Prime Minister Scott Morrison will convene National Cabinet on Tuesday with state and territory leaders ahead of crucial talks on Friday to consider a relaxation of social distancing measures nationwide.
There are 6828 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia, with 3036 in New South Wales, 1406 in Victoria, 1038 in Queensland, 438 in South Australia, 551 in Western Australia, 223 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 29 in the Northern Territory.
The COVID-19 death toll stands at 96.
The Australian leaders will be joined tomorrow by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who today announced a trans-Tasman “bubble” could be established.
“Both our countries’ strong record on fighting the virus has placed us in the enviable position of being able to plan the next stage in our economic rebuild and include trans-Tasman travel and engagement in our strategy,” Ms Ardern said on Monday.
Late last month, Mr Morrison said: “If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand.”
However, things weren’t as mellow for relations between Australia and China.
The Chinese Government hit back at Australian media reports claiming it deliberately concealed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak, saying it could exacerbate tensions between the two countries.
Communist Party mouthpiece The Global Times said that western media outlets – “particularly those in Australia” – have “lost their self-proclaimed journalistic professionalism and independence”, and are now “hurting the profound friendship” between the two countries.
“Some Australian media and political elites have lost their independent judgment of the country’s overall interests and have adopted a US-led approach to smearing China over COVID-19. They are hurting the profound friendship between the two peoples and the common interests that have long coalesced,” the report said, quoting a Chinese professor.
Back home, Victoria recorded 22 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday – 19 of which are linked to a meat processing facility first identified as a cluster by the state government on Saturday.
There are 34 cases in total linked to the Melbourne outbreak.
Cedar Meats general manager Tony Kairouz, in a statement to 3AW, said all of the workers at the west Melbourne facility are self-quarantining.
“The welfare and safety of our staff, visitors, suppliers and customers is our highest priority,” he said.
“All meat processed at out facilities is processed in accordance with Australian standards for food safety and our customers can be confident that the meat processed at our facilities is safe to eat.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews refused to be drawn on comments made by Education Minister Dan Tehan on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, including accusations he was “taking a sledgehammer” to education and had jeopardised the national consensus on schools.
Mr Tehan later issued a statement saying “personal frustration” made him “overstep the mark” and withdrew his comments.
Mr Andrews shrugged off the attack on Monday, saying he was “not particularly” worried about the conduct.
“Fighting amongst ourselves is now what’s needed,” he said.
“Fighting this virus is what’s most important.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Capital Territory is no longer coronavirus-free after recording one case on Monday.
A Canberra woman in her 20s acquired the disease overseas and health officials do not believe she has been infectious since returning.
“She did everything she was supposed to do when she returned to Australia,” ACT Health said in a statement.
The ACT last Thursday had become the first jurisdiction to declare itself virus-free.
The woman is the 107th case – 103 people have recovered from COVID-19 and been released from self-isolation and three people have died.
In New South Wales, a 15th resident died at Newmarch House aged care home. The man had no immediate family.
“On behalf of our resident, we grieve for his death and we value that he was a part of our Anglicare family while we cared for him,” Anglicare Sydney said in a statement.