Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Wednesday, March 11, that foreign nationals traveling from or through Italy in the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to Australia will be denied entry to the country due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is in addition to entry bans for foreign nationals traveling from or through mainland China, Iran, and South Korea. The government has said that it will discuss on Thursday, March 12, extending the existing travel entry bans that are due to expire on Saturday, March 14. Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from the aforementioned countries will be required to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) updated its travel advisory on Wednesday warning individuals "Do Not Travel" to Lombardy region or the Italian provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio nell' Emilia, Rimini, Pesaro and Urbino, Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Verceli, Padova, Treviso, and Venezia. The DFAT has issued an orange warning (advising individuals to reconsider their need to travel) for the rest of Italy. Red warnings (advising "Do Not Travel") remain in place for China and Iran, while an orange warning remains in place for South Korea, and yellow warnings (advising individuals to exercise a high degree of caution) for Japan and Mongolia.
Qantas Airways has reduced and canceled a number of its international flight routes between late-March and September to meet changing demand. More detailed information can be found on the airline's website here.
As of 11:00 (local time) on Wednesday, the Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 112 cases of COVID-19 nationwide and three associated fatalities. With 60 confirmed cases, New South Wales state has the highest number of recorded cases on March 11. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
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 February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.
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 non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.