The coronavirus which appeared in December 2019 in China is today a global issue. It has crossed borders and several countries are now in complete isolation to stop the spread of the virus. Since the 15th of March 2020, the Australian Prime Minister has announced the implementation of strong measures to slow the spread of the virus in the country. Here are some information on the measures implemented to date, knowing that that will still evolve in the coming days.
Measures implemented by Australia
Foreigners entering Australia
From 9pm on 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia. Borders are closed for all other citizens.
All travellers to Australia are required to self-isolate for 14 days, either at home or in a hotel.
Domestic flights are still operating at the moment. However be aware that most states and territories have implemented a compulsory 14 days self isolation when entering their borders. International flights are extremely limited and will continue decrease over the next few days.
Shut down of non-essential services
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that from 23 March 2020 midday, all non essential services will shut down.
Non essential services include : pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and places of worship. Restaurants and cafes will have to switch to takeaway only or home deliveries.
Essential services that will continue running include : supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies and home delivery services.
Compulsory self-isolation for 14 days
States and Territories are implementing new measures to protect their boarders. Last week, Tasmania closed its border and imposed a 14 days self isolation for incoming travellers.
South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory will close their borders from Tuesday. Under the new rules, anyone arriving will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days. Queensland is to follow within the next few days.
What is self isolation ?
During the 14 days of isolation, you must stay at home or in your hotel and don’t go to public places including work, school, childcare, university or public gatherings. Only people who usually live with you should be in the home. Do not see visitors. If you are in a hotel, avoid contact with other guests or staff. Ask others who are not in isolation to get food and necessities for you. When in isolation, monitor yourself for symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath.
Schools and public spaces
Schools and daycares remain open for the time being. Parents can choose to keep their children at home. People are encouraged to avoid physical contacts. Social distancing is paramount. Some schools organise different collection times for classes to avoid too many people being gathered at the same time. Ask your establishment for more information.
Victoria has decided to begin school holidays earlier on March 24 instead of March 27.
Regarding public places and to avoid public gathering, the government has toughened the rules and many places where gatherings were possible are now closed. Among them Bondi Beach, lookouts on the Great Ocean Road or even National parks. In Queensland, officials are discussing closing the beaches.
As at 15 March 2020 the Australian Government restricted all cruise ships from entering Australia for 30 days, inclusive of direct arrivals and Round Trip Cruises.
Further measures to come
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly announced that Australia needs to take precautions. Indeed, the country will enter the winter season, which will be a bigger issue with the virus. Currently, the Covid19 is circulating throughout the entire country. The aim is to mitigate the effects of the epidemic wave. Some more changes are planned for the coming weeks and months and a total isolation and locked downs, are currently being discussed for Australia nationwide. Since March 18, the authorities have prohibited Australian nationals from leaving the territory. People are therefore ‘invited’ to cancel all trips abroad. Internal flights are expected to remain in place for the time being.
According to the Australian government, it is now important to reduce the spread of the virus to ensure continuity of care for all. Thus, many states close their borders and it is very likely that containment will take place in the coming days. Keep updated on the official website.
Information for Working Holiday Visa Makers
Last week, the European Union, the Schengen area and the United Kingdom have closed their external borders. This closure affects all countries outside the European Union. However, nationals from european countries can still join their home country.
A number of airline operators are starting to announce that international flights to/from Australia have been suspended or will be suspended within the next few days.
Countries urge their citizens to return home. For British citizens, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel worldwide due to unprecedented international border closures. British nationals already in Australia should contact their airline, travel provider and insurance company for the latest travel information. Those who want to return to the UK soon should take account of the fast moving situation and plan accordingly. If you are unable to leave Australia and your visa is nearing expiry, you should contact the Australian authorities as soon as possible.
Check out our dedicated article : Covid 19 – Australia Travel Info / Work and Travel
What is the Coronavirus ?
In late December 2019, in China, doctors began to see a new type of viral pneumonia for a few people who worked, or had visited a market in the Wuhan province. This disease, called Covid-19, is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a virus that belongs to the coronavirus family.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They can cause illnesses ranging from a simple cold to more severe pathologies such as MERS-COV or SARS.
The virus identified in January 2020 in China is a new Coronavirus, it has been named COVID-19 by World Health Organization. Since the 11th of March 2020, WHO has described the global situation of COVID-19 as a pandemic; that is to say that the epidemic now affects 137 countries over a large area.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms include chills, body aches, runny nose and muscle pain.
If you develop any of these symptoms within 14 days of being in contact with a person infected with the virus, it is recommended that you consult a general practitioner. You should telephone the health clinic or hospital before you arrive and tell them your travel history or that you have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus. You can also call the National Coronavirus Help Line on 1800 020 080 for advice. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How is Covid19 transmitted ?
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Across the world there have been more than 300 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 13 900 deaths. There have been 1,479 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia so far (23 march 2020).
Best way to protect yourself and others
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and anyone you are talking to.
Wash your hands regularly
Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water. If you do not have access to water, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing
Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Stay at home
Stay at home ! Even if the Australian government has not yet announced confinement, limit your travels ! The less you move the less the virus circulates. Moreover, be aware that Non-essential businesses are closing their doors on March 23 to limit the spread.