National coronavirus death toll reaches 56 as authorities urge Australians to stay home over Easter

Another two deaths confirmed on Saturday has seen Australia's coronavirus death toll rise to 56.

Commuters are seen at Central Station, Sydney.

Commuters are seen at Central Station, Sydney. Source: AAP

Australia's death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 56 following two fatalities in NSW and Victoria, but the number of new cases remains relatively small in a sign that social restrictions are working.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth concedes the restrictions have made it difficult for Australians over the long Easter weekend break.

"We have asked you to change the way we live as Australians essentially overnight," Dr Coatsworth said on Saturday.

"And it's because of that reason that we can continue to give you, for several days now and including today, good news about the number of cases that are occurring."

Deputy chief medical health officer Nick Coatsworth.
Deputy chief medical health officer Nick Coatsworth. Source: SBS

In contrast, the global death toll from COVID-19 now exceeds 100,000.

More than 6,200 coronavirus cases have been recorded nationally, with the number of new cases continuing to decline.

Dr Coatsworth said it is important that Australia's coronavirus restrictions remain in place.

"We have to sustain the quality of our response," he said.

He said health officials are carefully monitoring the number of people who get infected from one confirmed case of COVID-19. 

"One of the important indicators is the number of cases that you get as a result of a single case - that so-called basic reproductive number," he said.

"We want to try and see that less than one."

Source: SBS

Dr Coatsworth added that various exit scenarios would be presented to the national cabinet of state and territory leaders.

"No option is on or off the table," he said. 

"We are not speculating [about] what is going to happen in 14 days. What we're aiming for is the news continues to be good."

National death toll rises to 56

The number of deaths in Australia from COVID-19 reached 56, following the death of a man in his eighties in Victoria and a woman in her nineties in NSW. 

"It is always tough when a family member passes away and this is the toughest of times," NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Saturday.

He says the woman had a pre-existing health condition and it is unknown how she became infected with coronavirus. 

COVID-19 and the flu season

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly  risked allowing the virus to surge again. 

He said the success of the social distancing measures can be seen in the smaller number of flu cases this season.

Dr Coatsworth said there is limited evidence that COVID-19 will have increased transmission during winter. 

"There is limited evidence at the moment about a seasonal effect of COVID-19," he said.

"The concern about winter is that there are other respiratory diseases like influenza which do have a seasonal component of them."

He also urged Australians to get their flu vaccination this year, despite some people expressing concern about having one-on-one consultations with health professionals.

"This is an absolutely critical message and I will say to Australians that because they have done so well in flattening this curve, the chance of you actually encountering someone with COVID-19 when you get your pathology test is actually extraordinarily low," he said.

"If you want to get a pathology test, or influenza vaccine, to do something where you face to face contact has to be there, then by all means go and do it."

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at 

Additional reporting by AAP.

4 min read
Published 11 April 2020 at 4:45pm
By Biwa Kwan
Source: SBS