Experts have answered the key questions Australians are asking as people adjust to radically different living conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Doctor and former federal MP Professor Kerryn Phelps together with economist Peter Switzer answered a series of questions on A Current Affair on Saturday.
While Australia is flattening the curve, experts have warned the virus is still far from defeated with the lockdown predicted to last for at least months.
Professor Phelps said people should wear a mask when on the street but should leave medical-grade masks for frontline health care workers
Should I wear a mask when I am in public?
Wearing a mask is currently recommended by the Centre for Disease Control when people are out in public.
Professor Phelps said that while people should be wearing masks they should stick to home-made fabric versions due to a shortage of supply of medical masks.
‘They also recommended leaving the medical grade masks for frontline health workers and they suggested people wear a cloth mask.’
With 814,000 Australia’s expected to line up in the dole queue before June many are seeking out additional casual work to stay afloat. Pictured is the line up at the Prahran Centrelink office in Melbourne on March 24
Will getting some casual work stop me getting Job Keeper?
With up to a million Australian’s predicted to lose their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic many are seeking out the Job Keeper program offered by the government.
Economist Peter Switzer (pictured) said there is no information available on having a single casual job while applying from Job Keeper but he believes the it should be perfectly fine
But with 814,000 Australia’s expected to line up in the dole queue before June many are seeking out additional casual work to stay afloat in the meantime.
Mr Switzer said there is no information available on having a single casual job while applying from Job Keeper but he believes the it should be perfectly fine.
‘In this case, I think you could get the job keeper and get some more casual work,’ he said.
‘The government’s not trying to stop you from earning money so I think that you could definitely get a second job.’
He said the current government fact sheet states that if a person has two casual jobs only one may apply for the $1,500 job keeper payment but they can still work in both.
What if I don’t qualify for Job Keeper?
Australians are required to work for at least 12 months at a casual job before they are eligible for Job Keeper.
Centrelink payments also take into consideration the income of person’s partner meaning that many will not be able to access the support.
Mr Switzer said in this case people are allowed to access their superannuation which will give them access of up to $10,000 before June 30 at the end of the financial year with another $10,000 able to be withdrawn in the next.
On Saturday Australia’s death toll rose to 56 after a 91-year-old died with the total number of coronavirus cases at 6,303
Should I get the flu shot or wait until it is safer?
Professor Phelps said people should get the flu shot, particularly if it is offered through their work.
‘Even if you’ve never had the flu vaccine before, this is the year to start,’ she said.
‘We need to avoid the threat of a double epidemic of influenza, and COVID-19.
‘I would say that if your workplace is offering a free vaccine, take up the offer, because many GP’s have already run out of their early supplies and are waiting for the next round of supplies to come in and they have patients on a waiting list.’
Health expert and former federal MP Professor Kerryn Phelps (pictured) said people should avoid touching each other’s pets as they can transfer coronavirus to and from fur
Can people pat my dog?
Social distancing requires that people keep at least 1.5 metres distance between each other and Professor Phelps said the same caution should apply to pets.
‘I would advise against it – that would put the other person within 1.5 metre physical distance of you,’ Professor Phelps said.
‘Also, if that person’s carrying the virus, they could transfer the virus to the dog’s fur which you could then theoretically pick up on your hands.’
She said the reverse would also be true and by patting another person’s dog could accidentally pass on the coronavirus.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 6,303
New South Wales: 2,857
South Australia: 429
Western Australia: 514
Australian Capital Territory: 103
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASES: 6,303
Isn’t the flu more dangerous than coronavirus?
Professor Phelps said one of the main reasons the flu season is not as feared as the coronavirus is due to complacency.
‘I think that’s partly due to do with the fact there’s a vaccine to protect it,’ Professor Phelps said.
‘COVID-19 is extremely dangerous, it attacks the lungs and affects your ability to breathe.
‘Currently there’s no treatment and there’s no vaccine against COVID-19 so we have to contain the spread as much as we can.’
On Saturday Australia’s death toll rose to 56 after a 91-year-old died with the total number of coronavirus cases at 6,303.
Australians should not visit older family members under the current restrictions and should reserve travel for essential visits such as to the supermarket. Pictured is a woman at Woolworths in Coburg, Melbourne
Can I visit my older family members?
Visiting family members of other people outside the home is prohibited under the current government guidelines to slow the spread of cornonavirus.
Professor Phelps said with the exception of essential travel for reasons such as buying food or going to work people are not allowed outside the house.
‘We’re asked not to go and visit elderly relatives in particular because of the danger to them,’ she said.
She said by visiting older relatives, people could be putting them in harms way and be risking a huge fine.
WHAT IS THE $130BILLION JOBKEEKER PACKAGE?
JOBKEEPER SUPPORT PLAN
* Workers will get $1500 per fortnight through their employers
* It’s equal to about 70 per cent of the median wage
* Total cost of $130 billion for a six-month period
WHO CAN GET IT?
* It applies to full and part-time workers, as well as sole traders
* Casual workers will get it if they’ve been on the books for 12 months or more
* Workers stood down since March 1 are eligible
* Six millions Australians are expected to benefit
* Kiwis on 444 visas will also get the payment
WHICH COMPANIES CAN APPLY?
* Those with turnovers that have fallen by at least 30 per cent
* For businesses with annual turnovers of more than $1 billion, that must have fallen by 50 per cent or more
* It also applies to not-for-profits
* Companies can register on the tax office website
WHEN WILL PAYMENTS START?
* From May and backdated to March 30
* Parliament will reconvene to pass the underpinning legislation
– Australian Associated Press