South Australia closed its border at midnight (local time) on Tuesday, July 28, banning anyone, including South Australians, from entering the state from neighbouring Victoria. The tougher curbs on border entry were announced on July 24, after Premier Steven Marshall said the vast majority of South Australia's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the past two weeks had come from Victoria. Exemptions will apply to essential workers. The closure applies to both land and air travel.
Social distancing restrictions and other local measures are still in place across Australia with a number of variations. Authorities in Victoria announced on July 22 that the wearing of facemasks in Melbourne is mandatory. The measure will also be applied from the same date in the Mitchell Shire, which includes the towns of Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour, Tallarook, Pyalong, and Wallan. Those who are found in violation of the directive may be issued with a 200 AUD (140 USD) fine. Additionally, the health minister announced that Victoria's state of emergency has been extended to August 16.
All international travellers entering Australia need to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility (for example a hotel) at their port of arrival. This is arranged by individual State and Territory governments. Similarly, all Australian citizens and residents returning from abroad are being 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 Wednesday, July 29, there have been 15,583 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with 176 associated fatalities. Further international 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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.
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