FILE PHOTO: Qantas aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Australia, November 6, 2018…
FILE - Qantas aircraft are seen on the tarmac at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Australia, Nov. 6, 2018.

SYDNEY - Australia has expanded its coronavirus travel ban to include Italy.  Restrictions are already in place for foreign nationals arriving from China, Iran and South Korea.

FILE - China Eastern Airlines flight crew wear protective masks on arrival at Sydney International Airport in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 23, 2020. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett/via Reuters)

Australian officials say travel from four countries into Australia is now restricted because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Foreign nationals who have been in Italy, mainland China, Iran and South Korea will not be allowed into Australia for 14 days from the time they left those countries.  

Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to return home, but will need to isolate themselves for two weeks.

FILE - People wearing face masks walk on Bourke Street after cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Jan. 29, 2020.

With more than 10,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Italy’s outbreak is now the largest outside mainland China.  The entire country has been placed under quarantine restrictions.

“The situation in Italy is now commensurate with the other countries where we have previously had travel bans put in place, and so we will be extending that travel ban to Italy now," said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. "Effectively though I think it is important not to overstate this.  I mean, Italy itself has effectively put itself into lockdown.”

The new directive comes as the government announces a $1.5 billion government health package aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.  Specialist fever clinics will be set up and people worried about the virus will be able to  consult doctors over video calls.

A public health campaign will soon be launched to better inform Australians about the disease.  It will explain how to limit the spread of COVID-19 through hygiene measures, what to do if symptoms develop and where to seek help.   It follows complaints from some doctors about a lack of consistent official information around how to handle people with symptoms of the disease.

There are now more than 130 cases of coronavirus across Australia.  So far, three people have died.  


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