Australia warns that it cannot stop the spread of coronavirus from abroad
SYDNEY: The chief medical officer of Australia said on Monday that it was no longer possible to completely avoid people entering the country, citing concerns about outbreaks in Japan and South Korea.
Australia, one of the first countries to place restrictions on its borders in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, confirmed its first death from the disease on Sunday.
It is no longer possible to absolutely prevent the arrival of new cases, Brendan Murphy, medical director of Australia, told reporters in Canberra.
We have concerns about Japan and South Korea. They are working hard to control their outbreaks, but we are still worried that people in those countries and other high-risk countries may get an infection.
Australia has reported 29 cases of coronavirus, including the death of the weekend, but there has been no community transmission.
The 78-year-old man who died was a passenger on the Diamond Princess ship that was held on the coast of Japan for weeks. The man and his wife, who also has the virus, were transferred back to Australia for treatment.
Australia prohibited the entry of February 1 to any foreigner who has traveled through China in the two weeks prior to their arrival in Australia. He extended that ban to Iran on Sunday. Both prohibitions are in effect until at least March 7. Australian citizens and permanent residents are exempt.
China, the epicenter of the outbreak, retains most infections with more than 86,500 cases. However, since then it has spread to 53 countries, with more than 6,500 cases and more than 100 deaths.
Most deaths outside of China come from outbreaks in recent days in South Korea, Italy and Iran.
Murphy said travel bans were a way of slowing things down, and urged Australians returning from Italy or South Korea who work in the health sector to quarantine for two weeks.
However, he said that outbreaks in Italy and South Korea, although large, were confined and located, which meant no further travel bans to Australia were necessary.
Thousands of Chinese visitors and students have been banned from entering Australia, damaging the country's important tourism and education sectors at a critical time for the country's $ 2 billion ($ 1.31 billion) economy.
Some economists have warned that economic growth could be reversed in the current quarter if the epidemic becomes a pandemic, threatening the long period of expansion without recession of almost three decades of the country.