Population Research WA is disappointed the Australian government have given up taking a containment approach to the spread of the coronavirus. One Pathologist writing in the Sydney Morning Herald warns that, “Australia is surrendering a big, natural advantage – its ability to easily control its borders to prevent infection”.[1] The most recent calculations have confirmed that globally the coronavirus has infected about 100,000 people.[2]

Why not tighten the Australian Borders – there has now been two deaths from coronavirus?

Given that Australia has now recorded its second fatality from the deadly coronavirus, it is astounding that the Morrison government has not banned incoming flights from Italy.[3] The death toll in Italy has surpassed 230 people.[4] The number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 1,200 to 5,883 on Saturday.[5] Italy has the most serious outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe. [6] The nation is set to lock down at least 16 million people in the region of Lombardy and in 11 other provinces in the north and east of the country. The leader of Italy’s co-ruling Democratic Party (PD) Nicola Zingaretti has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first senior Italian politician to be infected.[7] This appears an unsound response by the Morrison government, as the economic impacts of closing the border with Italy will be minimal. Italy is not a major trading partner.

Economic Imperative.

The economic imperative of export markets, to the Asia pacific region is guiding the Federal government government’s preference for a mitigation approach to the coronavirus. To a degree this is understandable because Australia’s minerals, (iron ore, coal and gas at 41.8% of total share in 2018-19) remain the top three exports to the developing Asia pacific region.[8] All these exports are transported through international shipping. [9] This means arrivals of ships at Ports, which have minimal passenger contact, indicates a lower risk of spreading the virus in Australia.

Compare the export market shipping controls with the much higher risks involving huge numbers of the Australian population interacting with overseas students and tourism arrivals from the likes of China, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia and Hong Kong. South Korea is now banned along with China. Those countries are all in the Top 10 countries for visitor arrivals and made up a total of 319,700 arrivals in December 2019. China comprised the second highest number of visitor arrivals to Australia in December 2019 at 119,200.[10]  Despite the growing global threat of the coronavirus, free movement is still allowed from China to Australia for permanent residents and citizens. Of great concern is that we are now observing Chinese students trying to bypass Australia’s China travel ban, constituting a significant risk to the Australian community.


[1] Peter Hartcher, ‘Coronavirus Outbreak: Australia May Be Beginning to Love COVID-19’, 2020 <> [accessed 6 March 2020].

[2] Paul Johnson and Dannielle Maguire, ‘Coronavirus Update: Infections Surpass 100,000 Cases as Cruise Ship Records High Percentage of Positives’, 2020 <> [accessed 7 March 2020].

[3] Eryk Bagshaw McCauley Dana, ‘Australia Puts Travel Ban on South Korea, Enhanced Screening on Italy’, 2020 <> [accessed 6 March 2020].

[4] Bristish Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Northern Italy to “Quarantine 16 Million People”’, 8 March 2020, section Europe <> [accessed 8 March 2020].

[5] Bristish Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Northern Italy to “Quarantine 16 Million People”’.

[6] Bristish Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Italy to Close All Schools as Virus Deaths Rise’, 4 March 2020, section Europe <> [accessed 6 March 2020].

[7] Angela Giuffrida, ‘Leader of Italian Democratic Party Has Coronavirus’, 7 March 2020, section World news <> [accessed 8 March 2020].

[8] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ‘Australia’s Trade in Goods and Services 2018-19 | DFAT’, 2020 <> [accessed 7 March 2020].

[9] International Chamber of Shipping, ‘ICS | Shipping and World Trade’, 2020 <> [accessed 7 March 2020].

[10] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘3401.0 – Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Dec 2019’ (c=AU; o=Commonwealth of Australia; ou=Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020) <> [accessed 7 March 2020].

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