The national cabinet will consider a new mental health pandemic plan at its meeting on Friday morning, as concern grows about the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The greatest focus will fall on people who are struggling with the mental pressure of the coronavirus, and a boost of support services.

Leaders will also receive an economic update from the heads of Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the superannuation sector watchdog.

Almost 600,000 Australians lost their jobs between March and April.

The jobless rate rose to 6.2 per cent and was accompanied by a record fall in the number of people who either have work or are looking for it.

Another six million workers are now covered by the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, including many who have been stood down but aren’t officially counted as unemployed.

The meeting comes as the Victorian government is set to publish modelling on Friday that warns that, without decisive action, an extra 370,000 people in the state will seek treatment or be hospitalised in the next three years as a result of mental health problems related to the coronavirus emergency.

It is also feared there will be hundreds more deaths to suicide each year.

Around the country, most states have made the first steps into a three-stage easing of coronavirus restrictions.

NSW has recorded eight new cases of the virus on Friday as pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants open their doors to 10 patrons at a time.

Ten guests are now allowed at weddings in the state, 20 at indoor funerals and up to 30 at outdoor services.

The number of cases in Australia is nearing 7000 with about 6300 of those recovered, while the death toll is 98.

Health experts have offered advice to leaders about how people can safely use public transport and return to workplaces.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth says Australia is in a unique position with very few cases of coronavirus that aren’t linked to known clusters or transmission chains.

Testing blitzes across the country – with 34,000 tests done in the 24 hours to Thursday alone – have given officials confidence there are few undetected cases in the community.

“But that increased mobility, of course, means increased contact between people,” Dr Coatsworth said.

“As we all have discussions with our employers about getting back into the workplace, we naturally turn our minds to things like returning to public transport, returning to shared communal areas, areas that we all know it is difficult to maintain physical distance within.”

Only so much could be done through regulation and every Australian had personal responsibility for maintaining hygiene and keeping a physical distance from others, he said.

If you need someone to talk to, call:
Lifeline on 13 11 14 – Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 – MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 – Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 – Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 – Headspace on 1800 650 890 – QLife on 1800 184 527

-with AAP

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