Australia has activated emergency measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which is threatening to evolve into a pandemic. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia, which currently has 23 cases of the virus, was operating on the basis of a pandemic, according to Reuters. As a result, hospitals are under orders to ensure that they have enough medical supplies, personal protective equipment and staff to address cases of the virus.
“There is every indication that the world will soon enter a pandemic phase of the coronavirus,” Morrison said at a news conference in Canberra. “As a result, we have agreed today and initiated the ... coronavirus emergency response plan.”
Australia isn’t the only country ramping up measures to battle the threat of the virus’s ongoing spread. Taiwan raised its epidemic response level to its highest and US President Donald Trump has installed vice president Mike Pence at the head of America’s response to the crisis. These moves come as the number of infections outside China, the centre of the outbreak, have now surpassed those appearing inside the country. In fact, the epidemic is likely peaking in China, top government health adviser Zhong Nanshan told a news conference, who said that he believed China would be successful in containing the virus by late April.
Denmark, Estonia, and Brazil have now joined the list of countries with residents who have fallen sick with coronavirus. Italy, Spain, and Iran are managing their own severe outbreaks of the virus. Health authorities in the US have also reported the first potential case of community transmission involving an individual who had no relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient.
The coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and has taken the lives of nearly 2,800, the majority of which have been in China.
Global financial impacts have meanwhile taken a major hit, sinking for almost a week straight and losing $3.6 trillion in value. Many airlines are cancelling flights as countries ban visitors from zones of outbreak and people with tickets purchased already delay their travel plans.
The world could still be a long way off from finding a cure for the virus. A vaccine for the coronavirus could take up to 18 months to develop, according to Reuters.