Australia is ‘winning’ against coronavirus, finance minister says

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Swimmers return to Bondi beach on April 28, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

Brook Mitchell | Getty Images

As authorities globally look to ease restrictions intended to contain the coronavirus and reopen economies, Australia’s finance minister says the country is already on the path to victory against the disease.

“If you look at what’s happening in Australia today, I mean, we are winning the battle against the virus,” Mathias Cormann, Australia’s finance minister, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday.

“The number of active cases is now very, very low,” Cormann said. “In some jurisdictions, there are no active cases, in fact.”

Acknowledging that Australia remains “very focused on avoiding a second wave” of infections, the minister said the health risk is “now appropriately managed.”

Australia has been among the countries in Asia Pacific that have announced plans to ease lockdown measures that had been put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“We want the economy to return back to normal, as close to normal as it possibly can, in a Covid-19 safe way,” Cormann said.

Still, authorities in the region remain cautious following a recent uptick in virus cases reported in China and South Korea. Both countries are among the first to report new outbreaks after easing restrictions.

Lockdown measures implemented worldwide have badly hit global economic activity. As a result, many governments hope to reopen their countries as soon as possible, in efforts to limit some of that damage. As part of its efforts to battle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, Australia’s government pledged a massive financial stimulus package of 320 billion Australian dollars (nearly $207 billion).

Cormann said, however, “We certainly don’t want to keep this enhanced welfare measures going for any longer than necessary.” 

“We think that we’re in a good position once we are able to ease all those restrictions and return to normality … at a domestic level to get the economy growing again.” Cormann said. “We want people to go back to work and business to get back into business.”

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