Melbourne outbreak risking economic pain

The Morrison government is concerned Melbourne’s coronavirus outbreak could threaten Australia’s economic recovery.

Dozens of suburbs across the city entered the second day of a reinstated lockdown on Friday when 66 new cases were detected, the 17th consecutive day of double-digit increases.

Senior cabinet minister Simon Birmingham vowed to put partisan politics aside to work with the Victorian Labor government on squashing the disease.

“We have a situation in Victoria that is threatening the economic recovery that is so important for all of us,” he told Sky News on Friday.

“I absolutely fear that this is getting in the way of the economic recovery that is so important to saving the jobs of Australians.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke with world leaders in other countries performing well in Europe, the Americas and Israel on Thursday night.

He said as economies reopen, more cases were being detected overseas.

“What we’re seeing in Victoria is not strange,” Mr Morrison told Sounds of the Mountains radio.

“It’s consistent with what’s happening in many other countries around the world where you’re opening up your economy and we’re on top of it, we’re getting on top of it more broadly.

“Yes, it’s very concerning, but it is important that we understand the context and so the COVID-19 impact will be there on our economy for some time to come.”

Victoria’s government is under pressure after serious breaches were alleged in hotel quarantine and a coronavirus-infected man left his two-week stint without being tested.

Senator Birmingham said the federal government was not interested in blame games, despite the state opposition calling for Health Minister Jenny Mikakos to be sacked.

“We’re interested in working with Victoria, acknowledging the failings that have happened in Victoria and trying to make sure they get on top of that.”

He wants the outbreak to become a model for dealing with other infection spikes.

NSW recorded no new cases on Friday after eight on Thursday, including a supermarket worker who tested positive after spending two weeks in Melbourne hotel quarantine.

Visitors to the ACT from Melbourne hotspots will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days or return home immediately.

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