plans to broaden the coronavirus testing criteria and to suspend some election operations to combat the pandemic.

In a statement after a further meeting of heads of state and government on Wednesday evening, the National Cabinet said that healthcare workers, geriatric nurses and people in geographically localized areas and at “high risk” are now being tested for the potentially fatal disease.

The authorities will also implement national self-quarantine instructions for people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

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After the second session of the National Cabinet this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that more Australians would be given tests as efforts to “smooth” the Coronavirus spread curve intensify and Level 2 blocking begins.

In addition to health and geriatric nurses, the statement states that the tests “are extended to hospital patients with fever and acute respiratory symptoms of unknown cause at the discretion of the attending physician.”

High risk settings were set, including: old people’s and nursing homes, rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, detention centers / prisons, boarding schools, and military bases with housing.

Tests are carried out if there are two or more plausibly linked cases in the above settings.

The National Cabinet also endorsed the recommendation for states and territories to suspend all non-urgent elective operations. The suspension period ends on April 1, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

“The changes will allow the community a better transition to the new regulations and ensure the national supply of essential PPE – such as masks, robes, gloves, and goggles for healthcare workers,” the statement said.

As of Wednesday, there were 1,029 in NSW, 466 in Victoria, 443 in Queensland, 170 in South Australia, 175 in Western Australia, 36 in Tasmania, 44 in the Australian capital and six in the northern territory.

Nine people have died – one in Western Australia, seven in NSW and one in Queensland.

There are currently two people in intensive care in Victoria – one in their thirties and one in their sixties.

With the worldwide number of coronavirus infections approaching half a million, health officials say the epidemic is still at an early stage. 85 percent of infections and deaths come from Europe and the United States.

The National Cabinet will meet again on Friday.

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