Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with state and territory premiers and chief ministers on 25 March in a national cabinet to discuss enhanced health measures to support efforts to quickly conduct tests and better trace coronavirus in Australia.
Earlier in the day, Mr Morrison had said that Australia has one of the most rigorous coronavirus testing systems in the world.
To further protect Australia, National Cabinet agreed to an Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC) recommendation to expand the current coronavirus testing criteria to include testing people with fever or acute respiratory infection in:
• all health workers
• all aged/residential care workers
• geographically localised areas where there is elevated risk of community transmission as defined by the local public health unit
• where no community transmission is occurring, high risk settings where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases, for example:
– aged and residential care
– rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
– detention centres/correctional facilities
– boarding schools
– military bases (including Navy ships) that have live-in accommodation.
National Cabinet also agreed that testing will be expanded to include hospitalised patients with fever and acute respiratory symptoms of unknown cause, at the discretion of the treating clinician.
This is the minimum testing criteria. States and territories have the discretion to expand their own criteria for testing if they have capacity.
Temporary suspension of all semi-urgent elective surgery
National Cabinet endorsed the recommendation for states and territories to suspend all non-urgent elective surgery.
National Cabinet agreed to extend the deadline for the suspension of semi urgent Category 2 and 3 elective surgeries at private hospitals to 11.59pm on 1 April 2020.
National Cabinet agreed that states and territories will continue to work with private hospital groups to ensure they can support efforts to protect Australians against coronavirus.
The changes will allow greater transition for the community to the new arrangements and ensure the national supply of essential PPE – such as masks, gowns, gloves and goggles for the healthcare workforce.
Nationally consistent public directions on self-isolation for individuals
National Cabinet agreed to implement nationally consistent public health directions, at the state and territory level, on self-quarantine for individuals diagnosed with coronavirus.
The national cabinet will meet again on Friday 27 March and will consider the need for any further measures at this time.