Australians have been praised for changing their way of life “overnight”, including staying home over the coveted Easter long weekend, to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- 87 new cases of COVID-19 nationally
- Authorities say it’s still too early to talk about easing social distancing rules
- Influenza numbers plummeting
In an update on the national coronavirus figures Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth took a moment to thank people across the country for adhering to the social distancing measures.
“We have asked you to change the way we live as Australians, essentially overnight,” he said.
“And, essentially overnight, we’ve come together as Australians and done just that.
“It’s because of that reason that we can continue to give you, for several days now including today, good news about the number of cases that are occurring.”
In the 24 hours to Saturday afternoon 87 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total to 6,290.
The number of Australians who have died stands at 56 and 231 people are in hospital with the virus, including 75 people in Intensive Care Units, with just under 40 on ventilators.
Health authorities said 343,000 people had been tested for the virus but did not give an update on how many people have recovered.
There could be a spike in numbers in the coming days though, when Australians who were aboard the Greg Mortimer cruise ship — 70 per cent of which have tested positive for the virus — return to Melbourne.
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For the third day in a row the number of new cases was below 100, leading Dr Coatsworth to issue words of encouragement to people who would usually be spending the weekend seeing family or holidaying away from home.
“We’re very happy with what we’re seeing Australians do around Easter and we have got to remember that this is a holiday time,” he said.
“We’ve asked Australians to break a lifelong habit with this weekend.”
But he stressed that the good news should not be taken as a signal the social distancing rules were about to be eased.
“We need to sustain those gains,” he said.
“This is a matter that we have to sustain the quality of our response so we can continue to give you low numbers every day but it’s certainly too early to be talking about relaxation at the moment.”
‘Plummeting’ flu numbers
As Australia heads into winter concerns have been raised about the potential burden on the health system from dual viruses, influenza and coronavirus.
But Dr Coatsworth said the current data indicated the rates of the flu were promising.
“With the social distancing that people have been doing, those numbers are plummeting,” he said.
“Which is just another great indicator of why this policy is actually working and that Australians are doing what is asked of them.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer continued to urge anyone with a chronic health condition to continue to seek help from their doctors, saying around 2.4 million Australians had used the Government’s expanded telehealth system.
He also thanked health workers who were forgoing their four-day weekend to care for Australians currently fighting the virus.
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