Australia extends COVID-19 travel ban to all non-residents

19th Mar, 2020 | Tourism Mail Crew

CANBERRA :  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has closed the nation's borders for all visitors as COVID-19 is spreading globally.

Travelers who are not residents or citizens of Australia will be banned from entering the country from 9 p.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) on Friday, said Morrison at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Citizens and residents wishing to enter the country will be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

"About 80 percent of the cases we have in Australia are either the results of someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas," Morrison told reporters.

"So, the overwhelming proportion of cases in Australia have been imported. Measures we have put in place have obviously put an impact on that and this is a further measure now that can be further enhanced."

According to the Department of Health of the Australian government, there have been 565 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 6:30 a.m. local time Thursday, a 24 percent increase from the day before.

Of all the cases, 259, or more than 45 percent, were considered to be overseas acquired, mostly from the United States, Iran, Italy and Britain.

The travel ban followed declaration of an unprecedented human biosecurity emergency on Wednesday. Australians were warned to stay at home and not to travel abroad.

Qantas and Virgin Australia, two major airlines, have announced to suspend their international flights.

Hours before the prime minister's press conference, the Reserve Bank of Australia announced an emergency interest rate cut to a record-low 0.25 percent. (Xinhua)