Public urged not to think virus fight over

Rebecca Gredley
People are being warned they must keep up social distancing to prevent a second coronavirus wave

It's dangerous for Australians to think the fight against the coronavirus is over, the Grattan Institute has warned.

The think tank has released a report showing the risk of new infections increases as shops, schools and workplaces reopen, particularly if people ignore social distancing rules.

The report says workplaces should be reopened slowly, with as many people working from home as possible to limit opportunities for the virus to spread.

The institute also backs mandatory quarantining for international arrivals, saying it must remain in place.

The think tank's health program director Stephen Duckett says the transition to a new normal won't have an end date until a vaccine or treatment is found.

"It's dangerous for people to think this fight is over," Dr Duckett said.

"The nature of the virus hasn't changed - our behaviour has.

"If Australians go back to a pre-COVID normal, the virus could spread quickly and wildly, like it has elsewhere."

The report also recommends closing schools when a case arises, which is the policy being followed by authorities.

The institute says telehealth should become a permanent part of the healthcare system although in a way that doesn't impede continuity of care.

Dr Duckett notes there will be a further surge in demand for mental health services after the pandemic, so technological solutions should be considered to help the overloaded system.