Coronavirus: Australia orders all arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days

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People wear masks at Melbourne's airport, Australia. Photo: 13 March 2020Image source, EPA
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Domestic flights will not be affected by the new measures, the Australian government says

Australia's prime minister has ordered a 14-day self-isolation for anyone arriving in the country to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

"This is very important," Scott Morrison said at a briefing, adding that the measure would take effect from midnight on Sunday (13:00 GMT).

The measures mirror those announced by New Zealand on Saturday.

Foreign cruise liners will also be banned from docking in Australia for 30 days, but schools will remain open.

Australia has reported nearly 250 confirmed cases, with three deaths.

What did Scott Morrison say?

The prime minister announced the measures following a cabinet meeting on the coronavirus crisis.

"This is very important, what we've seen in recent weeks is more countries having issues with the virus and that means the source of some of those transmissions are coming from more and more countries," he said at the briefing in Sydney.

"We know that the virus cannot be absolutely stopped - no-one can do that - but we can slow the spread.

"And we anticipate that will be our task over the next six months."

Image source, EPA
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Scott Morrison said the cabinet would meet again on Tuesday to discuss possible further measures

He urged people to practise more "social distancing", including not shaking hands.

Mr Morrison said that despite all the changes he hoped Australians would not lose their "sense of Australianness".

Appearing alongside him, Australia's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy admitted that these were "difficult times" for the country.

He called on Australians to be sensible when buying necessities, warning against panic buying.

They had been earlier evacuated from China's Hubei province, where the outbreak is believed to have started late last year.