Health Officer sees no medical reason for border closures


Deputy Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly has said he can't see any medical reason why borders are still closed around Australia.

But he stressed the decision to open borders remained with the states and territories who made the decisions to close them in the first place.

"We made no decisions or advice in relation to that. It was made by the states and territories themselves.

"If we look at the situation now, several of those states and territories have not had any cases for the last few days," he said.

"From a medical point of view I can't see why the borders are still closed but, as I said, that's for the states and territories themselves to decide when that time is right for them," Professor Kelly said.

He made the comments at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon, where he announced Australia now has 650 active cases.


The app only relies on Bluetooth, not GPS as some feared.
The app only relies on Bluetooth, not GPS as some feared.



Professor Kelly has said the COVIDSafe app is now working "as designed", despite reports this week that the data still hasn't been accessed by most state health authorities.

"The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has undertaken comprehensive testing on a technical nature and can confirm the functionality of the app on a range of devices, operating systems and manufacturers of phones," Professor Kelly said.

The main concern was on Apple's iPhones.

The DTA CEO Randall Brugeaud told a senate committee earlier this month the app gets progressively worse the longer it's not open in the foreground and the agency was waiting to implement a new contact tracing system being worked on by Apple and Google.

On Wednesday morning Victorian authorities revealed they'd accessed the contact tracing data to trace contacts from a confirmed case.

Professor Kelly said the app will become increasingly important as lockdown restrictions begin easing around the country.

"The app will really come into its own if, as we open up the economy and society over the coming weeks, we do start to see cases here and there or indeed clusters of cases as we've seen recently in Melbourne and that will be where it will be absolutely a very useful as part of the contact tracing exercise by our disease detectives in state and territory public health units," Professor Kelly said.

Professor Kelly said he does expect to see more cases as things start to go back to normal.

"We've talked a lot in the past about what we are trying to achieve here in Australia, which is that suppression approach where we are not looking to achieve elimination, even though in some states that seems it may actually have occurred at the moment.

"I believe as we open up the economy and society, we may well see more cases. We have designed a system and strengthened that system to find cases quickly.

Almost 6 million people have downloaded the app.




Professor Kelly said Australia's 100th coronavirus death provides an opportunity to "reflect" on the ongoing pandemic as restrictions begin to ease.

"That's just a number to us that are counting it but for so many people that are associated with those, that have lost their lives, I really want to add my condolences to others that have made that observation.

"These are real people with real families, friends and loved ones and so it's a sad day for us to reflect about that. Of course, we're in a much better situation than many other countries in the world in relation to both the number of cases as well as deaths. So that's very fortunate for most of us," Professor Kelly said.

There are currently 650 active cases in Australia.

45 are in hospital and nine of them are in intensive care, with seven on ventilators.