The United States, France, Spain, India and Israel are among the dozens of countries with rapidly escalating border restrictions, stranding passengers and airlines as countries move into lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Globally, the number of infections is expected to breach 200,000 by Wednesday. The number of confirmed cases outside China has now eclipsed the country in which it was first detected in December. Australia is preparing to have 1000 confirmed cases by Sunday as the government considers putting limits on indoor gatherings and enforcing stricter social-distancing measures.
“As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult,” the department said.
“If you decide to return to Australia, do so as soon as possible. Commercial options may become less available.”
Qantas on Tuesday said it would cut its international flights by up to 90 per cent until June, following major reductions by American Airlines, Delta and United, and other carriers across Europe and Britain.
The department told Australians intending to stay overseas to follow the advice of local authorities.
“Take care to minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus including by self-isolating,” the department said.
“If you choose to stay, note our ability to provide consular assistance in some places may be limited due to restrictions on movement and other services.”
On Monday, the department upgraded travel advice to an unprecedented level three for the entire world. The advice urged all Australians, regardless of their destination, to “reconsider your need for travel”.
“Regardless of your destination, age or health, if your overseas travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time,” it said.
Eryk Bagshaw is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra