PM expects virus crisis to last for at least six months
Australia's coronavirus outbreak could last for at least six months, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
But he urged Australians to "go about their normal lives".
With more than 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, the country's new National Cabinet - made up of the Prime Minister and state leaders - will hold its first official meeting today ahead of a nationwide ban on major sporting and cultural events involving more than 500 people from tomorrow.
In an exclusive interview, Mr Morrison said the government was preparing for "months and months" of chaos and closures as the government's focus moved to slowing the spread of the deadly virus.
Mr Morrison said it was "not unreasonable" to assume the virus could disrupt daily life until at least September.
"Whether that is the time frame or not, no one really knows, that's the problem. When we are in uncharted territory that's what it is," Mr Morrison said.
"It could be much shorter than that, it could be … longer than that. But we will need to prepare for many months of this."
As thousands of Australians continued to front hospitals and medical centres for testing yesterday, the government launched its long-awaited public health campaign to provide advice to the public on how to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce unnecessary pressure on health services.
The ads will appear in newspapers as well as on TV and radio from today, encouraging Australians to practise good hygiene and advising them when to seek help.
"It's about ensuring we contain and manage the spread," Mr Morrison said.
"We want people to go about their normal lives, going to work, going to school, as much as possible. We will get through this together."
Mr Morrison also revealed the government was close to finalising legislation needed to start the flow of billions of dollars in stimulus money to stave off a recession which will be introduced to parliament next week.
Mr Morrison confirmed Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, will not be returning to Canberra for the debate.
He said any politicians diagnosed with the virus or in self-isolation will be granted a pair, meaning an opposite MP would abstain from voting.
Fearing more MPs will contract the deadly virus, Mr Morrison has also asked Attorney-General Christian Porter to review quorum arrangements which dictate the minimum number of MPs required for parliament to meet.
And for the first time in Australia's history, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg could be forced to hand down the May Budget to a near-empty chamber with non-essential political staff, tour groups and the general public told to stay away.
Yesterday, Labor confirmed frontbencher Tanya Plibersek was tested for coronavirus after attending a conference with someone who was later diagnosed with the illness. The test was negative.
Mr Morrison has insisted he will not be tested despite coming into contact with Peter Dutton last Tuesday in Cabinet. The Sunday Telegraph understands Mr Morrison sent a text message to all state and territory leaders on Friday night assuring them he wasn't sick after Mr Dutton's diagnosis was made public.
Mr Dutton, who remains in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital after testing positive to COVID-19, has revealed he is an asthmatic, considered a high-risk group, but told Sydney radio 2GB that he was "feeling much better".