KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Australia today effectively announced a coronavirus pandemic, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has not declared the outbreak as a pandemic yet.
The Age reported that Australia would initiate a Covid-19 emergency response plan, where “surge capacity” measures will be triggered at medical centres and hospitals nationwide.
Staff could also be requested to return from leave, medicines may be stockpiled, and fever clinics established.
“While the WHO is yet to declare the nature of the coronavirus and its move towards a pandemic phase, we believe the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quoted saying.
“We’re effectively operating now on the basis that there is a pandemic.”
The Age reported that the Australian Border Force will increase screening at airports. Australia’s national security committee reportedly extended a travel ban on non-Australian residents from China for another week. Schools may also see a reduction or cancellation of classes in the country’s pandemic response.
The novel coronavirus has infected over 82,000 people worldwide and killed 2,800. Nearly 33,000 people have recovered.