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14 Mar 2020 | 02:25 AM UTC

Australia: Government limits large gatherings due to COVID-19 March 16 /update 10

Australia News Alert

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces ban on gatherings of more than 500 people from March 16 due to COVID-19; adhere to government directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 3/13/2020, 12:00 AM until 5/31/2020, 11:59 PM (Australia/Melbourne). COUNTRY/REGION Australia

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday, March 13, that all non-essential public gatherings of more than 500 people are banned from Monday, March 16, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The 2020 Australian Grand Prix scheduled on Sunday, March 15, in Melbourne has subsequently been canceled. The directive does not include public transport, educational institutes, businesses, commercial centers, or hospitals. Some businesses are enforcing work-from-home policies.

Prime Minister Morrison also reminded all individuals of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) current Level 3 travel alert for all overseas travel advising to "reconsider your need for overseas travel at this time." DFAT's red warnings (advising "Do Not Travel") remain in place as of Saturday, March 14, for China, Iran, and the 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.

As of Wednesday, March 11, all 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. This is in addition to entry bans for foreign nationals traveling from or through mainland China, Iran, and South Korea. Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from the aforementioned countries will be required to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine.

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 06:30 (local time) on March 14, the Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 197 cases of COVID-19 nationwide and three associated fatalities. With 91 confirmed cases, New South Wales state has the highest number of recorded cases as of March 14. 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 March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

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 nonessential 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, 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.


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