Thu, 03 Dec 2020

CANBERRA, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of seven of Australia's eight states and territories have agreed in principle to a plan to open their borders by the end of this year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday chaired a meeting of the National Cabinet at which the local leaders, with the exception of West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, agreed to open up the country by Christmas on Dec. 25.

"We agreed in principle, again, - with the exception of Western Australia and their reservations were outlined on a previous occasion - with the reopening framework for Australia by Christmas," Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra.

He also stressed the importance of the plan, saying it not only details the opening of various activities in economy, community and society, but also includes the necessary actions in public health response to support the plan.

However, McGowan has agreed to increase the state's intake of recently returned travellers into hotel quarantine by 140 in November.

"So we continue to make good progress towards returning Australians home," said Morrison. "And we want to do that as effectively and quickly, as safely as possible. And we'll continue to work with all state and territory jurisdictions to facilitate that wherever we can."

As of Friday afternoon there had been 27,484 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the number of new cases in last 24 hours was 18, according to the latest figures from the federal health ministry.

"So we're doing remarkably well. In the last seven days, only 109 new cases, of those, almost 80 percent are actually overseas acquired," Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said at the same press conference.

Victoria, Australia's hardest-hit state, reported one new case on Friday.

"In fact, the 14-day rolling average now in Victoria is continuing to decrease. It's now 5.8 cases per day and 3.1 cases per day in New South Wales. And that's stable and no other locally acquired cases elsewhere in the country," said Kelly.

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