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14 March 2020


Senator Rex Patrick today called on the Morrison Government to move without further delay to impose entry bans on foreign travellers from Europe as a further measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Australia.

“There are now more than 37,000 confirmed coronavirus cases across Europe”, Senator Patrick said.  “There are now some 17,600 cases in Italy, but the acceleration of the epidemic elsewhere in Europe is equally apparent. Today Spain has 4,300 cases, Germany 3,600, France 3,600, Switzerland 1,100 and the United Kingdom just short of 800 cases.  Even the tiny country of Denmark has over 800 cases. Europe is experiencing rapid community transmission and governments there are responding with increasingly strong social distancing measures.”

“Two days have passed since the United States announced the imposition of travel restrictions on Europe. In response to calls from Australian health experts for the immediate imposition of broader entry restrictions, Health Minister Greg Hunt indicated then that the Australian Government would consider a ban on foreign travellers from all European countries - not just Italy. However no announcement was made after yesterday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting.”

“The Morrison Government is slow to act, dragging its feet and waiting for others to take the lead. It’s a government engaged in half measures when overseas experience in containment, for example in Singapore and Hong Kong, has demonstrated the value of early and decisive action.”  

“Prime Minister Morrison should now move to impose the same entry restrictions on travellers from all European countries that have already been imposed in relation to China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.”

“Given the rapidly developing situation in the United States where the number of confirmed cases now exceeds 2,000, and a number of other countries, further entry restrictions will very likely also need to be imposed in the very near future.”

“Further entry restrictions would be entirely proportionate to the health threat Australia now faces.”

“By limiting entry of persons who may be infected, broader border entry restrictions and rigorous biosecurity measures will assist our health authorities in managing the situation here.”

“Community transmission in Australia is still at an early stage. Border control measures, especially entry bans, continue to be valuable in helping slow the spread of the infection here and hopefully reducing the peak of the epidemic.”