Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the number of people permitted to enter Australia would be lifted from 4000 per week to 6000 per week from Friday, September 25. The move has been taken to facilitate the repatriation of an estimated 27,000 Australians that have been stranded abroad since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the government still requires the agreement of individual states who will have to house the new arrivals in quarantine facilities. As of Saturday, September 19, Queensland and Western Australia have agreed to take in an extra 200 weekly arrivals from September 27, with this number rising to 500 by early October, and New South Wales will accept 500 additional arrivals from September 27. South Australia has announced it intends to increase quarantine facilities by 360 beds, although officials have not given a time-frame for the increase.
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.
Australian authorities announced on September 3 that a ban on international travel and cruise ship restrictions has been extended by three months until December 17, due to a recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
As of September 19, there have been 26,885 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with 844 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).
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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