Australian government dismisses former PM’s call to lift coronavirus restrictions

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Medical workers treat a COVID-19 patient at the coronavirus unit in Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, Bnei Brak, April 13, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
(Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Australian government has distanced itself from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who has called for coronavirus restrictions to be relaxed.

Mathias Cormann, the minister for finance, said on Wednesday that Abbott’s comments do not represent the views of the government he led from 2013 to 2015.

It comes after Abbott used a speech in London to question the strategy of preserving “almost every life at almost any cost,” urging governments to consider “uncomfortable questions” about the number of deaths they are prepared to live with.

In response, Cormann described Abbott as a “distinguished former PM” but said he was “obviously not taking direct responsibility for the affairs of our nation.”

“The Australian government, working with states and territories governments, has been totally committed to suppressing the spread of this virus, to protect people’s health as well as to protect people’s livelihoods,” Cormann told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Australia’s coronavirus death toll increased by six on Wednesday to 663 with all six new deaths in Victoria, the hardest-hit state by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Wednesday afternoon there have been 25,923 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours is 109, according to the latest figures from Department of Health.

Of the new cases, Victoria confirmed 90. It marks the first time that the state has had fewer than 100 new cases for three consecutive days since July 3.

New South Wales confirmed 17 new cases and there were another two new cases in Queensland.

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