ScoMo: Herd immunity is a ‘death sentence’


Scott Morrison has described the herd immunity strategy pursued by some countries overseas as "a death sentence" Australia will never consider.

Speaking on Ray Hadley's 2GB program, the Prime Minister said the "death and destruction" in Italy and Britain had brought those countries no closer to a situation where there is widespread immunity.

Just weeks ago, the Prime Minister said a similar outcome in Australia was a real prospect.

"This could have all happened here. We could have gone down that path,'' he said.

But he said the suppression strategy Australia had pursued was a better approach.

"This herd immunity. The idea that's some sort of path. That's a death sentence,'' he said.




The UK now has the second highest death toll in the world, with 32,313 deaths from the virus.

The government initally hoped herd immunity - which means about 60 per cent of the population are infected - would help defeat the virus before the strategy was abandoned.

There are almost 6900 confirmed cases in Australia, with the death toll at 97.

States are gradually easing restrictions, as new cases continue to drop.

But it's warned things could get a lot worse if restrictions to deal with the coronavirus stay in place.

Mr Morrison says the $4 billion-a-week cost to the economy each week from the restrictions is a very strong incentive for leaders looking at easing restrictions.

"That certainly puts enormous pressure, as it should, on the timetable as we seek to move Australia back to ... a COVID-safe economy," he said on Tuesday.

"We now need to get a million Australians back to work. That is the curve that we need to address."




Businesses are being been urged to make workplaces coronavirus-safe in preparation for a major economic restart.

National cabinet has set a July target to reignite business and industry, with federal and state leaders looking to stem the pandemic-induced economic bleeding.

JobKeeper payments for workers stood down during the outbreak began rolling out on Wednesday.

Fewer businesses than expected have signed onto the wage subsidy scheme, but the treasurer has ruled out extending the program to more ineligible workers.

"There will be some who actually say, it's too generous. It's too large," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC radio.

He also continues to insist the temporarily doubled JobSeeker payment will go back to $40 a day after the pandemic.

"I believe that Australia has a fair and decent welfare safety net." Businesses shuttered during the virus outbreak are being given industry-specific advice on how to reopen safely.

The Safe Work Australia website has been turbocharged to provide specific advice to 23 sectors across 1300 pages.

Cleaning standards and maintaining physical distancing to limit the spread of the virus are among the most important requirements.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said staggered hours were one way to reduce contact as people return to work.

Professor Murphy said cleaning products and hand sanitiser should be in workplaces, while hot-desk arrangements would need to change. He also said using video conferencing where possible and maintaining the handshake ban would be important.

Businesses will also be given advice on managing potential outbreaks and reconfiguring sites to meet health standards.

Mr Morrison stressed the importance of coronavirus-safe workplaces as the nation looks to repair economic damage.

Shutdown measures are estimated to cost $4 billion a week nationally.

"We now need to get one million Australians back to work. That is the curve we need to address," Mr Morrison said.

Some economic and social restrictions are set to be eased on Friday after the next meeting of federal and state leaders.

The prime minister has indicated governments will move towards regulating behaviour as opposed to activities.

The focus will be on social distancing measures rather than what things are banned.

There have been 97 coronavirus deaths in Australia, while more than 5800 people have recovered from the disease.

Testing rates are high with 665,000 conducted and 6849 infections detected.

- With AAP

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