Coronavirus Australia live coverage: Death toll rises to five as COVID-19 cases surge, emergencies declared
Daily life could be disrupted for up to six months in Australia, as a top official warns coronavirus could lead to 15 million infections and up to 150,000 deaths.
Health authorities have warned there will be an “exponential increase” in coronavirus cases in the next few weeks after a spike of new cases today.
Since 11am yesterday there have been another 37 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in NSW, bringing the state-wide total to 171 cases since the outbreak started. Nationally the total stands at 368.
A second round of financial stimulus is being fast-tracked as the coronavirus crisis roils financial markets and batters the economy.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reportedly locked in emergency meetings with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann hammering out the details.
It comes only days after the government unveiled a $17.6 billion package, including individual cash payments of $750 to around 6.5 million Australians.
Victoria has declared a state of emergency after 14 new virus cases were confirmed overnight, bringing the national tally to 350 as the death toll rises to five.
Mr Morrison is facing growing pressure to close schools and universities after announcing new measures to slow the spread of the disease on Sunday, including mandatory 14-day self isolation for all international travellers entering the country.
People who breach the new rules face fines of up to $13,000 and jail time.
RELATED: Follow more coronavirus updates here
Non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people have been banned but Mr Morrison said shutting schools would do more harm than good.
There are now 368 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Australia.
Of those, 171 are in NSW, 71 in Victoria, 68 in Queensland, 20 in SA, 28 in WA, seven in Tasmania, one in the NT and two in the ACT.
Six people have died – one in WA, three in NSW and two in Queensland.
Follow our live, rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic below.
5:12 pmMarch 16, 2020HIGHLIGHT
‘Up to 150,000 coronavirus deaths’
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has warned that up to 150,000 Australians could die from the coronavirus.
Professor Kelly today said the number of infections would be “somewhere in the range” of 20 per cent to 60 per cent of the population.
“This is an infectious disease,” he said from Canberra. “The more we can do to separate people and stop the disease spreading, the better. The death rate is around 1 per cent. You can do the maths.”
Under a best-case scenario, which would be a 20 per cent infection rate, he said around 50,000 people out of 5 million infected with the disease could die.
A moderate scenario would mean around 100,000 dead.
Professor Kelly urged people to practise social distancing in order to prevent a rapid rise in the coming months.
He said the elderly, those with a disability and people living in remote communities are at increased risk.
“We need to do what we can to limit the opportunity for the infection to come into aged care,” he said.