Australia launches emergency plan ahead of likely pandemic

28 Février, 2020, 08:08 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a state memorial honouring victims of the Australian bushfires at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, February 23, 2020.

"We have a strong, stable financial base to address this, but we can't kid ourselves that the impact of the coronavirus globally, here in Australia, is not going to be significant", Mr Morrison said.

Coronavius has infected about 80,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.

Morrison said the virus was having a "very real" impact on the current quarter, but reiterated that the government wouldn't deploy a fiscal-type response to shore up the economy.

But if the virus does start to spread in Australia, "we won't be dragging people off" like China has done.

"We need to take the steps necessary to prepare for such a pandemic".

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State and federal health ministers are meeting today to discuss emergency plans, including sweeping powers for governments if an outbreak occurs.

Hunt is working closely with his state counterparts to make sure there are stockpiles of medicines and protective equipment for hospitals and border agents and that supply chains are protected.

Overnight on Thursday the World Health Organisation said the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China's Hubei province in December, had reached a "decisive point" and urged countries to redouble efforts to contain its spread.

There has been no community transmission of the virus in Australia. A further eight people remain in hospital after they were found to have contracted the coronavirus following evacuation from a cruise ship in Japan.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that there is no need for the citizens to avoid public gatherings in the country amid threat of coronavirus epidemic.

The ban has prevented thousands of visitors and students from travelling to Australia - significantly damaging Australia's important tourism and education sectors.

"You can still go to the football, you can still go to the cricket, you can still go and play with your friends down the street, you can go off to the concert, and you can go out for a Chinese meal", he added.

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