Scott Morrison Threatens Schools Could Close For A Year Over Coronavirus Inaction
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned schools could be closed for the entire year if Australians don't co-operate with authorities to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The prime minister is meeting with state and territory leaders on Sunday night to discuss further measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, including the possible closure of schools.
Victorian schools are set to close on Tuesday, with the state bringing forward the Easter holiday break.
Other states and territories are open to the idea but have not finalised any decisions.
Morrison said current medical advice was that closing schools would not be useful as it would lead to problems in securing enough doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
However, he said the states and territories could be forced to take "severe measures" if Australians continued to ignore warnings to maintain safe distances from other people, stay home from work if sick, and limit travel.
"If there is not a broad co-operation in the population ... states will have to take more severe measures," Morrison told ABC television on Sunday night.
"(The restrictions) just won't be for a couple of weeks. I mean kids could lose their entire year of school. That's what's at stake here."
Morrison said in an earlier interview his family was heeding current medical advice.
"My kids will be going to school in the morning and ... we will be following the medical advice," Morrison said.
"For those health workers and others, a complete closure of schools across the country would take out 30 per cent of our health workforce.
"Now, you could imagine what the health impact would be."
Morrison said the evidence remained that the incidence of coronavirus among younger people was far lower than for the rest of the population.
"But we will continue to consider all of these issues based on the expert advice," he said.
"We will do that in a calm and reasoned manner ... all working together and being nationally co-ordinated in our responses."
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said it was important to have a consistent approach in terms of schools, questioning whether the prime minister's national cabinet was unified.
"One of the concerns that has been out there is the changing messages from day to day," he said.
"If you think a decision is going to be made next week or the week after, make it today.
"Because the sooner we act, the more effective it will be."
Morrison said it was naive to think there could be a one-size-fits-all approach across the states and territories.
"They need to make the decision about how much further they go ... on the basis of the health advice they have and the specific situation in their state," he said.