Restrictions on elective surgeries will be eased after Anzac Day, and the nation’s leaders have given in-principle support for the government’s COVID-19 tracing app, Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday.
Following the latest meeting of National Cabinet, the prime minister said roughly 25% of elective surgeries would resume from April 27, including IVF procedures and screening programs for cancer and other diseases.
“Today we agreed to lift restrictions on elective surgery after Anzac Day, after the long weekend. This will not mean an immediate return to normal with elective surgery, but a gradual restart, subject to of course to capacity and other constraints that may exist in each jurisdiction,” he said.
“One of the reasons why we have been able to do that, is the increase in the amount of personal protective equipment that we have been able to secure.”
Restrictions would also be lifted on procedures for children under the age of 18, joint replacements, post-cancer reconstructive surgeries, cataract and eye procedures, some dental procedures, and endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures.
National Cabinet also considered restrictions on visits to the elderly, and concluded that aged care homes must not ban visits, and should allow residents to receive up to two visits per day from close relatives and support people.
“There is great concern that the isolation of elderly people in residential care facilities where they have been prevented from having any visitors from loved ones and support people is not good for their well-being, is not good for their health and so the National Cabinet agreed that there needs to be a strong reminder that the National Cabinet decision was to not shut people off or to lock them away in their rooms,” the PM said.
On the issue of the federal government’s coronavirus tracing app, Morrison noted the app had received in-principle support from the National Cabinet, but was not yet ready for release.
“There are still a few more hurdles for it to clear as we address the many issues associated but it was seen as an important tool for many to help health workers in states and territories in the important work of determining contacts of those who may have been in close proximity to people who have contracted coronavirus,” he said.
The government has also processed 517,000 jobseeker claims since March 16, Morrison said.
“By the end of this week we will have processed as many jobseeker claims in six weeks than we would normally do in the entirety of the year,” he said.
“There is still work to do but having now eclipsed more than half a million people, that is obviously of great concern, that is half a million people who need that payment and support.”
The news follows reports that more than 1100 Canberra-based public servants have been redeployed to Services Australia to help deliver critical services during the coronavirus, including the jobseeker and jobkeeper payments.
National Cabinet will meet again on Friday.