PM says COVIDSafe app "the ticket" to easing restrictions

PM says COVIDSafe app "the ticket" to easing restrictions

Every Australian is familiar with "Slip! Slop! Slap!" to stay sun-safe when they want to go outside. Now Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants the public to view the COVIDSafe app in the same way if they want to see the sunlight of a liberated economy. 

The PM has today thanked the 2.8 million Australians who have so far downloaded the COVID-19 tracing app, claiming its downloads will be "the ticket to ensuring that we can have eased restrictions".

To be effective, around 40 per cent of the population needs to use the app, or around 10 million people.

"I'd ask for millions and millions and millions more to do the same thing - this is an important protection for a COVID-safe Australia," the PM said in a press conference this morning.

"If you downloaded the app, thank you very much. Convince two or three more people that haven't downloaded the app to do the same thing."

"I would liken it to the fact that if you want to go outside, when the sun is shining, you've got to put sunscreen on. This is the same thing; Australians want to return to community sport, you want to return to a more liberated economy and society."

He said claiming success after "just having a low number of cases" would not be good enough, and the country still needed to have the protections in place to enable Australians to go back to "as normal a life and economy as possible".

"We don't want to just win the battle against COVID-19 but lose the broader conflict when it comes to our broader economy and the function of our society. That's why we remain focused on the road ahead."

He added more than 800,000 JobSeeker claims have now been processed, and is likely to be well over that by the end of today. 

The Prime Minister's plea to get Australians using COVIDSafe comes as 15 new cases of COVID-19 are confirmed nationally, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 6,744.

There has been one new death (89 in total) and 10 recoveries confirmed today, meaning 5,640 people have recovered from the coronavirus.

Mental health update

A national mental health crisis has also been flagged today, with National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan saying there has been a spike in distress and anxiety levels across the population.

This is exemplified by a 40 per cent increase in contacts to mental health organisation Beyond Blue.

Despite more Australians reaching out to these types of organisations Morgan says there has actually been a decrease in the use of mental health services overall, which can be attributed largely to Australians being reluctant to leave the house to visit a psychologist or psychiatrist.

To combat this Morgan is encouraging mental health service providers to implement telehealth into their practice to enable patients to attend appointments from home.

She said the percentage of psychologists using telehealth has now increased to above the 50 per cent mark.

Updated at 11:35am AEST on 29 April 2020. 

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