February 29, 2020 / 6:52 AM / a month ago

Australia to bar foreigners travelling from Iran due to coronavirus risk - minister

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia will deny entry to all foreign nationals travelling from Iran due to the escalating outbreak of coronavirus in the Islamic republic, the government said on Saturday.

Foreign nationals travelling from Iran to Australia would need to spend 14 days in another country from March 1, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“There is likely at this stage a high level of undetected cases and therefore those cases won’t be intercepted or identified on departure from Iran,” Hunt said.

Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from Iran would be required to self-isolate for 14 days and the travel advice for Australians travelling to Iran has been raised to “do not travel”.

Health authorities on Saturday confirmed the number of cases of coronavirus in Australia was 25 after a 63-year-old woman returning from Iran became ill.

Iran has the highest death toll from the flu-like virus outside of China at 34, although World Health Organization (WHO) experts say the outbreak in the country could be worse than is currently known.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has fuelled fears of a pandemic, with multiple countries reporting their first cases this week as the WHO raised its global risk alert to “very high”.

Reporting by Will Ziebell; Editing by Stephen Coates

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