Australians are set to face a new string of travel bans, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly begins talks about expanding further restrictions on Italy and South Korea.
On Monday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the travel advisory for Italy had been raised to a level two for the whole of the country, and a level three – which urges travellers to reconsider their plans entirely – for selected towns in the north of the country. Across South Korea and Italy, the total cases for coronavirus has reached 8000.
That new ban, however, could now be lifted to the same restriction that’s been put on China and Iran, as the number of Australian cases of coronavirus surges to 50.
Currently, Australians returning from Italy and South Korea have been asked to self-quarantine if they work in the health or aged care sectors.
On Saturday, Australia announced they would ban foreign travellers arriving from Iran, the country with the highest death rate from coronavirus outside of China. The ban also extends to China, which Australians have also been told not to travel to since mid-February.
The ban means that any foreign nationals coming from Iran will be forced to spend a fortnight in a third country before being allowed into Australia. Australian citizens and permanent residents, however, will need to isolate themselves for a fortnight after returning from Iran.
“They (Iran) have the highest death rate … outside of Hubei (province in China),” Mr Hunt said at a media conference last week.
“There is likely at this stage a high level of undetected cases, and therefore those cases won’t be intercepted or identified on departure from Iran.”
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Hunt said the potential new bans on Italy and South Korea, which will be discussed with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on Thursday, will take the “strong action” if instructed to do so.
This goes against Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy’s downplay of any further bans being applied to other restrictions.
“We have cases spreading in many countries and it’s not possible to further isolate Australia,” he said. “We can’t be putting on travel bans and quarantine requirements from every country that develops this virus.”
More to come.