Government advises against events of more than 500 people

Matt Woodley

13/03/2020 3:00:42 PM

The Federal Government has advised that ‘non-essential’ gatherings should be cancelled from Monday in an effort to limit coronavirus spread.

Brendan Murphy and various events
Potentially affected gatherings range from sporting events to Anzac celebrations.

The new restrictions mean royal commissions, football seasons, the Grand Prix and potentially even Anzac Day services will be affected.
It is not known for how long any ban will be in place; however, a number of organisations and events have already been cancelled or postponed in line with recent calls made by a number of doctors, who believe the measures are required to slow community spread of coronavirus.
Countries that have had success in containing the virus, such as Singapore and South Korea, ramped up testing and implemented social distancing measures early, while those that delayed have seen much higher case numbers and deaths.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has said preparations are underway for 20% of the state’s eight million residents to catch coronavirus. Dr Chant expects every person who becomes ill will pass it on to 2.68 others on average – although this could be reduced through self-isolation, social distancing and handwashing.
NSW Health is planning to double both the state’s intensive care unit capacity and availability of ventilators.
Past events
It has emerged that the near-capacity women’s T20 World Cup final and a major music festival were both recently attended by separate carriers of the coronavirus.
A man was one of 86,000 people in attendance at the MCG last week, watching Australia take on India the from level two of the members stand while infected, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) confirmed.
It was also confirmed that a person infected with the virus attended Golden Plains at Meredith, west of Melbourne, on 7–9 March.
But a DHHS investigation has determined the individual was not unwell with the infection during the festival, according to organisers.
‘As a result, no further public health action is required by festival attendees, including workers, volunteers and artists,’ organisers said.
The DHHS has released a list of other ‘public exposure sites’ and recommended anyone who was at any of the sites seek medical advice if they become unwell.
Victoria’s state control centre has begun coordinating government agencies grappling with the outbreak, which has been categorised as a class two emergency. Class one emergencies include natural disasters like bushfires and floods, while class two includes extreme heat and energy issues.
Meanwhile, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, currently in Australia, are being isolated in a Gold Coast hospital after having both contracted the disease. The revelation has seen a number of Channel Nine’s presenters and staff enter self-isolation after the duo appeared on the network, while Ms Wilson also recently performed in front of more than 200 people in Sydney.
The Sydney Opera House is contacting anyone, including patrons and staff, who came into contact with the couple during the performance.
Elsewhere, Katoomba High School in the NSW Blue Mountains has been closed after a person tested positive for coronavirus. NSW Health is working to identify any people with whom the confirmed case has been in contact, while students and staff have been told to self-isolate.
Contrastingly, Melbourne’s La Trobe University will remain open after confirming a student of its suburban Bundoora campus had contracted coronavirus.
Following advice from the DHHS, the university said teaching, research and administrative activities will continue. The student attended classes in the past week and La Trobe said all staff and fellow students who had come into contact had been identified and asked to self-isolate.
‘The limited number of areas the student visited last week have been deep-cleaned,’ the university said.
Upcoming events
This weekend’s Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne has been cancelled after a member of the McLaren racing team tested positive for coronavirus.
Despite the cancellation, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reports he has no further advice on upcoming mass gatherings, but that ‘detailed discussions’ are ongoing with the AFL.
‘They are going to have to confront some of the issues as well – whether they proceed and, if they do proceed, whether they can have fans,’ Premier Andrews said.
‘I know it is deeply frustrating not to be able to tell you whether there will be footy next week. I’m simply not in a position to do that.’
The AFL has already cancelled its plans to host an in-season game in Shanghai, and CEO Gillon McLachlan has signalled potentially holding games with no crowds or postponing them entirely.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has postponed upcoming community forums in northern Tasmania. Likewise, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hearings in Adelaide will be closed to the public and public forums have been postponed.
Pop star Miley Cyrus’ World Tour Bushfire Relief charity concert has been cancelled, as has Tasmania’s Dark Mofo festival, scheduled to take place in June.
Cricket Australia has said three upcoming one day internationals against New Zealand will proceed behind closed doors. However, a decision on the upcoming tour of New Zealand, due to be held at the end of the month, has not been made.
Meanwhile, the women’s team’s upcoming three-match tour of South Africa has been suspended.
The West Australian branch of the RSL has also conceded there is a ‘pretty good possibility’ Anzac Day services will be cancelled.
Overseas, a series of major events, mass gatherings and tourist attractions have been cancelled or closed:

  • The Premier League is set to hold an emergency meeting with all clubs after the manager of Arsenal, Mikel Arteta, was diagnosed with the coronavirus. The league had previously indicated the current round of matches would go ahead as usual, but there are now doubts as to whether the status quo will remain
  • Spain’s La Liga has been suspended, as has the Dutch Eredivisie and America’s Major League Soccer competition. UEFA is due to meet next week to discuss options for the 2020 European Championships and current Champions League and Europa League campaigns
  • In the US, the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) have suspended their seasons, and Major League Baseball (MLB) has suspended spring training with an eye to delaying the start of the season
  • The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has suspended the men’s professional tour for six weeks
  • Broadway theatres in New York will be closed for a month after an usher who had worked at two theatres tested positive for coronavirus
  • All of Rome’s Catholic churches have been ordered closed until at least 3 April
  • Disneyland in California will be closed until at least the end of March
  • The South by Southwest festival will not go ahead, while Coachella has been postponed
  • Denmark has ordered all kindergartens, schools and universities close for a fortnight and public servants in non-essential roles to stay home
  • The International Olympic Committee has sent a letter to athletes indicating it still plans to hold the 2020 Tokyo Games in July
The RACGP is in close contact with the nation’s top medical experts and will make a decision on the postponement or cancellation of upcoming conferences in the coming days. Smaller events and workshops will continue as planned, unless attendee or presenter numbers fall to an unsustainable level. In response to COVID-19, the RACGP will seek to use digital technology to deliver events, seminars and workshops over the coming months.

More information on coronavirus is available on 
the RACGP website.
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Dr Gerard Vincent Mathias Bulger   14/03/2020 6:16:49 AM

Dr Gerard Vincent Mathias Bulger   14/03/2020 6:17:21 AM

UK has better approach