COVID-19: Australian Government urges return to the country as soon as possible

Mar 18, 2020

Australia's Foreign Ministry issued a travel recommendation to residents and citizens abroad to return to the country as soon as possible via commercial airlines.

The reason is the increasing closure of borders around the world and an increased risk of being infected with the new coronavirus, which has caused almost 8,000 deaths and infected about 180,000 people on the planet.

The last border closure was announced by the European Union, whose measure will be applied for 30 days.

"As countries begin to close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, travel abroad is becoming increasingly complex and difficult," said the statement from the Foreign Ministry (DFAT).

“Possibly you will not be able to return to Australia as you had planned. (Then) consider whether you have access to health care and support systems in case you become ill while abroad. If you decide to return to Australia, do so as soon as possible. "

This alert comes after the Australian government last week advised its residents and citizens to weigh the need to travel abroad. Likewise, on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that since Monday, people entering the country, either by land or sea, must undergo a mandatory 14-day self-confinement.

Likewise, airlines have strongly cut their international flights. Qantas, for example, cut them by 90 percent and Air New Zealand by 85%.

Virgin Australia announced today the cancellation of all its international flights.

Australia has also ordered the cancellation of all ANZAC day ceremonies abroad.

The Foreign Ministry (DFAT) also noted that consular assistance will be limited due to restrictions imposed in various nations and territories of the planet due to this pandemic that has motivated quarantine in several countries, where the systems toilets have strong pressures and compared to those in Australia they may have fewer resources and capacity.

 A race against time in Australia

 Australia has recorded five deaths and around half a thousand infections, although the number varies rapidly. The state of New South Wales, especially Sydney, has the highest number of cases of COVID-19 infections.

Last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison chaired a national cabinet meeting and is expected to issue several announcements on the fight against COVID-19 on the day, which will be supported by the recommendations of his medical team.

The restrictions include restrictions on visits to nursing homes, as well as measures regarding schools and the maximum number of people gathered in a place, which is currently 500. This will affect restaurants, bars, and cinemas.

Likewise, a large number of universities have suspended face-to-face classes and maintains those that are taught online.

The battle against the spread of COVID-19 has motivated a sector of experts in endemic diseases and public health policies to ask the government to order a national quarantine like those in Italy, Spain or Peru to prevent the collapse of hospitals.

 Given the increase in new cases in Australia, where some 800,000 people have been tested for the new coronavirus, packages to take the COVID-19 tests have started to become scarce.

This week, the arrival of almost 100,000 new COVID-19 test kits is expected, which will also give results in three hours. Unlike existing tests, these kits arrive ready to use and do not have to be assembled in the laboratory.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said Tuesday that, in addition to importing more internationally manufactured equipment, the government is looking to expand the use of recently developed alternative tests in Australian laboratories.

"The goal is to have more evidence and more types so that we can avoid any disruption to the large-scale evidence regime that we have in Australia," Hunt told reporters.

The Melbourne Doherty Institute has created an internal test method made of different components for international commercial test equipment, which the Government hopes to extend to other laboratories.

According to projections, in the worst case, some 150,000 Australians could die from COVID-19.

According to the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society, the country only has 2,000 ventilated intensive care beds, which is what patients severely affected by the new coronavirus will need.

 Suspension of services

Australia's streets look emptier due to social distancing regulations.

This has forced the Federal Court, for example, to cancel all cases that require people to be in court starting today to decrease the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

The Family Court registry on Goulburn Street in Sydney will reopen today after being closed for cleanliness at the behest of a lawyer who tested positive for COVID-19, according to local ABC network.

Furthermore, all new jury trials by the Supreme Court and District Court of New South Wales remain suspended until further notice.

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