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.”
In contrast, the global death toll from COVID-19 now exceeds 100,000.
More than 6200 coronavirus cases have been recorded nationally, with the number of new cases continuing to decline.
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is “encouraged but not complacent” about the decreasing rates of new Australian COVID-19 cases, saying it shows that social distancing is working.
However, he rejected talk of removing such restrictions.
“This needs to continue for sometime yet,” the Labor leader told Sky New.
A man aged 80 died from the coronavirus in a Victorian hospital while a 91-year-old woman was NSW’s latest victim, taking the national toll to 56.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked the community for doing the right thing over the Easter period.
“I know for many families across NSW this is the time when they may have gone to a place of worship at church or gathered together in family homes. Unfortunately, this is not allowed tomorrow,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We don’t want anybody unintentionally getting sick on Easter Sunday.”
Police across the country are on alert to bust non-essential travellers and have been handing out hefty fines.
At the same time, police in some states are satisfied about the public’s compliance with social distancing.
Many Australians will tune in to live-streamed church services on Easter Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Morrison government is providing an immediate $100 million funding injection to more than 300 charities and community organisations faced with the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.
Called the community support package, Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said a further $100 million would be allocated over the next six months where it is needed.
“Many people reaching out to these services may have never needed this type of assistance before so we need to make sure we have the right supports in place to help people through this period and bounce back stronger when it’s over,” Senator Ruston said in a statement.