Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Photo Credit: Twitter: Scott Morrison)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said Australia has taken the global lead in terms of testing people for the novel coronavirus as over one per cent of the country's population has been tested for the virus which has killed over 40,000 people globally. Nationally, over 5,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported and 24 people have died.
With over 260,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out across the country, Morrison said "We are the first country, to the best of our knowledge, that has been able to exceed that mark." Those testing levels equate to more than 1 per cent of the population, he said while giving the health crisis updates.
"The testing resources that we are putting in place have been absolutely fundamental to our tracing... to ensure that we can restrain the growth and the spread of the virus," he said. "Those testing figures are the result of some incredible work that has been done by the health ministers, the securing of the testing materials themselves, and their application right across the country," Morrison said.
"It has been an extraordinary, mammoth testing effort and that has put Australia on top when it comes to ensuring we have the best information on tracking this virus."
The bulk of Australiaâs deaths from coronavirus have been in New South Wales. That state is also home to about half of the nationâs total number of coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, Morrison released a video message urging Australians to collectively fight the crisis stating that it would be needed for "months and years" once the country enters the recovery phase.
He said the unprecedented 130 billion Australian dollars in wage subsidies that was announced this week was "an incredible amount" but proof the government would do whatever was necessary to ensure workers and business bounce back. On Monday, Morrison announced a historic wage subsidy to almost six million workers who would receive a flat payment of 1,500 Australian dollars per fortnight through their employer, before tax.
The new payment scheme will help keep Australians in jobs as tackle the significant economic impact from the coronavirus, he said adding that the payment will be open to eligible businesses that receive a significant financial hit caused by the coronavirus. According to estimates by the Johns Hopkins University, confirmed coronavirus cases across the world now stand at over 932,600 and over 42,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, scientists in Australia said on Thursday they have begun testing two potential vaccines for COVID-19 in âmilestoneâ lab trials. The scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said they are testing the COVID-19 vaccine candidates for efficacy.
They are also evaluating the best way to give the vaccine for better protection, including an intra-muscular injection and innovative approaches like a nasal spray. "We have been studying SARS CoV-2 since January and getting ready to test the first vaccine candidates as soon as they are available," Professor Trevor Drew, Director of Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) said in a statement.