Senate debates

Monday, 23 March 2020

Questions without Notice

Coronavirus

2:19 pm

Photo of Michaelia CashMichaelia Cash (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Molan for the question. As of Sunday morning, Australia had experienced over 1,100 cases of the coronavirus and, sadly, seven people had lost their lives. Globally we have now seen over 253,000 cases, and 11,000 lives have been lost. Our priority as a government is to flatten the curve and reduce the number of cases and delay the onset of cases.

We have established the national cabinet which, on receipt of the expert medical advice, is continuing to coordinate a national response across state and federal governments, and across party lines, in order to ensure consistency and responsiveness to this threat and the challenges it presents. We've taken further steps to enforce social distancing measures, we've implemented further travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease, and we have 130 fever clinics up and running around the country.

We are now running one of the world's leading testing programs, with just over 120,000 tests conducted in Australia, one of the highest per capita rates of testing in the world. Encouragingly, of those tests, we are receiving around a 99 per cent negative rate. Less than one per cent of people tested for coronavirus are diagnosed with the disease. We're testing more widely than almost every other country, and the breadth and depth of our response has been unmatched anywhere else in the world, other than Korea and Singapore.

Our early actions have put us well ahead of much of the rest of the world. Our early bans on arrivals from China, the bans on Iran, and the early declaration of the coronavirus pandemic potential have afforded us a valuable advantage in protecting Australians.

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