• Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly has urged vigilance, saying relaxing strict shut downs and limits on peoples' movement could see the virus explode. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer says while the data may look encouraging, a relaxing of social distancing measures could yet see COVID-19 explode.
11 Apr 2020 - 10:12 AM  UPDATED 11 Apr 2020 - 10:13 AM

As Australians settle into the four-day Easter holiday, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer has said relaxing strict shut downs and limits on peoples' movement could see the virus explode.

The Deputy Chief Medical OfficerPaul Kelly said without the social distancing measures currently in place, one positive person could lead to 400 other cases within a month.

Police across the country are on alert to bust non-essential travellers this Easter and have been handing out hefty fines.

In Queensland, police have so far issued 289 fines to people breaking COVID-19 restrictions

As of Friday morning, 289 people had been fined a total of $385,526 for disregarding strict coronavirus regulations which include the banning of non-essential travel.

In New South Wales, 45 people have copped $1000 on-the-spot fines in the past 24 hours for breaching COVID-19 restrictions while eight people were charged, said NSW Police.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner, Gary Worboys, implored people to continue to follow strict social distancing measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

Mr Worboys warned drivers that if they were pulled over this weekend without a good excuse to be on the road "you will be issued a $1000 fine".

"Right around the state, police are reporting there's a good deal of consideration and compliance with those requests around not travelling and social distancing," Mr Worboys told reporters on Friday.

"The movement of people with caravans and holidaymakers with surfboards and camping gear - it is almost non-existent."

However, NSW Arts Minister, Don Harwin, was forced to quit cabinet after it emerged that he relocated to a holiday house in Pearl Beach on the state's Central Coast.

The minister on Thursday returned to his primary residence in Sydney on the premier's instructions before announcing his resignation on Friday evening.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Mr Harwin had "appropriately resigned from cabinet".

He was fined $1000 by NSW Police for relocating from Elizabeth Bay to Pearl Beach "in contravention of a current ministerial direction".

In Western Australia, police will continue to patrol the state's beaches throughout the Easter break, warning they will be closed if physical distancing rules are ignored.

WA authorities have praised the behaviour of beachgoers though, saying distancing rules were largely respected on Friday as the temperature reached 36C.

With temperatures in the west set to touch 37C on Saturday and 27C on Sunday, Health Minister Roger Cook said officers will continue to patrol beaches and won't hesitate to close them if people are doing the wrong thing.

"It's in the hands of the beachgoers," Mr Cook said.

"If you want to continue to enjoy the beaches in this incredible weather we're having on this Easter long weekend, please continue to observe the necessary measures around physical distancing."

The South Australian Premier also urged his state to remain vigilant on social distancing and other measures over the rest of the Easter break.

Premier Steven Marshall said the four-day holiday period was always going to be among the most challenging times during the global pandemic.

He said South Australians appeared to have heeded the call to stay away from traditional holiday locations with many areas reporting very low numbers.

SA reported seven new COVID-19 cases on Friday taking the state's total to 428.

Despite low numbers in recent days, deputy child public health officer Mike Cusack said the fight against the virus was still in its early stages.

"The key when we see a low number of cases, is not that we think we're through this in any way," he said.

"I think we're in the opening rounds of coronavirus and there is some distance yet to travel."

More than 6100 people in Australia have contracted coronavirus with 54 deaths - including the latest deaths in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Mr Kelly's comments came as he acknowledged on Friday that Australia could be on the cusp of seeing the epidemic die out because rates of transmission of infection were down to one or two people for every infected person.

Australia's daily increase in cases fell below 100 on Thursday - the first time it's slipped under that threshold for three weeks.


Panic buying could cause 'disastrous' consequences for remote communities
The CEO of a regional supermarket service has warned that panic buying in metropolitan areas could have 'disastrous' knock-on effects in remote communities, as stores struggle to get supplies of household basics.