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Australia’s PM talks to region heads on future travel

Scott Morrison has been under pressure for taking a holiday during thr bushfire crisis. Picture Kym Smith. Source:News Corp Australia. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

CANBERRA, Oct 11, 2020, AAP. Prime Minster Scott Morrison has been talking to a number of countries in the Pacific and Asia about future travel arrangements, Perth Now reported.

But he has warned Australians they still have to keep their guard up against the coronavirus.

“We have to go cautiously on this, very very cautiously,” he told reporters in Brisbane where he was opening a new military vehicle centre, with LNP state opposition leader Deb Frecklington by his side.

“COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s still there. It is no less aggressive today than it was six months ago.”

He said New Zealanders are on course to be the first to come to NSW, the ACT and Northern Territory, but not Queensland because of the two-week quarantine requirement that is still in place for travellers.

“When that is no longer necessary, great, I think it will be tremendous for the Queensland tourism industry that that would be possible,” he said

He said he had spoken to a number of Pacific leaders about possible travel bubbles in the past week, as well as the prime ministers of Japan and South Korea, while Foreign Minister Marise Payne had been holding talks In Singapore.

His comments came as Australia grimly edges towards 900 COVID-19 related deaths after Victoria added to its toll and Premier Daniel Andrews extended his state of emergency and state of disaster by another four weeks to November 8.

Victoria reported another death on Sunday, ending a three-day stretch without a fatality.

It takes Victoria’s death count from the virus to 810 and the national toll to 898.

There were 12 new cases reported in the state, bringing the rolling average in metropolitan Melbourne to 9.3 cases per day, while the figure for regional areas was 0.4.

Mr Andrews said the figures showed this second wave was stubborn, but he was prepared to ease some restrictions next Sunday, albeit not as big as had been hoped.

“They will be significant. And they will allow us to move more freely, they will allow us to connect more easily with those that we love the most and those that we miss the most,” he told reporters on Sunday.

But he acknowledged people were getting weary and frustrated by the restrictions.

“We all want this to be over … but we can’t pretend it is over just because we want it to be,” he said.

Meanwhile, NSW recorded five new infections of COVID-19 as a cluster at a private clinic grew and patients at a radiology practice were warned to monitor their health for symptoms.

In Queensland there were no new cases, but health authorities are urging Townsville residents to get tested after traces of the virus were detected in local sewage.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the situation in Townsville was worrying considering the city hadn’t reported a case for many weeks.

Western Australian and South Australia also each recorded two new virus cases in hotel quarantine.

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