Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks on the phone with US President Donald Trump this morning from Australian Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Adam Taylor
Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks on the phone with US President Donald Trump this morning from Australian Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Adam Taylor

PM and Trump discuss virus amid spikes

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken to US President Donald Trump about the need to "reopen their economies safely" as the US recorded a spike of 70,000 new cases in a single day.

Amid growing debate in the United States over the push to reopen schools and divisions with the White House's top COVID-19 expert Anthony Fauci, Mr Morrison said he had a "productive discussion" with Mr Trump.

"We had a very good discussion this morning. We speak regularly. It was about half-an-hour's discussion,'' the Prime Minister said.

"Of course, the pandemic issues, the work that is being done by like-minded partners across the region ... we both want to see our economies go forward. We want to see people back in jobs, and we share a lot of common views on those things."

Mr Morrison said the leaders did not specifically discuss the recent spike in cases in the US.

"No, we know the US situation very well, so it didn't require a lot of discussion on that, and I was also able to say how seven states and territories were going in Australia, which is extremely well,'' he said.

"I mean, Australia's success in managing COVID has been well recognised around the world, and Australia is not the only country who is dealing with an outbreak like we are in Victoria.The world is dealing with this and outbreaks are not uncommon, we are dealing with these challenges better than many and better than most."

A spokesman said both leaders compared notes on managing COVID-19, and the need to reopen their economies safely.

The Prime Minister also updated the President on the Government's 2020 Defence Strategic Update and commitment to building Australia's defence capability, including in partnership with the US, a policy that could spark further tensions with China.

Mr Morrison and the US President also discussed their commitment to open markets and low-tax regimes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks on the phone with US President Donald Trump this morning from Australian Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Adam Taylor
Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks on the phone with US President Donald Trump this morning from Australian Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Adam Taylor

 

They discussed a range of Indo-Pacific issues including working more closely with Southeast Asian partners and other key players like Japan and India, including through the Quad.

But it's the debate over reopening the economy that remains the big issue in the United States, where the school year is scheduled to commence on August 17.

The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany insisted on Thursday that President Trump wants schools open, despite some flagging they will offer distance learning.

"When he says open," she said, "he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. Science should not stand in the way of this."

 

But US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci, who has described the White House's attempts to discredit him as "bizarre" told Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday that the undermining of advice from scientists about public-health measures like mask-wearing was disappointing.

Dr Fauci said many states rushed too quickly to reopen and the fallout was now writ large in the COVID-19 spike.

"We've got to regroup, call a time out," he said.

"When you looked at what happened in the European countries, when they had their peak and they locked down, they locked down to the tune of about 90 to 95 per cent of the country, truly locked down.

"What I think we need to do, and my colleagues agree, is we really almost need to regroup, call a time-out - not necessarily lock down again, but say that we've got to do this in a more measured way. We've got to get our arms around this and we've got to get this controlled."

Originally published as PM and Trump discuss virus amid spikes


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