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PM, premiers plot national strategy to solve Victoria's crisis

Politics

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with state and territory leaders today to look at the national impact of the Victorian coronavirus outbreak.

 

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On Thursday five deaths were recorded, taking the toll to 133.

As well, the number of active cases across the nation appears to be trending back towards where it was in April.

Victoria recorded 403 new cases on Thursday, as it imposed mandatory mask-wearing in greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, and cracked down on those not properly undertaking social distancing.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the situation in his home state was scary.

“If you’ve got family in aged care or if you’re in aged care, if you work in aged care, it is utterly terrifying,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.

“Now is the moment to try and work together to get through this.”

New Treasury figures show the Victorian lockdown is expected to cost the national economy $3.3 billion, presuming the measures only last six weeks.

State and territory leaders will be briefed via videoconference on other aspects of the economic meltdown, spelled out in the federal government’s economic and fiscal update on Thursday.

Treasury expects to see government debt exceed $850 billion and the federal budget hit a $184.5 billion deficit by the end of this financial year.

These estimates rely on Victoria sticking to six-week lockdowns and international borders reopening in January.

The unemployment rate is expected to peak at 9.25 per cent before Christmas, leaving another 240,000 people out of work.

The leaders will also be briefed on the timetable for easing restrictions and local outbreak planning.

Queensland has now identified Fairfield in Sydney’s southwest as a virus hotspot and has closed its border to people from that area unless they quarantine for 14 days.

Leaders hold concerns about the situation in Victoria, where almost 90 per cent of people who caught the disease over the past two weeks did not self-isolate between feeling sick and getting tested.

And more than half didn’t stay at home while waiting for their results.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says staying home from work and isolating when ill or showing symptoms are critical to protecting the community and stemming the virus’ spread.

Some states are reassessing the timing of the reopening of businesses and community activities.

The national cabinet is also expected to deal with the issues of Indigenous wellbeing and an overhaul of the way major projects receive environmental approval.

-AAP

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