ICYMI: The Australian Government is sending an official text message to mobile phones across Australia, urging people to practise social distancing and to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.

The text messages were sent out this morning across the country, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeting an image of what the text message will look like.

“Please listen and act so we can save lives,” he tweeted.

You can find the government’s latest updates on the coronavirus in Australia via the link in the text message.

I haven’t received the text myself (I’m with Optus), but others on Twitter have and apparently it’s coming from Telstra instead of a government agency.

While fronting media on Wednesday, Morrison was asked if the lack of detail in the text message – to simply “stay home if sick” – undermines the advice he gave on Tuesday night, instructing all Australians to stay home except for essential school, work, grocery shopping, health, and exercise.

Morrison disagreed, saying the text message was designed to send out the most urgent message.

“The most urgent message that we’re getting for people to stay home is to stay home if you’re sick,” he said. “That is the most important urgent message. It is also important that people should stay home when they’re in self-isolation, and as I said last night, our preference and our instruction is more generally – stay home unless you’re going out for essentials.

“But the most dangerous thing that you can do, and we know of people who are sick and have sought to go to pharmacies. And that is vey dangerous,” he continued. “And so the most important part of the message that we’re seeking to get out is that message.”

Morrison said there will be more text messages in the foreseeable future, “using those sort of mechanisms, and we are further upgrading that capability.”

Image: AAP / SAM MOOY