Overseas Travel and Advisory Brief: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Correct at: 07 March 2020
What is Corona Virus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has been named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation and is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. Common symptoms of the disease include a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can cause pneumonia, and even death. There is much more to learn about how COVID-19 is spread, its severity, and other features associated with the virus; epidemiological and clinical investigations are ongoing. The infection period for the virus will vary from person to person. Mild symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual may resolve over just a few days.
Australian Government Travel Advisories
In most countries, the Australian Government continues to advise travellers to exercise normal safety precautions. For the coronavirus, this means taking sensible measures to minimise your risk of exposure such as practising good hand hygiene. It does not mean reconsidering or cancelling your travel plans to these countries.
In addition, the government has raised their advice level for six countries:
China and Iran – do not travel;
South Korea - reconsider your need to travel; and
Japan, Italy and Mongolia - exercise a high degree of caution.
Many countries in the Pacific are introducing restrictions on travel from countries or areas affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Many restrict travel for anyone who has been in countries such as China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy in the last 14 days. But others include a much wider list of countries. Some include Australia. Before travel, check with their embassy or consulate as requirements are changing quickly and often.
Further information relating to travel advisories (including health and consular assistance) for specific overseas locations can be found at the Smart Traveller website:
It is strongly recommended that you consult this advice prior to travel or planning travel. These advisories are updated regularly and may change at short notice.
Before you Travel
If you are considering travelling to any destination with cases of COVID-19, the Australian Government strongly recommends the following:
Talk to your doctor before travelling with young children, babies or an elderly person; if you are pregnant; if you have a weak immune system or have a chronic medical condition.
Read government advice about infectious diseases and medical assistance overseas before you go.
Check with your travel agent, airline, cruise operator, accommodation provider and travel insurance provider to consider your options regarding any potential changes in services.
Understand the risks you’re taking and that efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 may cause further travel disruptions and restrictions.
Subscribe to your destination and Smart Traveller news updates and follow them on Facebook and Twitter to receive latest updates on the situation as they occur.
While you are Away
To minimise your risk of exposure to this and other infections, the Australian Government strongly recommends the following:
Travellers to Asia should not visit live bird and animal markets, including ‘wet’ markets.
Avoid all high-risk areas such as farms, and areas where animals are slaughtered, including fish and seafood; contact with animals (alive or dead), including pigs, chickens, ducks and wild birds; and surfaces with animal droppings or secretions on them.
If you come into contact with any animals or animal products, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have thoroughly sanitised your hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet.
Avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact), especially if they are sick.
Monitor your health closely. If you develop symptoms (fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath), you should arrange to see a doctor for an urgent assessment.
Follow the advice of local authorities.
Contact your airline or travel company for information about changes to flight services.
You do not need to wear a face mask if you are well. Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who are infected with coronavirus from spreading it to others. However, if you are travelling in an affected country, you must follow the advice of local authorities.
You should also consider that you may be quarantined within the country you are visiting or on return to Australia for a period of 14 days.
Returning from a destination with reported cases
Australia has in place border, isolation, surveillance and case tracing mechanisms to protect the Australian community and has well established mechanisms to respond to ill travellers at points of entry.
Airlines must report passengers on board showing signs of an infectious disease, including fever, sweats or chills. Ill travellers are met on arrival by biosecurity officers who make an assessment and take necessary actions, such as isolation and referral to hospital, where required.
Further information can be found at:
Smart Traveller website
Information detailed within this brief was gained through sourcing state and federal government material. Whilst every effort is made to ensure up-to-date product, advice and information contained in this advisory is subject to change as situations develop. This information does not constitute or replace medical and health advice from health professionals and is correct as at 07 March 2020.
Whilst reliable sources are utilised for the aggregation of information, inclusion of such material is not confirmation of its credibility nor does it imply the official view or endorsement of Montane Protective Security.