The total number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Australia on Monday reached 350 as some states in the country declared a state of emergency and announced penalties for breaching quarantine and self-isolation guidelines issued by them to contain the spread of the deadly disease.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced that anyone returning to Australia from overseas would be required to self-isolate for two weeks and cruise ships from foreign ports would be banned from docking in Australia. New South Wales (NSW) reported 37 cases since Sunday, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 171. In Victoria, 13 new cases brought the state total to 71.
Two elderly women died from the deadly virus, bringing the death toll in the country due to the deadly disease to five. Several schools have been shut down while state governments in Victoria, NSW and Queensland announced penalties for breach of isolation terms.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said under the emergency provisions of the Public Health Act, people who hold functions of more than 500 were liable for a AUD 55,000 (USD 33,911) fine and further fines of AUD 27,500 (USD 16,953) for each additional day their event continues.
A second order under the emergency provisions stipulates any person entering Australia will be required to have a 14-day quarantine period. Of the total 171 cases at this stage, we can say categorically that 67 of those cases were acquired overseas and 44 cases that we know absolutely were transmitted onshore, Hazzard said.
Western Australia (WA) Premier Mark McGowan on Monday declared a state of emergency in the state and said it provided the police force and chief health officer with additional powers to enforce "quarantine and self-isolation measures, as was agreed at the National Cabinet meeting between the Prime Minister, state premiers and chief ministers". The state will enforce the national ban on non-essential mass gatherings of over 500 people and with a penalty of up to AUD 50,000 (USD 30,842).
WA has 18 confirmed coronavirus cases while Tasmania has seven cases of which six were reported stable and one was discharged from hospital. Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday also declared a state of emergency for four weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrews said it was likely that the state of emergency, imposed under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, would be extended. He said the declaration would remain in place "for as long as it needs to be". Andrew Barr, Chief Minister of Australian Capital Territory, declared a public health emergency.The Northern Territory has one confirmed case, a 52-year-old who tested positive on March 4.