Australia tells citizens to reconsider all foreign travel

Australia tells citizens to reconsider all foreign travel, latest developments worldwide

Australia on Friday warned citizens the coronavirus pandemic is now so widespread that they should reconsider all foreign travel, as the government stepped up measures to slow the spread of the disease.


"We now advise all Australians to reconsider your need to travel overseas at this time, regardless of your destination, age or health," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The government had previously advised against travel to regional epicentres in China, Italy, South Korea and Iran.

After some reluctance, Morrison said a growing number of examples of community transmission within Australia also meant that the government would soon move to halt events of more than 500 people.

"By Monday," he said, "we will be advising against organised non-essential gatherings of persons of 500 people or greater."

Just hours earlier, Morrison had urged Australians to go to sports matches, and boasted he would do the same over the weekend.

His comments came even as the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne was cancelled and an international cricket fixture against New Zealand in Sydney was played beyond closed doors.

Morrison said the measures were precautionary and insisted he would still go to a rugby league match on Saturday as planned.  

"The fact that I would still be going on Saturday speaks not just to my passion for my beloved Sharks, it might be the last game I get to go to for a long time. That's fine," he said. 

Australia has 184 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a number that has been increasing daily, and has seen three deaths.

READ: Disney closes US and Paris theme parks, delays 'Mulan' over virus

Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis: 

- More than 131,460 cases - 

Since the novel coronavirus first emerged in late December 2019, more than 131,479 cases have been recorded in 116 countries and territories, killing 4,925 people, according to an AFP tally compiled at 1700 GMT on Thursday based on official sources. 

The worst affected countries are mainland China with 80,793 cases, with 3,169 deaths and 62,793 people cured. Italy follows with 15,113 cases and 1,016 deaths, Iran (10,075 cases, 429 deaths and Spain 2,968 cases and 84 deaths).

The British government said between 5,000 and 10,000 people in the UK could be infected, while the official rate is 590.

- US closes door to Europeans -

US President Donald Trump announces a 30-day ban on travel from mainland Europe, not including Britain, in a primetime TV address from the Oval Office.

Bolivia and Venezuela also suspend flights from Europe for a month.

- Stock exchanges panic -

Stock exchanges in Milan, Paris and Madrid  make historic plunges at close, and London and Frankfurt record their worst closing in 30 years. In Wall Street the main indexes also plummet.

ALSO READ:Catholic churches across Rome shut due to virus

The European Central Bank leaves key interest rates unchanged and says the coronavirus has added a "new and substantial" source of risk to the economy.

The International Monetary Fund says world growth in 2020 will be lower than 2019.

- Restrictions, closures -

French President Emmanuel Macron announces schools, universities and creches in France would close from next week "until further notice" and urges people over 70 to stay at home.

Slovakia bans entry to all foreigners, except Poles, and the Czech Republic bans entry by people from 15 countries.

Germany bolsters controls at its border with France.

Italy closes all shops considered non-essential, while Spain puts four towns in the northeastern Catalonia region under quarantine. 

Rome's Ciampino airport will close from Friday, and that of Fiumicino, which handles international flights, will see its activity reduced from March 17.

Ireland closes schools, universities and cultural institutions from Friday until March 29.

Sri Lanka will also close its schools, bringing forward the holidays by three weeks.

Kazakhstan closes schools, cinemas and universities and cancels all public events.

The Netherlands closes the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, while in New York the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York are also closed.

New York bans gatherings of more than 500 people, including Broadway.

- Figures quarantined -

Tom Hanks becomes the first Hollywood star to be infected, and is placed in quarantine in an Australian hospital after testing positive, as does his wife Rita Wilson.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau works from home, while awaiting the results of tests on his wife.

All members of the Spanish government will be tested, after equality minister Irene Montero is infected.

- Sport and leisure disrupted -

Basketball comes to a halt around the world, with the suspension of US, European and international competitions, while in the US the National Hockey League halts its season.

The Spanish football league is suspended for at least two weeks, and the Real Madrid football and basketball teams are placed in quarantine.

The final races of the men's alpine skiing World Cup at Kranjska Gora at the weekend are scrapped.

- Working from home -

The US social media network Twitter orders all its employees around the world to work from home.

The European Commission orders its employees to work from home from Monday.

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