Think-tank calls for Australia to close its borders and cancel mass events

The Grattan Institute called for Australia to close its borders, ban mass events and shut down schools immediately or face an epidemic situation.

The call comes as the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley says Australia must follow the lead of Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, which have introduced radical social distancing measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. There are 129 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, with three people dying.

Speaking to the Australian, Daley said one option available to the government is to introduce significant social distancing and close the airports to foreign travellers.

“The consequence of that would be you would probably see the number of cases in Australia drop to zero,” he said.

He went on to warn that if Australia continued to keep maintain the current measures the nation would follow a similar trajectory as Italy which has been forced to close its borders after a sudden surge in confirmed cases to over 10,000.

Germany, France and Spain are also seeing numbers of infected people spike into the thousands.

Currently Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong only have confirmed cases in the hundreds.

The World Health Organization has blamed “alarming levels of inaction” by governments across the world for fuelling the crisis which has claimed the lives of almost 4500 people and infected more than 112,000.

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” WHO said. “It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.

“We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.”

One ray of light at the end of the tunnel is China which has seen the number of coronavirus infections fall dramatically after first appearing at the end of December.