House debates

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Questions without Notice


2:30 pm

Photo of Gladys LiuGladys Liu (Chisholm, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Will the minister please update the House on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic globally and how Australia's response is helping to save and protect lives?

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Chisholm for her support for the Australian people, and particularly for the mental health of young people, throughout the course of the pandemic. One thing that really strikes all Australians is the extraordinary results here, when we look around the world. We see around the world, sadly, 121 million cases. We see, in particular, over 480,000 cases in the last 24 hours. Whilst the world had been making progress for many weeks, there has been an increase in recent days and over the last two weeks, in terms of global daily cases. That's a matter for deep concern, as we discussed yesterday with regard to Papua New Guinea. At the same time, we've seen almost 2.7 million lives lost—over 9,200 lives lost in one day across the globe to COVID-19.

In Australia, by comparison, when we compare, when we contrast, when we look at where we're at, we've had zero cases of community transmission in the last 24 hours. This is the 46th day this year of zero cases of community transmission. Thankfully, we are now again at zero Australians in intensive care. There was one, but that person has, thankfully, been able to leave ICU. And zero lives have been lost in Australia to COVID-19 for the entire 2021 year to date. That's an extraordinary, an inconceivable, an almost unimaginable result for this country. We thank all of our doctors and our nurses. We thank everybody involved—all Australians. Those twin strategies of containment and capacity have put Australia in this position, which I think we can safely say, when we look at the economic results and the health results, truly do make us the envy of the world.

We see that closing the borders, as difficult as that was, has helped save lives and protect lives; testing is at over 15 million tests; tracing has been fundamentally important; there is the work being done with regard specifically to our distancing; and then there is the build-out of our capacity, including the rollout, which has now seen more than 220,000 vaccines, growing to over 240,000 vaccines today, which is providing that confidence. Very significantly, one thing happened on the weekend. There were two cases, there were two states and no borders were closed: two cases, two states, no borders closed. That confidence in Australia is growing every single day. We've shown we've done it once. We'll continue to do it, and we'll continue to save lives and protect lives.