Jacinda Ardern joins national cabinet meeting as Australia, New Zealand share coronavirus strategy

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New Zealand PM will join meeting with Scott Morrison and state premiers on Tuesday, as Covid-19 cases dwindle in both countries

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, will join Tuesday’s meeting of Australia’s national cabinet to discuss approaches to managing the coronavirus and Australia’s CovidSafe app.

Scott Morrison, who has been in regular dialogue with leaders during the pandemic, invited Ardern to join Tuesday’s national cabinet discussion with state premiers last week. Morrison and the premiers will meet twice this week to consider easing some of the restrictions imposed to flatten the curve of infections, with announcements expected on Friday.

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World news | The Guardian

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, will join Tuesday’s meeting of Australia’s national cabinet to discuss approaches to managing the coronavirus and Australia’s CovidSafe app.

Scott Morrison, who has been in regular dialogue with leaders during the pandemic, invited Ardern to join Tuesday’s national cabinet discussion with state premiers last week. Morrison and the premiers will meet twice this week to consider easing some of the restrictions imposed to flatten the curve of infections, with announcements expected on Friday.

Australia and New Zealand have both deployed successful strategies to manage the pandemic, although New Zealand’s lockdown has been more stringent than Australia’s.

New Zealand on Monday reported no new cases of Covid-19 for the first time in a month. The country has recently eased restrictions from level four to level three.

Ardern said in late April community transmission had now ceased in New Zealand. But she said isolated cases would continue to pop up and would continue “being stamped out” until a vaccine was found.

Last week, Morrison said he had been in dialogue with Ardern about relaxing travelling restrictions between the two countries.

“If there’s any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand,” Morrison told reporters on Thursday.

“We have similar trajectories. Their restrictions have been far greater. Our [coronavirus] case response has been the same, if not better, than New Zealand.”

Morrison has been keen to project that Australia is now on a path to easing some of the domestic restrictions to enforce social distancing, and has also pressed for school students to return to classroom learning.

The states have hastened slowly on reopening schools, with Victoria refusing to switch course until the state has conducted mass testing over the next week.

The federal education minister, Dan Tehan, launched a swingeing political attack on the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, on Sunday, accusing him of taking a “sledgehammer” to education.

Tehan withdrew his comments a couple of hours later after Victoria queried whether he had overstepped the mark, and announced it would close a school campus because a teacher had returned a positive test for Covid-19. The federal education minister later blamed the outburst on “frustration”.

The closure of schools has been a persistent source of tension between the jurisdictions, but Andrews told reporters in Melbourne on Monday the national cabinet continued to work well, was taking the advice of “experts” and would not let “personal frustrations” get in the way of good decision-making.

“Comments were made yesterday morning, a statement was issued, that was the end of the matter as far as I was concerned ... while they were out doing that, I tell you what we were doing – testing 13,000 people,” Andrews said Monday morning.

He told reporters he had not heard from Tehan, but was “not particularly worried” about him either.

Andrews also confirmed there was a new cluster of Covid-19 infections at a meat processing facility in Victoria.


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