Australia's Daily Growth Rate Of Coronavirus Infections Has Slowed, PM Says
At least 16 Australians have now died after contracting COVID-19 but the prime minister says the "strong" rate of infections is slowing.
The national death toll reached 16 following the deaths of two more people in Victoria and Queensland overnight, as new quarantine measures for international arrivals kick in across the country.
A man aged in his 80s died of coronavirus in hospital in Victoria, while a 75-year-old woman died in Queensland after travelling on the Ruby Princess cruise ship that docked in Sydney.
Victoria and Queensland's death tolls have now risen to four and two, respectively.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said coronavirus infection rates remained high but were slowing.
Announcing a new $1.1 billion health package to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, Morrison said a week ago the daily rate of virus infections had increased to 25 to 30 per cent.
In the past few days, it has slowed to about 13 to 15 per cent.
"They are still strong rates of increase, there's no doubt about that," the prime minister said.
"But as we take the measures that we have been taking and put them in place and we have the co-operation from the Australian people, then that obviously in turn that has an impact on how we are managing the spread of the virus."
Meanwhile, thousands of people flying into the country have begun being shuttled to makeshift quarantine facilities as Australia turns to law and order to fight the virus.
With two-thirds of the country's 3635 cases either in or closely linked to overseas travellers, vacant hotels and other accommodation are being used to ensure no more travellers have a chance to spread the disease.
Returned travellers will see out their 14 days of quarantine in state-funded hotel rooms, with doors guarded by state police, defence personnel or private security guards.
In Sydney alone, 3000 people were expected to land on Sunday.
"We will treat these people with absolute respect and dignity but we will need their support," NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said.
"The 14 days, I am sure, will be a challenge for them and perhaps the food is not up to standard or they feel that the bed is not as comfortable as their own.
"They need to understand that we are trying to protect the community of NSW."
Deputy federal chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the compulsory quarantine was supported by the "very best" medical evidence.
"Realistically, a vaccine for the coronavirus is many months away. In the meantime, Australians can be reassured we are constantly monitoring COVID-19 developments -- both domestically and abroad -- and adapting what we do to minimise its spread," Dr Kelly said in an opinion piece released on Saturday.