Australians told to keep up virus measures

Young people are being warned not to be complacent about the coronavirus as many under 30 fall ill.
Young people are being warned not to be complacent about the coronavirus as many under 30 fall ill.

Health authorities are urging Australians to maintain social distancing measures despite the rate of coronavirus cases falling.

The government is continuing to work on the basis the tough restrictions and economic support for businesses suffering under them will only need to be in place for six months.

More than 5800 people have coronavirus in Australia and 45 people have died so far.

But the rate of new infections has dropped to an average of three per cent.

"The trend is our friend at present and we want to keep it that way," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News on Tuesday.

Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd says Australians can't let their guard down because community transmissions are occurring.

"I know it's really challenging for many people with the self-isolation that's occurring, with the restriction of activities, but we are doing this to help each other, help ourselves and save lives by stopping the spread," he told Nine.

The government is poised to release coronavirus modelling to show how the virus has spread and offer a glimpse at how long strict measures will be in place.

Senior minister Christian Porter said while that modelling was only a prediction of what could be, six months was the best guess.

"Flattening the curve has the effect of lengthening the pathology of the disease but the very sensible reason for that is to ensure that we are not over-stressing our medical system," he told reporters in Canberra.

"The answer is that we don't know with any certitude how long we'll be going through this, but based on reasonable estimates around modelling, six months is a good period of time in which to link changes to the Fair Work Act to the JobKeeper payment."

The prime minister and state and territory leaders met on Tuesday where they discussed the modelling as well as relief for commercial tenants.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese, who is yet to see the modelling, says Australians deserve to know what's driving decision making.

"I think it will build trust and will encourage support for the measures that have been put in," he told the ABC.

"We're all in this together."

A scaled-back parliament will meet on Wednesday to pass the government's $130 billion wage subsidy plan, which will see eligible employees receive a $1500 fortnightly payment.

Health authorities say the slowdown in the rate of new cases each day shows the restrictions on daily life and social distancing measures have successfully flattened the curve.

But they are cautious about the rate spiking again.

Governments are concerned that people will be tempted to breach restrictions on movements and social distancing rules over the coming Easter weekend.

Younger people, in particular, have been warned about being complacent, given that people aged in their 30s are among the worst-affected patients.

New polling from Essential Research finds more people have changed their behaviour to follow social distancing rules than a week ago, but those aged between 18 and 34 are lagging behind their older compatriots.

Scott Morrison has wished British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a speedy recovery after he was admitted to intensive care after contracting the disease.

"Thinking of you, your family and all our UK friends at this tough time," Mr Morrison said.

Meanwhile, South Australia recorded its first death from the illness after a 75-year-old man died on Monday night, taking the national toll to 45.

And the nation's education ministers are discussing ways to help minimise disruption to year 12 students during the crisis.

Victoria has told students to study at home if they can for term two, and said those in their final year may need to stay at school longer.

Australian Associated Press