LIVE: PM'S update on coronavirus pandemic



National Cabinet has agreed to a set of "COVID-19 Safe Workplace" principles.

"This is all about getting Australians back to work and ensuring that, when they go back to work, that they and their families can feel safe," Scott Morrison said.

"It's to ensure that there are important principles in place, there are protocols and procedures that, should a COVID-19 case present in a workplace, then the rules that people need to follow."

On schools, Scott Morrison said the four square metre rule, and 1.5-metre distancing between students during classroom activities, "is not appropriate and not required".

"I can't be more clear than that. The advice cannot be more clear than that. The 1.5-metre in classrooms, and the four square metre rule, is not a requirement of the expert medical advice in classrooms."

Australia firmly in 'third phase'

The Prime Minister outlined the three different phases of the outbreak that Australia has experienced so far. We are now firmly in what he calls the "community phase".

"We've moved through many phases of this virus," Mr Morrison said.

"The first phase is what I'd call the 'export phase'. That's when the virus was first exported, transmitted out of China into many countries around the world.

"And in that first phase, Australia moved very quickly to put in place the restrictions of travel into Australia, and then the excellent work done by particularly the Chinese Australian community here meant that Australia was substantively protected from that first export wave of the virus across the world.

"The second, where Australia was more significantly impacted, is what I'd call the 'repatriation phase'. The repatriation of Australian residents and citizens to Australia, as they returned from many parts of the world where they became exposed and they brought it home to Australia.

"We saw many, many internationally acquired cases, and more than two-thirds at certain times of the total number of cases in Australia. And that's why we put in place the quarantine arrangements. That's why we put the restrictions in place.

"And you've seen the evidence of those measures, as we've seen the curve flatten and the number of cases additional each day reduced to the levels you're now seeing.

"We are now in that third phase which we have to protect against. That's the 'community phase', where the virus actually moves within our own community.

"That requires particularly different tools, building on the ones that we already have in place. And that is the testing, that is the tracing, and that is the rapid response.

"We now have to be wary against community transmission, and so we are dealing with that third wave of the virus."

Tracing app 'not far away'

The much-discussed coronavirus tracing app still isn't ready, but Scott Morrison said it was "not far away".

"We're making great progress," he said.

"The app will soon by released. There are still some issues we're working through late in the piece, which is to be expected. We're not too far away now.

"Earlier this week, as I indicated to you, it received the in principle support of the National Cabinet, and we have been taking that through its final stages in recent days."

Wearing masks 'not necessary'

Scott Morrison said National Cabinet had accepted the advice of the medical expert panel that "it is not recommended" that masks are "necessary to be worn".

"It's important to note that the wearing of such a mask does not protect you from an infection, but if you are displaying respiratory symptoms then it is, at best, a measure that prevents you transferring it to others," said the Prime Minister.

"It's not about protecting you from infection. But that's why, when people were leaving airports and things of that nature, they were wearing them to prevent the transmission."


A driver displays his updated Border Entry Pass into Queensland after being stopped by Queensland Police officers for entry at the QLD / NSW border check point into Queensland on Griffith Street Coolangatta. Photo: Scott Powick Newscorp
A driver displays his updated Border Entry Pass into Queensland after being stopped by Queensland Police officers for entry at the QLD / NSW border check point into Queensland on Griffith Street Coolangatta. Photo: Scott Powick Newscorp

'Good progress' has been made

Scott Morrison says National Cabinet "noted the good progress that has been made" in Australia's response to the coronavirus.

"Those areas, in particular, where it's good to receive the reports are the expansion of the testing regimes that are being employed in all states and territories," he said.

Mr Morrison pointed to New South Wales, which is now encouraging anyone with symptoms of the virus to get tested.

"You would have heard from NSW earlier today, and what they're achieving there, but this is occurring right around the country," he said.

"This is a very important pillar of how we will be dealing with this virus going forward into the future. We already have one of the most, if not most, comprehensive testing regimes in the world, and this is a key, a key tool for us going forward."