Three days before the federal election, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has raised concerns about Covid-19, claiming that many of the reported deaths were not caused by the virus and vowed not to interfere in people’s lives.
Australia has detected 66 covid-related deaths and more than 53,000 infections in the last 24 hours – more than six months ago when daily numbers typically showed less than 20 deaths and 2,000 infections.
The number of infections has risen since the advent of Omicron and the relaxation of epidemic-related restrictions. Very few Australians still wear masks or maintain social distance.
“When you have a case number at that level, what you see is that people, when they die for a lot of other reasons, they’re going to die with covid,” Morrison said.
“And the deaths have been recorded as Kovid’s death. But that doesn’t mean … they died because of Kovid. It’s a very different proposition,” he told reporters.
Australia reports a Covid-19 death for anyone who has a confirmed or potential infection with the virus at the time of death unless there is a “clear alternative” cause of death.
“We’re living with Kovid,” Morrison said.
He added, “We are not going back to those daily press conferences about talking about covid every day and threatening shutdowns and lockdowns and interfering in people’s lives again.”
“That’s not what I’m going to do when I’m re-elected on Saturday. I’m not going to drag Australia back to that point,” Morrison told reporters.
Opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese, whose party has been leading the way in opinion polls despite recent tough competition, said the epidemic remained a risk.
“We need to increase our national strategy. We need to look at not only the number of deaths, but also the number of people in the hospital and the number of infections,” Albanese said.
More than 95 per cent of people over the age of 16 in Australia have been fully vaccinated, which opposition leaders say has helped reduce the impact of the disease.
“But it’s still a major issue,” Albanese said at the National Press Club in Canberra.
Morrison is widely credited with spending huge sums of money to save jobs and the economy during the epidemic.
But the PM has been criticized by opponents for the slowness of the vaccine and the rapid self-administered antigen testing.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)