National

Doctors call for stricter coronavirus bans

By AAP Newswire

Australian doctors are demanding the federal government close schools and non-essential workplaces to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone says it is time for a UK-style shutdown.

"It is a big call for governments to direct the population to cease work, suspend schools, and only leave home for essential needs, but the AMA will back governments in making this call," he said on Wednesday.

Dr Bartone said too many Australians were already flouting existing rules while mixed messaging from governments had brought about confusion and anxiety.

"We need strong consistent messages from all levels of government," he said.

"More people need to be at home to flatten the escalation curve."

Dr Bartone acknowledged stricter measures would affect the economy and people's wellbeing, saying more fiscal stimulus and mental health support would be needed.

The government announced further measures on Tuesday night, including limits on parties, weddings and funerals.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said whether or not the government brought about stricter measures was dependent on how seriously Australians took the current arrangements.

Australian Society of Anaesthetists president Suzi Nou said the health system was not up to coping with a massive demand unless more was done to flatten the curve.

"We must drive behaviour, and we must move early," Dr Nou said.

"Every day without drastic action from now is likely to result in a more severe and extended crisis, owing to the cruel mathematics of pandemic."

Labor is backing a tighter shutdown.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the government was creating a tension between the economic and health impacts of the pandemic.

"It's time the politics was put aside. It's time to deal with this health emergency," he told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Albanese also said the gradually tightening restrictions were confusing people.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has already warned there would be "stage three" of lockdowns for the state.

The Community and Public Sector Union has also said it is past time for Australian public servants to work from home.

National secretary Melissa Donnelly said government departments were dragging their heels and called for the Morrison government to support the transition.

"We must flatten the curve, and this move is critical," she said.