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  • Writer's pictureTania Wee

Australia closes Borders for six months to stop coronavirus

Australia is closing its borders to foreigners and pumping about A$100 billion (49 billion pounds) into the economy as it seeks to minimise the blow from the coronavirus epidemic.

Australia has recorded around 600 coronavirus infections and six deaths, a relatively small number compared to other countries, but officials are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of an exponential rise in cases.

With the majority of the cases originating overseas, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday all non-Australian residents would be barred from entering the country from 9pm (1000 GMT) on Friday. In neighbouring New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the same measure almost simultaneously, with the ban on foreign arrivals there beginning on Thursday evening.

"For the next six months we need to work together," Morrison told Australians in a televised news conference. "We do need to moderate our behaviour and understand things need to change."

Morrison's office said the ban would remain indefinitely. Morrison said the government was working to keep some flights open, as national carrier Qantas and other airlines drastically cut or abandon international operations, to bring Australians home.

The small island state of Tasmania on Thursday imposed its own state of emergency, becoming the first region within Australia's borders to do so, ordering people who arrive from mainland Australia to self-isolate for 14 days.

Small Pacific islands, meanwhile, have reported nine confirmed cases of the virus. Most of the island nations, however, do not have the ability to screen for the virus, raising concerns its spread in the region is being masked.

Source: the Star, Daily Mail

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