Australia is trying to work out how to end the coronavirus lockdowns. Picture: David Swift.
Australia is trying to work out how to end the coronavirus lockdowns. Picture: David Swift.

Asymptomatic people to be tested for virus

Australia wants to see coronavirus restrictions dropped but if they want them gone forever there's one big change they'll have to "permanently" make to their everyday lives.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told reporters this afternoon the way Australians physically interact would be very different in the future - perhaps even permanently.

"Even if we relieve restrictions in the future, people need to change the way they interact permanently. Permanently," he said.

"And in the sensible way, like keeping distance from each other, hand hygiene, probably not permanently not shaking hands, but for the foreseeable future."

Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING

Dr Murphy also said health authorities would be ramping up testing in asymptomatic people to make sure the virus was truly under control.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told reporters this afternoon health and aged care workers would be the first priority for asymptomatic testing.

"We have just had a meeting of the health protection principle committee and we are talking about significantly expanding testing across the country," he said.

"Including, for the first time, we will start testing for asymptomatic people to try and be absolutely sure that we are capturing every case that we can and we are not missing cases.

"We don't think we are missing significant numbers of cases in Australia, but if we are going to consider at the National Cabinet in a few weeks time the relaxation of distancing measures, we have to be so well-prepared."

Australia has now recorded over 6700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3004 in New South Wales, 1350 in Victoria, 1033 in Queensland, 438 in South Australia, 549 in Western Australia, 212 in Tasmania, 106 in the Australian Capital Territory and 28 in the Northern Territory. A total of 83 deaths have been recorded nationally.