Managing the health costs of diagnosing and treating coronavirus is estimated to cost $1 billion. This cost is being met 50-50 by the states and territories and the federal Government. This support will cover health services in public hospitals, primary care, aged care and community health expenditure, such as health related activities in childcare centres.

The Treasurer has also flagged the imminent release of a stimulus package to protect the economy including an investment allowance, a small business package and potentially some form of payment through the social welfare system.

The impact of COVID-19

As of 8 March 2020:

  • Over 100,000 reported cases of COVID-19 globally and over 3,700 deaths
  • Mainland China reports 80,655 cases (76% of all cases) and 3,097 deaths
  • Italy has over 5,880 cases reported and over to 366 deaths
  • 90 countries have reported cases. China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland currently have the highest volume of reported cases.
  • The Diamond Princess cruise ship had approximately 700 cases and 8 deaths.

Australia has 74 reported cases of the virus (22 have recovered) and three deaths, 18 of those cases had not travelled overseas. The Prime Minister has announced the activation of the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports both COVID-19 and influenza cause respiratory disease and spread the same way, via small droplets of fluid from the nose and mouth of someone who is sick. WHO notes that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza but causes more severe disease – 3.6% of COVID-19 cases have died, by comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected. Unlike the flu, COVID-19 can be contained.

WHO states there is a severe and increasing disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment – caused by rising demand, hoarding and misuse. Prices of surgical masks have increased six-fold, N95 respirators have more than tripled, and gowns cost twice as much. Market manipulation is widespread. Globally, it is estimated that Pandemic Supply Chain Network supplies need to be increased by 40 per cent.

The Reserve Bank of Australia states that the coronavirus outbreak overseas is having a significant effect on the Australian economy, particularly in the education and travel sectors.

Austrade says that “Media reports of export bans are incorrect – no export bans have been imposed,” as a result of the virus.

Travel restrictions

Travel restrictions or increased advice levels are in place for a number of countries.

Travel restrictions are in place for China, Iran, and South Korea. Australian citizens and permanent residents are advised not to travel to these countries. Foreign nationals cannot enter Australia within 14 days of leaving these countries. Australians returning from these countries must self-isolate for 14 days.

Italy is considered “higher risk.” If you are returning from Italy and you work as a healthcare worker or as a residential aged care worker, you should not attend your regular work for 14 days.

Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Thailand are considered ‘moderate’ risks.