On Sunday, March 29, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that public gatherings will be limited to two people, and Australians should remain at home unless buying essentials, exercising, going to work, or seeking medical care, in efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Residents over 70 years have been asked to self-isolate. It has been left to individual states and territories to decide what kind of enforcement measures will be implemented.
As of 00:01 (local time) on Saturday, March 28, all Australian citizens returning from abroad will be quarantined in hotels for 14 days at the government's expense. Military personnel will help carry out these measures.
As of Monday, March 30, previously announced measures including the suspension of 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 amongst the businesses allowed to remain open. Cafés and restaurants are allowed to remain open, but only for take-out and delivery services.
As of Monday, March 30, 4203 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, alongside 17 associated fatalities and 244 recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming weeks.
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.
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.