Australians have been urged to stay at home with their immediate families over Easter to restrict the spread of coronavirus as the national toll rose to 49.
The daily increase in new cases has dropped to about three per cent, but health experts are concerned COVID-19 could be widely transmitted among unwitting community members.
Health Minister Greg Hunt warned abandoning social distancing rules over the long weekend would undo everything done to curtail the crisis.
“The virus doesn’t take a holiday,” he told the Ten Network.
Federal parliament will meet briefly on Wednesday to pass a $130 billion wage subsidy scheme, which will see eligible workers paid $1500 a fortnight.
“Today is one of the most important days in the history of the Australian Parliament as we come together across the political divide to save millions of Australian jobs,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the ABC.
Labor is concerned 1.1 million casual workers are being denied access to the JobKeeper program, but will approve the spending regardless.
“People will be left behind by the package as it currently stands (but) we won’t stand in the way,” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said.
More than 5800 Australians have caught the coronavirus and 49 people have died, the latest fatality announced in Victoria by Premier Daniel Andrews.
An infectious diseases nurse treating COVID-19 patients in a Brisbane hospital has tested positive to the illness.
She stayed home when symptoms emerged and notified her bosses immediately. The nurse is now resting in isolation.
In NSW, three children have been taken to hospital from a Sydney hotel where travellers have been placed in quarantine after returning to Australia.
Almost 300 people quarantined at the nearby Swisshotel will be released on Wednesday morning after undergoing a final health check.
This group arrived in Australia on March 26 and have undertaken a mandatory 14-day self-isolation.
More than 3000 Australians are expected to be released from hotel isolation over the next week.
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said people should not be complacent to the risk of community transmission.
Almost 550 people have been infected with coronavirus by someone who didn’t know they had it.
Professor Murphy says containment and quarantine is the best strategy since a vaccine for COVID-19 may not be found, but if one was, “That’s a beautiful way out.”
The government continues to work on the basis that the tough restrictions and economic support for businesses suffering under them will only need to be in place for six months.
Leaders and medical officials are now looking at how the nation will eventually find its way out of the twin health and economic crises.
Meanwhile, education ministers have agreed that all year 12 students will be able to finish school in 2020 despite the coronavirus-induced disruptions to their face-to-face education.