Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on Wednesday, announced that the government had issued an advisory banning international travel for all citizens.
Morrison made the announcement at a news conference as countries around the world close their borders and impose travel restrictions as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“We are upgrading the travel ban on Australians to level four for the entire world.
“That is the first time that has ever happened in Australia’s history.
“The travel advice to every Australian is not to travel abroad, do not go overseas.
“That is a very clear instruction,’’ he said.
The prime minister stated that the bulk of COVID-19 cases could be traced to Australian citizens returning from other countries, making a ban on foreign travel a crucial measure in curbing the disease’s spread.
“The biggest risk we have had and the biggest incidence of cases that we have had has been from Australians returning from overseas, from many countries that you wouldn’t have expected that to be a source,’’ he said.
The prime minister also announced additional measures to provide relief for the health care and aviation industries.
The government has announced that it would waive a number of regulatory changes for airlines.
It also announced that up to 20,000 international student nurses currently enrolled in programmes in Australia would be called upon to work in the country’s clinics and hospitals.
On Tuesday, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) President Harry Nespolon slammed reports of personal protective equipment shortages in Australia’s hospitals.
Speaking to The Guardian, Nespolon called any shortage of masks, gowns, gloves and eye-wear unacceptable.
Australia was one of the first territories outside of China to report a case of COVID-19, as the country confirmed its first diagnosis on Jan. 25.
The Australian Government Department of Health has confirmed 454 cases of the disease, an increase of 40 overnight.
Five people have died in Australia after contracting COVID-19 and 43 people have recovered from the disease.