Coronavirus


20 February 2020

Dear tourism industry operators,

Following previous correspondence last week, I am writing to provide further advice regarding the coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19).

There are signs the spread of the virus in Chinese provinces outside Hubei province is slowing. However, cases and mortality rates continue to rise in Hubei province, which remains locked down by Chinese authorities.

There appears to be a slower growth of cases in other provinces of mainland China. However, we have seen cases occur in Hong Kong and there is some growth in exported cases to a number of countries including Thailand, Singapore and Japan.

We have also seen the infection spread significantly through the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Given this, and the success of the travel restrictions that have helped Australia to contain the virus, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has recommended the current travel restrictions and advisories remain in place, to be reviewed in another week.

The Australian Government has accepted these recommendations.

My colleagues and I recognise the significant impact on the tourism industry of our recent decisions to protect the Australian population from this virus.

We have not made these recommendations lightly and are very focused on ensuring our advice is proportionate.

Reducing entry into Australia by people who have been in mainland China has contributed to the effective management of self-isolation of recent arrivals.
To summarise, the following arrangements remain in place:

Australia will continue to deny entry to anyone who has left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days, with the exception of Australian
citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and
legal guardians.
Australian citizens who have left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving
mainland China.
People who have had close contact with a proven cases of novel coronavirus must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of last contact.

I would note again that the risk of transmission of the virus from people who are well is very low as most people are likely to only be infectious when they develop symptoms. It is as a precautionary measure that we are isolating people who remain
well.

For those hotels which have guests that require isolation, we have factsheets for hotel management and staff and hotel guests with the latest health advice and details on what actions to take. These are available to download and distribute from health.gov.au.

We hope that these fact sheets will reassure staff and guests that the risks imposed by self-isolation of well people are very low.

If you or your staff do become aware of someone who should be in isolation and is not following health advice or have other public health concerns, contact your state or territory public health authority on the below numbers:

  • ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours
  • NSW call 1300 066 055
  • NT call 08 8922 8044
  • Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • SA call 1300 232 272
  • Tas call 1800 671 738
  • Vic call 1300 651 160
  • WA call 08 9328 0553

We will continue to provide regular updates at www.health.gov.au
Yours sincerely

Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer

Dear Senior Industry Leaders,

Global  

Global death toll from coronavirus surpasses SARS deaths

There are now over 44,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across 25 countries. While the death toll now stands at over 1000 people (exceeding the 774 deaths from the SARS epidemic in 2003), almost 5000 people have recovered from the virus. The number of countries reporting confirmed cases of the virus outside of China remains at 25. For more information visit this heat map.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) adopts further screening measures

On 7 February, CLIA ocean-going member cruise lines agreed to adopt further enhanced screening measures intended to address the industry’s exposure to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. As follows:

  • CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days before embarkation.
  • CLIA Members are to deny boarding to all persons who, within 14 days before embarkation, have had close contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having Coronavirus, or who is currently subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to Novel Coronavirus.
  • CLIA Members are to conduct preboarding screening necessary to effect these prevention measures. Enhanced screening and initial medical support are to be provided, as needed, to any persons exhibiting symptoms of suspected coronavirus.

Still no WHO recommendation to restrict international travel

The WHO continues to advise against any restrictions on international travel or trade.

China

More than 44,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in China

The death toll from the virus in mainland China has jumped to over 1000. The infection rate is reported at 2% of cases.

Australia

No change to number of confirmed cases in Australia

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Australia remains at 15: five cases in Queensland, two in South Australia, four in Victoria and four in New South Wales. An additional 11 Australians on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama have tested positive to the virus and two more are under investigation.

Australian coronavirus travel restrictions to be reviewed by 15 February

The Government has committed to a review of the restrictions by 15 February 2020.

Practising good hand and sneeze / cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.

1. wash hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
2. avoid contact with others (including touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact)
3. cough and sneeze into their elbow.

CONTACTS

If you have any queries or comments, please let Bede Fennell or I know. bfennell@tourism.australia.com

Phillipa Harrison
Managing Director | Tourism Australia

T: +61 2 9361 1303 | M: +61 (0) 439 131 185 | E: pharrison@tourism.australia.com

Office: Level 29 420 George Street Sydney 2000

LATEST FACT SHEETS

Staff: Information link

Hotel Guests: Information Link

BUSHFIRES

$10m grants program launched to assist bushfire affected regions

On 11 February the Government announced the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants program (RTBR), a $10 million program drawn from the National Bushfire Recovery Fund.  The program forms part of the Federal Government’s $76 million tourism recovery package to help to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by helping get tourists travelling to bushfire affected regions. It will have two funding streams which will support events, concerts, festivals and visitor attractions in fire affected regions to assist with recovery efforts and encourage international and domestic visitors to come back to the regions. The second stream will be targeted at the worst affected tourism regions. Austrade will administer the program, which has been developed in consultation with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. To ensure communities can get access to funds quickly, the first stage of the grants program will focus on grants of up to $30,000, and events up to April 2020 with a streamlined application and assessment process facilitating decisions. Applications will be accepted from Monday 17 February 2020. For further information visit: https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Tourism/Tourism-and-business/Grants/regional-tourism-bushfire-recovery-grants

Tourism Australia collaborating with states and territories on recovery campaigns

We are currently finalising agreements that will see the Federal Government provide state and territory tourism organisations with a significant funding boost to support their marketing efforts to encourage Australians to holiday at home and support the bushfire and coronavirus recovery. TA is providing some funds as part of a dollar for dollar agreement. A number of campaigns have launched or are planned including:

 

Regards

Pip

Letter from the Department of Health – Chief Medical Officer

Following previous correspondence, I am writing to provide further advice regarding the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19). The situation in mainland China has not changed significantly over the last two weeks. Cases and mortality rates continue to rise in Hubei province, which remains locked down by Chinese authorities.

There continues to be a slower growth of cases in other mainland provinces of China. Cases have risen in Hong Kong and there is growth in exported cases to a number of countries including Thailand, Singapore and Japan.

Given this, and the success of the travel restrictions that have helped Australia to contain the virus, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee met today and recommended the current travel restrictions and advisories remain in place, to be reviewed in seven days.

The Prime Minister announced earlier this evening that the Australian Government has accepted the AHPPC’s recommendations. My colleagues and I recognise the significant impact on the tourism industry of our recent decisions to protect the Australian population from this virus. We have not made these recommendations lightly and are very focused on ensuring our advice is proportionate.

Reducing entry into Australia by people who have been in mainland China has contributed to the effective management of self-isolation of recent arrivals.

To summarise, the following arrangements remain in place:

  • Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days, with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and legal guardians.
  • Australian citizens who have left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving mainland China.
  • People who have had close contact with a proven cases of novel coronavirus must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of last contact.

I would note again that the risk of transmission of the virus from people who are well is very low as most people are likely to only be infectious when they develop symptoms. It is as a precautionary measure that we are isolating people who remain well.

For those hotels which decide to have guests that require isolation, we have updated factsheets for hotel management and staff and hotel guests with the latest health advice and details on what actions to take. These are available to download and distribute from health.gov.au.

We hope that these fact sheets will reassure staff and guests that the risks imposed by self-isolation of well people are very low. If you or your staff do become aware of someone who should be in isolation and is not following health advice or have other public health concerns, contact your state or territory Public Health authority on the below numbers:

  • ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours
  • NSW call 1300 066 055
  • NT call 08 8922 8044
  • Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • SA call 1300 232 272
  • Tas call 1800 671 738
  • Vic call 1800 675 398
  • WA call your local public health unit

We will continue to provide regular updates on this emerging situation at www.health.gov.au

Yours sincerely
Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer
13 February 2020

Still no WHO recommendation to restrict international travel.

The WHO continues to advise against any restrictions on international travel or trade.

Global cases of coronavirus continue to rise – virus reaches Belgium. There are now over 24,500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across countries. Belgium has reported its first confirmed case. The global death toll has risen to close to 500 and the second death outside China recorded in Hong Kong. The death toll in China from the virus logged its highest one day rise on 3 February. Over 900 people are said to have recovered from the virus. For more information regarding confirmed and recovered cases visit this heat map.

China
Confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in China. China is reported to have over 24,000 confirmed and over 23,000 suspected cases of the coronavirus. Of these approximately 2788 have been classified as severe. Macau casinos asked to shut their businesses for 14 days. According to Reuters, officials in Macau have requested that its 41 casinos close their businesses for two weeks to help control the coronavirus outbreak.

Australia
Restrictions on travellers from China is likely to extend beyond 14 days. According to the Australian newspaper, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said the ban on travellers from China would not “suddenly be turned off” after a fortnight. “We expect it will continue. We’re not putting a timeframe on it,” Mr Hunt said.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia reach 13
To date, thirteen cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia: three in Queensland, two in South Australia, four in Victoria and four in New South Wales (as at 5 February). 213 suspected cases are under investigation including 2 in the Northern Territory. Of the thirteen confirmed cases three patients have recovered.

Chinese passport holders who can prove they have been in a third country for at least a month will be admitted to Australia. Australia’s higher education Global Reputation Task Force says the government has agreed that Chinese passport holders who are overseas but can prove they have been in a third country for at least a month will be admitted to Australia. The concession was the result of the first meeting of the Task Force on 3 February.

2 Australian passengers test positive for coronavirus on board cruise ship quarantined in Japan. Nearly 4000 passengers and crew (among them 223 Australian passengers and 3 Australian crew) aboard cruise ship Diamond Princess have been quarantined by Japanese authorities in Yokohama port for 2 weeks. Japanese authorities are undertaking coronavirus screening for all passengers and crew. So far 2 Australian passengers have confirmed cases of coronavirus.

BUSHFIRE

Media attention shift – continuing to reinforce Australia is Open for business. Media attention globally has shifted away from Australia’s bushfires, particularly as media outlets increasingly focus on the impact of the coronavirus. Tourism Australia however continues to work with consumer and trade media in key markets internationally to reinforce the message that Australian tourism is open for business. To support this we continue to update our Bushfire Safety information page online on a daily basis, including our bushfire map highlighting those areas that have been impacted and those that remain unaffected, this in turn helps to generating positive, factual media coverage internationally, such as this story published in today’s Houston Chronicle.

Consumer: australia.com | twitter.com/Australia | facebook.com/SeeAustralia
Corporate: tourism.australia.com | twitter.com/TourismAus

Global

Countries close borders to travellers from China.

Approximately 63 countries have increased border restrictions for travellers from China. Singapore, Italy, the USA, New Zealand, and Australia have introduced the most extensive measures.

Airlines continue to suspend or reduce flights to and from China.

Airlines are continuing to reduce or suspend flights to and from mainland China, mainly as a response to declining demand for travel to that country.

You can track flight changes here.

Cruise ships suspend operations to and from China In accordance with the 24 January directive from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to suspend group tours, cruise ship operators in China have suspended operations.  On 26 January major international cruise liners Royal Caribbean, MSC an Costa Cruises announced voyages would be cancelled through mid-February. By 30 January all international cruise ships to/from Shanghai were suspended by the companies not by Chinese authorities. Industry association Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – which represents most of the major cruise liners – has advised its member cruise liners have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has travelled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days. Additional health screening measures would also be implemented.

A useful summary of cruise ship cancellations and passenger restrictions can be found here

Still no WHO recommendation to restrict international travel

The WHO continues to advise against any restrictions on international travel or trade.

Global cases of coronavirus continue to rise – first death outside China

There are now over 17000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus across at least

23 countries (including Spain, Sweden, Russia and the UK).  Of the confirmed cases approximately 180 are outside China.  The global death toll has risen to over 360 and the first death outside of China recorded in the Philippines. Over 480 people are said to have recovered from the virus, including 5 in Thailand and 1 in Vietnam.

For more information – click the image

Anti-Asian sentiment grows in the wake of the coronavirus Reports of racism against people of Asian appearance have been reported in a number of countries including France, Canada and Australia  (read more). It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that people understand the facts about the transmission of this virus to keep these incidents to a minimum, to ensure a speedy recovery from our largest market.

China

Confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in China. China is reported to have 17335 confirmed and over 12000 suspected cases of the coronavirus. Of these approximately 1300 have been classified as severe.

Bird flu outbreak in Hunan Province. China has reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Hunan Province and has culled 18,000 chickens.

Australia

Australia announces entry restrictions to non-citizens travelling from China

The Australian Government has announced temporary border restrictions on entry to Australia for travellers from, or transiting through, China (with the exception of Australian permanent residents) after 1 February. These measures will be reviewed in 14 days. Australia also raised its overall travel advice for mainland China to ‘Level 4 – Do Not Travel’ and introduced a requirement for all travellers arriving out of mainland China (not just Hubei Province) to self-isolate for a period of fourteen days.

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has issued updated isolation requirements for hotel & tourism operators

The Chief Medical Officer today issued updated medical advice for hotel and tourism operators on the new requirements for self-isolation as follows

*   Any person who left Hubei Province less than 14 days ago (isolate until 14 days after they left Hubei

*   Any identified close contacts of proven cases of novel coronavirus (isolate until 14 days after last contact with the proven case)

*   Any person who left, or transited through, mainland China on or after 1 February 2020 (isolate until 14 days after leaving China).

Updated factsheets are also available for hotel management and staff and hotel guests.

Qantas suspends flights to and from mainland China

On 2 February Qantas announced a suspension of its two direct China flights effective 9 February to 29 March 2020 citing logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate these services in the wake of entry restrictions imposed by countries including Singapore and the United States.

There is no change to Qantas services to Hong Kong.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise in Australia Twelve cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia, two in Queensland, two in South Australia, four in Victoria and four in New South Wales (as at 3 February). In addition, 17 cases that meet the suspected case definition have been reported by several states and territories and are under investigation: Victoria (9 cases), Western Australia (2 cases), and New South Wales (6 cases).

BUSHFIRES

Escalation over the weekend – information & update The impact of the fires continues to be felt and presents Australian tourism with one of its greatest ever challenges. Over the weekend we saw the situation escalate in parts of NSW, ACT and VIC, however conditions have thankfully since eased with all fires burning at advice level or below. We will continue to regularly update the map and the bushfire information page<https://www.australia.com/en/travel-alerts.html> on our website with the latest information on the situation as it unfolds.

TA ACTIVITY

Revising activities in light of evolving situation Tourism Australia is continuing to regularly review its activities in light of the bushfires and coronavirus situation, with a focus on spreading the message to Australians and the world is that Australia is open for business and that the best way people can support tourism recovery is to visit. What we are reviewing at the moment is the timing of this activity.

 

Domestic campaign & approach

Our new domestic campaign, Holiday Here This Year, along with the bespoke business events iteration Event Here This Year, continues to be rolled out across the country with initial industry, media and consumer response having been positive. We are also reviewing this year’s ATE program and will be letting delegates know of some important changes in the coming days, which are aimed at making our flagship trade event more affordable to tourism operators who we know are doing it tough at the moment.

International campaign & approach

We are currently working on the details of our revised international approach, which will include a campaign and a comprehensive international media hosting program, and we will share more information about the international campaign shortly. We are also mobilising our distribution networks to ensure that Australian experiences are still being offered in this key sales period.

Bede Fennell
bfennell@tourism.australia.com
Tourism Australia

Phillipa Harrison
Managing Director | Tourism Australia
T: +61 2 9361 1303 | M: +61 (0) 439 131 185 |
E:pharrison@tourism.australia.com

Media Releases and Information

Hotel and tourism operators,

As you will be aware, we have updated medical advice regarding the novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV).

I am sure that this has caused some concern amongst your industry and I am writing to provide some early advice and guidance.

It is most important to note that the experts still believe this virus is, in the great majority of cases, only passed on to others from people who are unwell with symptoms of infection. There is very limited information to suggest that occasionally people may have spread the virus late in the incubation period in the days before they become unwell or develop an infection without obvious symptoms.

While we are assessing this new data, out of an abundance of caution, we are recommending that well people, who might be incubating the virus, avoid public spaces and isolate themselves in their home or, in the case of tourists, in their hotel rooms. As an added precaution, we are suggesting that this isolation should be for 14 days, although we believe that the average incubation period before symptoms develop is likely to be closer to one week.

This recommendation applies to anyone who has been a close contact with a confirmed case of the virus or has left the Hubei province of China less than 14 days ago. Given that China effectively locked down Hubei province a week ago, most people from there will already have been here a week.

Clearly if you have one of these guests in your property, there will be concerns expressed by the staff. I would like to reassure you and your staff that we still believe that these people are unlikely to be infectious if they are well. If they become unwell, they must seek medical attention, after first phoning ahead to the hospital or doctor to get advice. Staff should avoid contact with any one of these guests who becomes unwell and seek the appropriate medical advice.

Most, if not all, of these guests will be well and, as indicated above, we believe (on current evidence) most unlikely to be infectious. Given our precautionary approach, however, we make the following recommendations for staff in relation to well people during this isolation period:

1. Staff should avoid close contact with these guests but it is safe to be in the same room (at a distance) without protective gear when delivering food, which we recommend that the guests have in their room.
2. Cleaning staff should also avoid close contact. They should wear gloves and use alcohol hand rub before and after wearing gloves. As an added precaution your cleaning staff may wish to wear a surgical mask while cleaning the room.
3. Please reinforce to staff that we believe these people are very unlikely to transmit or develop infection if they have remained well.

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.

Please also encourage all staff to:

1. wash their hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
2. avoid contact with others (including touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact)
3. cough and sneeze into their elbow.

If staff become concerned about guests not following health advice, they should contact their state or territory public health authority on the below numbers:

* ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours

* NSW call 1300 066 055

* NT call 08 8922 8044

* Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)

* SA call 1300 232 272

* Tas call 1800 671 738

* Vic call 1300 651 160

* WA visit https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/ or call your local public health unit https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/publichealthunits

The Australian health system is very well prepared to manage a situation such as this and I appreciate your ongoing support and direct contribution to the collective response.

Further information on this emerging situation including a factsheet for the general public or your customers can be found on www.health.gov.au

Professor Brendan Murphy
Chief Medical Officer
30 January 2020

Staff: Information link

Hotel Guests: Information Link

Following the Chief Medical Officer’s advice yesterday, the Department has now developed two fact sheets with more specific advice regarding the novel coronavirus infection (2019-nCoV).

Please find one factsheet for hotel management and staff and the other for hotel guests at Hotels and Hotel Staff.

Staff:
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-information-for-hotels-and-hotel-staff

Hotel Guests
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-information-for-hotel-guests

They include more information about preventive action staff and guests should take and the restrictions that now apply to anyone who has been in Hubei Province, China in the past 14 days.

We ask that you to share these factsheets accordingly.

The restrictions we have recommended are highly precautionary measure. We still believe that people are unlikely to be infectious if they are well.

We will continue to provide regular updates on this emerging situation at www.health.gov.au

If your staff have further concerns, they should contact their state or territory public health authority on the below numbers:

* ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours

* NSW call 1300 066 055

* NT call 08 8922 8044

* Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)

* SA call 1300 232 272

* Tas call 1800 671 738

* Vic call 1300 651 160

* WA call 08 9328 0553

Thank you so much for your help.
Department of Health