Australia

Australia's coronavirus death toll rises to five as new border restrictions come into force

Drive-through coronavirus testing service at the Repatriation Hospital in Adelaide, Friday, 13 March, 2020. Source: AAP

All people coming to Australia will have to self-isolate for 14 days from midnight on Sunday, as the number of coronavirus deaths reaches five.

Australia's death toll from the coronavirus has risen to five as health authorities confirm the deaths of two people in NSW.

It comes as all people coming to Australia from midnight on Sunday will have to self-isolate for 14 days, while cruise ships will be banned from arriving at Australian ports for an initial 30 days.

A 90-year-old woman died on Saturday and testing confirmed that she had COVID-19, NSW Health said in a statement on Sunday night.

Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged-care facility.
The Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged-care facility in Sydney.
BaptistCare

She was a resident of the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care home, where two other residents have died after becoming infected with the virus.

A 77-year-old woman has also died from coronavirus, NSW Health said on Sunday.

The woman flew from Brisbane to Sydney on Friday, a Queensland Health spokesman told AAP.

She developed symptoms on the plane, was taken to hospital and died the same day.

NSW Health discovered the woman had contracted coronavirus and informed Queensland Health on Sunday, the spokesman said.

In a statement on Sunday NSW Health said it is "working with state health authorities to trace close contacts of the deceased woman".

"Our condolences are with the family and friends of both women at this time."

Three other Australians, aged 95, 82 and 78, have also died.

The prime minister on Sunday warned Australians to expect further restrictions and intrusions into their daily lives as the government took further steps to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

As well as the arrival restrictions, while schools will remain open, "social distancing" will be increased and aged care facilities are under review.

The states will also be considering their own public health emergency status.

"We're going to have to get used some or more changes over the next six months or so," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney after a phone hook-up with state and territory leaders under a new national cabinet.

"There will be further intrusions, further restrictions on people's movement and their behaviour."

He said there was a wide discussion about school closures, but the advice is that it would have a negative impact on tackling COVID-19.

This is because taking children out of school would expose them to the broader community and at the same time risks disrupting the availability of critical health workers as they look after their children.

The Council of Australian Governments on Friday heeded expert advice that all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people in Australia should be cancelled from Monday.

Sunday's meeting came as the number of virus cases rose above 300 in Australia.

More than 150,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 5600 deaths.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said things are changing on a daily basis.

"What is different about Australia ... we are not yet in winter," Professor Kelly told reporters.

"All of the places we are seeing this virus really escalate quickly now, to other parts of the world, are in the Northern Hemisphere. They are in the latter part of their winter months."

On "social distancing", Mr Morrison explained there will be no more handshakes when he meets his cabinet colleagues and as a precautionary step, the cabinet will be meeting more regularly by video-conferencing.

Australians are being urged to play their part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus as part of a national campaign.

A letter from Mr Morrison, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy ran in newspapers across the country on Sunday, along with the latest information on COVID-19.

It urges people to wash their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and dispose of tissues, and avoid contact with others if they're feeling unwell.

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