Premier addresses concerns on schools staying open as virus count rises

- March 18, 2020 3 MIN READ

The NSW State Premier and SA Premier have leapt to the PM’s defence over growing concerns amongst the general public at schools remaining open.

In a press conference today Premier Gladys Berejiklian stressed it is the position of COAG and health officials that schools should remain open.
“I know there has been some concern expressed by some people about that policy. I want to stress we believe strongly, as state leaders, as the Prime Minister has stated, the best option for schools is that they stay open.
“As the New South Wales Premier, I also want to state to the community that we are in lock step on every decision we need to take moving forward.
“If there are new decisions we need to take, we will take them. You will have notice. There is no reason to feel overly concerned or anxious about what is around the corner. We will make sure we talk to you regularly so that you are aware of what is coming up and what decisions are likely to come out.
Berijiklian urged people to remain calm and not feel anxious by announcements as the health and safety of the community was the government’s priority.
“Please be confident that we will be open and transparent with you. Please be confident that we will tell you exactly what we know, when we know it. Please also be assured that every decision we take is in the best interests of our community. It is to keep people safe and it is to make sure people feel comfortable with what they can do in a safe way,” Berejiklian said.
SA Premier Steven Marshall suggested any notion of closing schools for just a couple of weeks was ridiculous and that the current measures are about ensuring public health and safety and Australians should expect them to remain for upward of six months.
“It’s been absolutely ridiculous recently to have suggestions that we close the schools for two weeks. And Prof Brendan Murphy specifically addressed this. What’s the point of closing for two weeks? What happens at the end of those two weeks?
“These restrictions that we’re looking at putting in place now are not in for one or two weeks, they’re not in for one or two months – the expectation now is that these will remain in place for six months or more.
In today’s press conference with the PM, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy reiterated any measures to contain the virus must be sustainable.
” To be clear, a short-term 2-4 week shutdown of society is not recommended by any of our experts. It does not achieve anything. We have to be in this for the long haul.
“As the Prime Minister said, it could be six months or more that we have to practice these new ways of interacting. So, therefore our measures have to be sustainable. There is no way that we can lock down society and make everyone stay home and then in a month’s time, undo that because the virus will just flare up again without any real long-term benefit.
 “So we have to have sustainable measures, but they have to be serious measures. They have to be effective.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Health reports positive diagnoses have again increased overnight.

As of 6.30am on 18 March 2020, there have been454 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. There have been 40 new cases since 3.00pm yesterday.

Location Confirmed cases*
Australian Capital Territory 2
New South Wales 210
Northern Territory 0
Queensland 78
South Australia 32
Tasmania 7
Victoria 94
Western Australia 31
Total** 454
  • *Note that under National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System reporting requirements, cases are reported based on their Australian jurisdiction of residence rather than where they were detected. For example, a case reported previously in the NT in a NSW resident is counted in the national figures as a NSW case.
  • **Includes Diamond Princess repatriation cases: Qld (3), SA (1), Vic (4), WA (2, including 1 death)

Case details

Of the 454 confirmed cases in Australia, 43 have recovered and 5 have died from COVID-19.

228 cases were considered to be overseas acquired. Most of the overseas cases were acquired in the USA, Iran, Italy and the UK.

62 cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The likely place of exposure for 138 reported cases is under investigation.

The source of infection for 26 cases is currently unknown.

Further information regarding the epidemiology of cases in Australia is provided in the weekly epidemiology reports.

An 86 year old NSW man is the sixth person in Australia to die from the coronavirus. This marks the fifth death in NSW.

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