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Morrison warns citizens as coronavirus cases cross 1,600 in Australia

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday warned the country's citizens that the health crisis due to the COVID-19 infection could last at least six months as the number of cases has crossed 1,600 in the country due to the novel coronavirus which was wreaking economic havoc.

The cases have crossed 1,640 in the country with 669 in New South Wales, 355 in Victoria, 319 in Queensland, 140 in Western Australia, 100 in South Australia, 22 in Tasmania, 19 in the Australian Capital Territory and five in the Northern Territory.

"Australians will be living with this virus for at least the next six months. It could be longer. There is no three or four week shutdown that makes it all goes away. No short term solution to all of this," Morrison said.

"We have to steel ourselves for the next six months and work together to slow the spread in order to save lives," he said and urged people to respect and follow the healthy social distancing measures set out by the health authorities.

A national Cabinet chaired by Morrison along with all state leaders on Sunday decided to shutdown none essential facilities like pubs, indoor sporting venues, hotels (excluding accommodation), gyms, Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs while restaurants and cafes have been restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery.

"No more going to the pub after work. No more going to the gym in the morning. No more sitting down for brunch at a cafe. These changes are vital to slow the spread of this virus to save lives," he said.

Morrison also stressed that the government would not be complacent and may need and were likely to impose further restrictions on daily lives as the virus spread grows further.

He called the pandemic as an unprecedented challenge which was a once in a 100 year event.

The coronavirus was wreaking economic havoc, he said.

"For many, young and old, 2020 will be the toughest year of our lives," he said.

The government has announced limits on outdoor and indoor mass gatherings, non-essential indoor gatherings to less than one person per four-square metres and where possible, keeping 1.5 metres between each individual.

In Victoria, the state premier Daniel Andrews announced closure of all pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and places of worship including shutting down schools from Tuesday.

Sixty-one new cases of coronavirus were confirmed on Monday morning bringing the state's total to 355 cases.

The NSW which confirmed 136 new cases has a highest number of confirmed cases at 669 as of Monday.

Queensland which would join other states - Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory - in taking measures to close its borders recorded surge in new cases.

Total number of cases in Western Australia stood at 140 with a majority of them with a travel history.

Queensland confirmed cases stood at over 319 with 60 new cases while Tasmania had 22 confirmed with no community transmission cases so far.

According to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, the death toll from the virus globally has risen to 14,641 with 336,000 cases reported in 173 countries and territories.

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

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 11:32 IST
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