Authorities in Queensland have announced that the state's borders are to be closed to arrivals from New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) from Saturday, August 8, following a rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. Residents returning from these areas will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period in hotels, at their own expense. Arrivals from Victoria state have already been banned. The move was reportedly taken following several incidents of individuals arriving in Queensland from Victoria after passing through NSW and ACT, and subsequently testing positive for COVID-19.
Queensland is currently in Stage 3 of its easing of COVID-19 measures. Gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted, with a restriction of one person per four square meters (43 square feet) in indoor public places. Sports facilities have reopened, as have most businesses. Events including up to 10,000 people are permitted provided organizers obtain relevant authorizations. Social distancing measures are in force, and face masks are strongly recommended.
Only Australian citizens, returning permanent residents, and their immediate family members are currently permitted to enter Australia, with few exceptions. All those entering the country are required to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility (typically a hotel) on arrival. Conditions of the quarantine period, including financial obligations, vary depending on the state or territory authority.
As of Wednesday, August 5, Queensland authorities have recorded over 1085 confirmed cases of the virus, and six associated fatalities. Throughout Australia, 18,730 cases have been reported, with 232 fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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).
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 the 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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