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More Aussies can be tested for coronavirus


More Australians can now be tested for coronavirus as even tighter restrictions come into place to slow the spread of the illness.

Anyone with a fever or acute respiratory infection who works in health care or aged care can now be tested for the virus.

So too can people living in areas with an elevated risk of community transmission, or where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases.

This takes in aged and residential care, rural and remote Aboriginal communities, detention centres, boarding schools, and military bases that have live-in accommodation.

The Australian Medical Association says the testing criteria should be even broader, so as to better understand the virus.

Australia has been placed into an even tighter lockdown as governments desperately try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Further restrictions on businesses, community facilities and public spaces came into effect at midnight.

Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie wants the nation to go into a full lockdown by midnight Friday.

"For goodness sake prime minister, we don't want any more 35 minutes of your dribble, please make a decision that a leader would make," she told Nine.

"Play it safe mate and put us into lockdown unless it is for essential services, please."

Existing restrictions will inevitably lead to wider job losses as more businesses are forced to close.

Unprecendented scenes of thousands of people queuing at Centrelink offices around the country have underscored the scale of the issue.

Economists predict 814,000 Australians will be added to dole queues before the end of June.

A total of 2423 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Australia as at 3pm on Wednesday.

Australia's death toll rose to nine after a 68-year-old man died in Queensland.

Of those with the virus, 197 people are in hospital with 17 in intensive care.

More than 169,000 people have been tested so far.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said one sick person could lead to 400 more contracting the disease within a month if they didn't stick to distancing and quarantine measures.

All non-urgent elective surgery has been put on indefinite hold in a bid to free up capacity across the hospital system.

"The most urgent message ... is to stay home if you're sick, " Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

"Our instruction (to healthy people) is, more generally, stay home unless you're going out for essentials."

The government is sending text messages telling Australians: "Stop the spread, stay 1.5m from others, follow rules on social gatherings, wash hands, stay home if sick".

Open house inspections and auctions are banned, as are personal services such as beauty therapy, waxing, tattoo parlours and massage.

Most community facilities will also close, including libraries, swimming pools, RSL clubs, galleries and community centres.

Weddings will be restricted to the couple, celebrant and two witnesses only, but funerals are allowed a maximum of 10 mourners.

State governments will also be policing social gatherings in public spaces and in people's houses.

The government has also used biosecurity laws to ban Australians from travelling overseas.

© AAP 2020