Australians who are overseas have been told by the government that if they want to get home, they need to do so as soon as possible due to the rapidly escalating travel crisis over the global coronavirus pandemic.
The SmartTraveller.gov.au website issued the advice on Wednesday to all those living or travelling abroad, along with its highest level warning not to leave Australia.
“We now advise all Australians: do not travel overseas at this time. This is our highest advice level (level 4 of 4),” the site states in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak gripping the world.
“If you are already overseas and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means.”
The warning applies to all destinations, including the United Kingdom and the United States. It also recommends taking in to account access to local medical services when making a decision, and advises that consular help may become limited.
“Regardless of your destination, age or health, our advice is do not travel at this time,” SmartTraveller.gov.au states.
“As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult. You may not be able to return to Australia when you had planned to. Consider whether you have access to health care and support systems if you get sick while overseas. If you decide to return to Australia, do so as soon as possible. Commercial options may become less available.
“If you are overseas and cannot, or do not want to, return to Australia, follow the advice of local authorities. Take care to minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus including by self-isolating. If you choose to stay, note our ability to provide consular assistance in some places may be limited due to restrictions on movement and other services.”
It follows the earlier declaration that all people arriving in Australia from overseas, including Australian citizens, are required to self-isolate for 14-days, which came in to effect at midnight on Sunday.
Airlines cutting services
The stark warning comes as countries around the world implement evermore draconian travel restrictions in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus which leads to the potentially fatal disease known as COVID-19.
The restrictions have forced airlines to drastically cut services, with many predicted to fold as a result. Australian carriers Qantas and Jetstar have already announced their international capacity will be cut by around 90% until the end of May at the least.
Australian coronavirus cases mount
In Australia the coronavirus case rate is rising rapidly. By Wednesday morning the total number of people confirmed in the country with COVID-19 stood at 454 with five deaths. Almost almost half of those cases were in New South Wales, with 210. By Wednesday evening, that state’s cases had reportedly risen to 267, with now five deaths in total, bringing the national death toll to six.