SYDNEY, Apr 16 (Reuters) – Australia will maintain restrictions on public mobility for at least four more weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Thursday, bucking speculation that low growth in new cases in the country could fuel a faster return to normality.
Australia has avoided the high number of coronavirus victims that have been reported in other countries around the world after closing its borders and imposing strict social distancing measures in the past month.
Restaurants, bars and other “non-essential” businesses have been closed and public gatherings of more than two people have been banned under the threat of fines and even prison. These measures are expected to double the country’s unemployment rate by the middle of the year.
With these measures, the daily rate of new confirmed infections has stabilized below 5%, compared to 25% several weeks ago, for a total of 6,500 infections and 63 deaths.
Still, Morrison said the rules will not be relaxed until the country’s capacity to test is increased, tracking of known cases of COVID-19 intensifies and a response is prepared for any future outbreaks.
(Information from Colin Packham in Sydney, additional information from Byron Kaye; translated by Tomás Cobos)