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Infected Aussies rushing home will trigger coronavirus ‘peak’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Australia can expect a rise in coronavirus cases as infected travellers return from overseas but this should not cause alarm, a top health security expert has cautioned

Australia can expect a rise in coronavirus cases as infected travellers return from overseas but this should not cause alarm, a top health security expert has cautioned.

The federal government today upgraded its international travel advice to the highest level, with all citizens told not to travel overseas because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only hours earlier DFAT had issued a global alert, urging all Australians travelling overseas to return home as soon as they can.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians returning home from abroad are a potential huge risk to increasing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Adam Kamradt-Scott, from the University of Sydney's Centre for International Security Studies, predicted Aussies rushing home would create a new coronavirus "peak".

"But a rise in cases is not necessarily a cause for concern," Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott told nine.com.au.

The vast majority of Australia's 460 COVID-19 cases have been imported, as a result of someone coming into Australia from abroad.

However, "community transmission" of the coronavirus is a far greater threat than importation of COVID-19, Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott said.

READ MORE: Sixth Australian dies, infections jump in Victoria, NSW

Community transmission is when cases start to appear across an area where the infected people has not travelled internationally or come into contact with someone from abroad.

"This type of spread suggests the virus is circulating more broadly," he said.

Australia so far has not shown widespread community transmission, unlike Italy, Iran and China.

"Our cases have mostly been imported through air travel."

Sydney, Australia

Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott said the phrase "exponential growth" was being bandied around prematurely, causing unnecessary anxiety in Australia.

He said the government's approach of quarantining infected people was working very well so far. But he acknowledged things could change quickly.

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"A number of measures are still in the government's arsenal to use, if warranted."

Some 81,000 people have been tested, 99.5 per cent of whom returned a negative test.

The government today upped the ante on measures to stem coronavirus with limits on social gatherings and visitors to aged care.

A ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people is effective immediately.

Some countries, like the US where meetings of more than 10 people are discouraged, have been more stringent.

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Australia had based its 100-limit on epidemiological modelling, Associate Professor Kamradt-Scott said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison may reduce the limit if the spread of coronavirus worsens.

Nine.com.au has contacted DFAT to establish how many Australians are currently travelling internationally.

There are about one million Australians living and working abroad at any one time, according to government data.

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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-will-returning-infected-travellers-bring-covid-19-to-australia/9f770188-de98-42b3-a419-a83517d4aa99

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