Australian government advised to ban mass gatherings to contain coronavirus

Fans queue up outside the gates prior to the first practice session for the Formula One Australian Grand Prix before it was cancelled, in Melbourne on March 13, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The Australian government has been advised by the country's chief medical officer to ban mass gatherings of more than 500 people to contain the spread of the coronavirus, local media reported on Friday (March 13).

Australia has recorded 126 infections and three deaths from the flu-like disease, but the authorities expect this to increase rapidly in the coming weeks with the arrival of the southern hemisphere winter.

Desperate to contain the spread, Dr Brendan Murphy, Australia's Chief Medical Officer, told Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state premiers to ban gatherings of more than 500 people, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The virus has so far infected almost 135,000 and killed more than 4,900 worldwide.

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