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16 Apr 2020 | 05:13 AM UTC

Australia: Government announces lockdown extension April 16 /update 19

Prime Minister announces four-week extension of ongoing restrictions due to COVID-19 on April 16; follow government directives

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Event

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday, April 16, that the existing restrictions to curb the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will remain in place for an additional four weeks. Within the four-week period, authorities plan to significantly increase testing to identify any local COVID-19 outbreaks so that the government can implement a more focused response to cases in the country. At the end of four weeks, officials will re-evaluate the lockdown measures in place.

The ongoing nationwide restrictions in place include limits on public gatherings to only two people. Australians should remain at home unless buying essentials, exercising, going to work, or seeking medical care. Residents over 70 years of age have been asked to self-isolate. Individual states and territories are responsible for enforcing and deciding specific movement and business restrictions. Generally, non-essential services, and public spaces including bars, clubs, cinemas, gyms, indoor sporting venues, and places of worship remain closed. Supermarkets, shopping centers, office buildings, banks, petrol stations, pharmacies, and convenience stores are among the businesses allowed to remain open.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday, April 14, that the current state of emergency has been extended until at least Monday, May 11, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As of Thursday, April 16, some 1301 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state, the second highest in the country after New South Wales (NSW), with 2897 cases. Extending the state of emergency allows the state government to enforce current strict social distancing measures and other associated restrictions.

Air carrier Virgin Australia announced on Thursday, April 9, that most of its domestic flights will be temporarily suspended. As of Friday, April 10, the airline will only operate one daily route between Melbourne and Sydney from Sunday through Friday. For more information please see this website.

All Australian citizens returning from abroad will be quarantined in hotels for 14 days at the government's expense. Only Australian citizens, returning permanent residents and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia until further notice.

As of April 16, there are 6468 confirmed COVID-19 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, including 63 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.