Australia

'Help save a life': Australia's political leaders issue Easter coronavirus warning

Health authorities are warning against complacency after encouraging figures showed the rise in the infection rates is dropping off.

The Easter long weekend looms as a critical test in Australia's battle against coronavirus, with people urged to stay at home during the holiday period.

Health authorities are warning against complacency after encouraging figures showed the infection rate rising just 1.8 per cent over the past three days.

Australia's new daily cases fell below 100 on Thursday, the first time it has slipped under that mark for three weeks.

More than 6100 people have contracted coronavirus, with 51 deaths.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said while the infection rate was an important development, strict social distancing measures must remain in place.

"This Easter is the time when any Australian can help save a life with their decisions, or inadvertently risk a life," he said.

"This is the moment to lock in the gains, to stay at home, to protect other people, and if we do that, we give ourselves the best way through this."

'Does not diminish hope'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his Easter message to drive home the importance of social distancing during what is usually a weekend of gathering for many.

"I hope it is a time as you come together in your homes, together with your immediate family, that it will be a strong reminder about what's most important," he said.

Drawing on his own faith, Mr Morrison acknowledged this holiday would be vastly different to normal with no large family gatherings and online church services.

"For Christians, not being able to gather does not diminish the hope that we have through this important Easter period," he said.

'This year, we will live out our faith by doing the right thing.

"That means staying at home, making sure we're checking on our neighbours and supporting our communities and families, our friends."

The federal government has reached an agreement with Qantas for three rescue flights from Peru, Argentina and South Africa for Australians stranded through border closures and lockdowns.

0:00
Sports psychologist offers tips for isolation
Sports psychologist offers tips for isolation

Those flights are expected next week while a separate government rescue flight returned about 280 Australians from Peru on Thursday.

Meanwhile, independent schools will be forced to open in term two after the government threatened to cut funding.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said he wanted all schools open to give parents with no other option the chance to send children.

"If they're working we do not want them to have to make that decision between going to work and staying at home and educating their children," he told Sky News.

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 sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch