A senior Australian health official says the country is close to seeing the Covid-19 coronavirus dying out.

Professor Paul Kelly, Australia's deputy chief medical officer, said the reproductive rate of coronavirus has been somewhere between one and two – meaning every infected person infects between one and two others, AAP reported.

"Where you want to be is below one – so less than one other person being infected after a person themselves has the infection," Professor Kelly told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

Professor Paul Kelly, Australia's deputy chief medical officer. Photo / Supplied
Professor Paul Kelly, Australia's deputy chief medical officer. Photo / Supplied

"Once you get to that point the virus dies out or the epidemic dies out.


"At the moment we're probably on the cusp of that in Australia … whether that's where we're going to be in several weeks or months remains to be seen."

Kelly did sound a note of caution, though, saying if social distancing measures were relaxed the epidemic could yet explode.

He stressed that Australia was "not at that stage yet" and warned people needed to remain vigilant in the fight to flatten the curve of case numbers.

Without the social distancing measures in place in Australia, one positive person could lead to 400 other cases within a month, he said.

"That is the sort of explosive epidemic we've seen in other countries. We just cannot afford, at this stage, to be considering that happening."

Asked if allowing international flights into Australia would be the last restriction to be lifted down the track, Kelly said: "We are an island, of course, and that's our advantage."

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

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


Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his Easter message to drive home the importance of social distancing during a typically festive weekend.

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

"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."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

- additonal reporting ABC