Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced a ban on all non-essential gatherings of over 500 people starting from Monday and urged citizens to reconsider foreign travel to limit the rapid spread of coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 5,000 people.
Morrison said the ban would not be extended to schools, universities, public transport or airports.
“It is a precautionary (measure). It is getting ahead of this to ensure that we can minimise the impact on your health and (so) we can ensure with confidence the ability for people to be accessing the health services that they and their families will need,” he said.
The prime minister also advised the citizens not to travel overseas unless it is essential.
“We now advise all Australians to reconsider your need to travel overseas at this time, regardless of your destination, age or health,” Morrison said.
“If your travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time,” he said.
A total of 196 coronavirus cases have now been confirmed across Australia.
New South Wales has reported 92 cases, apart from 36 in Victoria, 35 in Queensland, 12 in South Australia, 14 in Western Australia, four in Tasmania, one each in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Three people have died due to the coronavirus outbreak. Morrison’s remarks came after several high-profile events, including Robbie Williams’ Melbourne show and the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne were cancelled.
Cricket Australia has confirmed Australia’s three-game ODI series against New Zealand will be played without spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground and in Hobart.
Travel bans for travellers from Italy, South Korea, Iran and China have been extended for another week as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise.
The Federal Government on Thursday released a USD 11 billion economic stimulus package in a bid to curb the impact of coronavirus and keep Australia out of a recession.
The deadly coronavirus virus that first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has claimed 4,925 lives and infected 131,500 people across 116 countries and territories.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday characterised the COVID-19 outbreak as a “pandemic” and expressed deep concern over its “alarming levels” of “spread, severity, as well as inaction”.