Australia may be ‘on the cusp’ of stamping out coronavirus but people have been warned not to become complacent as the global death toll passed 100,000.
Strict social distancing regulations have enabled transmission rates to drop to one person causing one or two infections rather than the scenario of one person leading to 400 cases.
However the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned overnight Friday that lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a “deadly resurgence” of COVID-19.
Some badly hit countries, like Spain, are considering a gradual resumption of normal life but WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it must be carefully balanced against the risk of a second wave of infections.
“The WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone,” Dr Tedros said.
“At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to deadly resurgence. The way down can be as deadly as the way up if not managed properly.”
The warning comes as Australians were urged not to relax their social distancing behaviours over the Easter long weekend and to stay at home and adhere to the rules.
Under the current regulation regime, deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said Australia could be close to seeing the epidemic die out.
“Ideally, where you want to be is below one…person being infected, after a person themselves had the infection,” he said.
“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’ time remains to be seen. But at the moment, we’re certainly not anywhere near five.”
The nation’s daily increase in cases fell below 100 on Thursday for the first time in three weeks.
More than 6200 people in Australia have contracted coronavirus with 54 deaths – including the latest deaths in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
More than 1.6 million people around the globe have been infected, according to the John Hopkins University count.
But the true number of lives lost is believed be much higher because of limited testing, cover-ups by some governments and different counting practices.
Italy leads the death toll with more than 18,000 while the USA is on track to overtake Italy, followed by Spain.
More than 40 per cent of the dead in the US were in New York state.
Britain recorded 980 new deaths, its highest daily total, for close to 9000 in all, health secretary Matt Hancock announced on Friday local time.
In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a three-week extension of lockdown as helicopters and drones were deployed to make sure residents didn’t slip out of their homes over Easter.
But Spain has decided to allow factories and construction sites to resume work on Monday, while schools, most shops and offices will remain closed.
Spanish authorities said they trusted that the move would not cause a significant surge in infections.