Australia advises against mass gatherings of over 500 people to contain coronavirus

SYDNEY, March 13 (Reuters) – Australia on Friday urged locals not gather in groups of more than 500 people as Canberra accelerates its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Australia has recorded 156 infections and three deaths from the flu-like disease but authorities expect this to increase rapidly in the coming weeks with the arrival of the southern hemisphere winter.

Desperate to contain the spread, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that his government will from Monday advise against non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people, though this does not include schools, airports or public transport.

“We will be advising against organised non-essential gatherings of persons of 500 people or greater from Monday,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Morrison also said Australians should also reconsider their need for any overseas travel.

The virus has so far infected almost 135,000 and killed more than 4,900 worldwide. (Reporting by Colin Packham Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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