Australia’s chief medical officer is feeling positive about the nation’s coronavirus case numbers and an easing of some border restrictions is on the cards.
Victoria is beginning to get its deadly second wave under control, with the state recording 73 new cases on Monday in its lowest daily increase since early July.
Victoria also recorded another 41 deaths, but only eight occurred in the past 24 hours. The remaining 33 were added to the tally after being reported to the state’s health department.
The national coronavirus death toll now stands at 652.
There were 829 new cases of the coronavirus in Australia over the past seven days compared to 1500 the week before, Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said.
The new cases are almost exclusively in Melbourne, with a few in rural Victoria and a small number in Queensland and Sydney.
“For all of those reasons I’m positive,” Professor Kelly said.
The federal government has pledged an extra $563 million to help the aged care sector as it continues to face scrutiny over the handling of outbreaks in nursing homes.
Embattled Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck is also expanding a bonus scheme designed to stop aged care staff working across multiple facilities, but is providing no guarantees.
“There are some workers we do require to work across more than one site,” Senator Colbeck told reporters on Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to pressure state governments to open their borders, saying he doesn’t want to see the current arrangements in place by Christmas.
Queensland is setting up a unit to deal with interstate residents needing to access specialist healthcare in the state after sustained criticism on the issue.
The June quarter national accounts are due on Wednesday, which are likely to confirm the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Australian economy is expected to shrink by around six per cent, the biggest hit since the late 1950s.