AUSTRALIA’s worst flu pandemic is finally over after five weeks of a milder, but still deadly, strain.
More than 2.5 million people have been confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which is being spread more slowly through a weakened strain than previous outbreaks.
The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show more than 4 million people are expected to be infected by the flu this year.
The government has declared a public health emergency and declared a state of emergency, meaning those in Australia are to be quarantined for six months while health officials work out how to handle the virus in the community.
It’s a move that’s been welcomed by many, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has called the pandemic “the greatest public health challenge we have ever faced”.
The ABC’s chief political correspondent Tom Gorman has been tracking the crisis with an eye towards what comes next for the country.
It’s not the first time Mr Turnbull has called for people to stay home, but this year it’s a much longer time than any other.
“I’ve been through a lot in terms of politics.
You’ve got to keep calm, keep your head down, do the job.
This is not about me.
This isn’t about you,” he told a group of Australian journalists.”
This is about what we can do to make sure that people stay home.”
How can the government cope with the coronas?
Amber Rudd’s government has been in power since November and has been accused of failing to act quickly enough.
The National Health Minister Dr Andrew Colvin says the government is taking the threat of the flu seriously, with the government working with community partners to plan for the next phase of the pandemics spread.
“The Government has taken very serious, very specific, very clear, very urgent action on influenza, and we are very, very proud of it,” he said.
“It’s very important to recognise that influenza is a very, really serious disease, but we are doing all we can to protect people, to support communities, to ensure that the people that need the most help, the most support are the people in the hardest hit communities.”
He says the Government has made significant changes to its health services, with more people being taken to hospital for tests.
“In the past, there has been a level of complacency about influenza, that’s the biggest problem with the pandems, because the majority of people that we see in hospital with influenza have a cold or flu,” Dr Colvin said.
But he says it’s the government’s commitment to work with community members to ensure the community stays safe that has seen the country through this pandemic.
“We’ve made significant commitments to ensure communities stay safe.
That means, first and foremost, ensuring that there is an understanding that there are some things that we can all agree on, and then there are things that people need to be aware of, so that people are prepared,” he added.”
Secondly, it’s really important to remember that we have a national response, and our commitment is to respond as quickly as we possibly can, but there are also certain things that need to happen, and that’s why we’ve made this very,very deliberate decision.”
How does the government keep track of the new pandemic?
The government says the coronatas are being tracked and analysed to ensure people can stay safe, and says it has an “ongoing, collaborative” partnership with community health workers to support them.
Mr Turnbull says he’s pleased with the response from local community leaders, but also wants to see the numbers of people who have been affected stay stable.
“That’s the number that really matters,” he says.
“If people are not being monitored, it will lead to a lack of confidence in the response of our community.”
How much is the virus worth?
The ABC has looked at the costs of the virus and the costs and benefits of keeping people in Australia, but will give you a more in-depth analysis of the issue later this week.
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