“You can imagine frontline workers. We are already doing that with healthcare and aged care workers, but any professions where they have a lot of interaction with a lot of people during the day.”
The most likely candidates would be the same professions protected by the expansion of NSW’s $5000 fine for spitting or coughing on frontline staff to not only protect healthcare workers and police, but grocery check-out staff, bus drivers and other retail or transport workers.
The aim would be to detect individuals who are infected – and potentially shedding the virus – but do not have symptoms.
“This is very much about us taking the test to people rather than people coming to us for the test,” Professor Kelly said.
How this would be done is under discussion, he said.
“I think we are at that stage now where we have to push testing everywhere and there will be something said about that after [the] national cabinet [meeting],” Professor Kelly said.
With fewer than 200 new confirmed cases in the last week, Australia was on track to ease restrictions in line with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s four-week deadline announced last week, he said.
“We are certainly in a good place at the moment, but we have to be cautious … you see what happened in [Tasmania] where you had one case and then suddenly within a few weeks it was very widespread and a massive disruption,” he said.
The cabinet may decide to ease restrictions broadly, but tighten them in geographical pockets where there are outbreaks, or signs of community transmission, Professor Kelly said.
“All signs at the moment are that we will adjust in terms of decreasing restrictions, but we have to have that conversation with the community that at some point, even on a fairly local area … we may have to have an adjustment the other way,” he said.
“There may have to be specific measures to control an outbreak.”
Kate Aubusson is Health Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.