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Australia imposes overseas travel ban, limits gatherings to contain COVID-19 pandemic

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

Australia on Tuesday imposed overseas travel ban using biosecurity powers and limited gatherings at weddings and funerals as it stepped up efforts to control the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus that has infected over 2,000 people in the country.

The virus has claimed the lives of eight people in Australia after a 70-year-old woman died of the disease on Tuesday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said the Smart Traveller do not travel advice was now no longer a warning, but an order, according to a report in The West Australian.

That will turn into a ban using the biosecurity powers that were afforded to us by the Governor-General through the Minister for Health, he was quoted as saying in the report.

The Australian ministry of health defines biosecurity as all the measures taken to minimise the risk of infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria or other micro-organisms that can harm people, food security and economy of the country.

"People shouldn't be doing it right now," he said in a press briefing after the Cabinet meeting.

"No one should be getting on a plane and going overseas. We have been making the point for some time," he said.

Morrison also limited gatherings with only five people allowed at weddings and 10 at funerals.

He also announced closure of services like real estate auctions, open house inspections, arcades, galleries, museums and play centres.

"People should stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary they go out," he said, urging people to keep visitors to their homes to an "absolute minimum.

"People should not congregate together in groups, inside or outside," he said.

The state of New South Wales have reported 818 confirmed cases, while Victoria recorded 64 new cases, taking the total number of infections in the state to 411.

It is also estimated that over two million Australians could lose their jobs following the coronavirus crisis.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 24 2020. 19:52 IST