Australians will be advised not to travel to Iran and foreigners coming from Iran will be banned from entering Australia after a Gold Coast woman who departed the country was found to have coronavirus.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the ban would come into force from Sunday, prompted by the high death rate in Iran.
The coronavirus outbreak has killed 34 people in that country.
“They have the highest death rate … outside of Hubei,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.
“There is likely at this stage a high level of undetected cases, and therefore those cases won’t be intercepted or identified on departure from Iran.”
The travel advisory would be raised to “do not travel” following a case of a 63-year-old Gold Coast woman whose coronavirus was undetected on leaving Iran.
The 63-year-old beautician returned to Australia on Monday, but began feeling ill on Thursday while at work.
She saw up to 40 people at the Hair Plus salon at Australia Fair at Southport.
Queensland’s chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young said because most of the contact the woman had with each customer was less than 15 minutes, the risk she had passed on the virus was “incredibly low”.
Health officials were in the process of contacting customers and anyone who visited the salon from 11am on Thursday was urged to contact Gold Coast University Hospital.
The latest restrictions for Iran are now consistent with those in place for China.
It comes just days after the government extended the ban on people coming from China for a further week.
Under the new restrictions, Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family who’ve travelled to Iran will be required to self isolate.
Foreign nationals who are in Iran will be banned from entering Australia for 14 days, from the time they have left or travelled through the country.
Cases of the virus from Iran are already to spreading to a number of countries, including Australia and New Zealand, despite no direct flights and a relatively low number of travellers from Iran to those places.
The government says numbers of reported cases are almost certainly underestimated.
There are now 85,153 coronavirus cases worldwide and 2,922 reported deaths across 58 countries.
New countries with confirmed cases include Iceland, New Zealand and Mexico.
So far 15 people in Australia have been diagnosed and all have been cleared. Another nine, who were caught on the Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers in Japan, are being treated in their home states.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said it’s likely Australia will continue to see more cases.
“It’s very unlikely we can prevent further cases coming into Australia, but the case in Queensland has been well followed up,” he told reporters.
“Our aim at the moment is to detect any cases we see over coming weeks and contain them as much as possible to delay the spread of this virus in Australia.”
Elderly people, particularly those aged over 80, as well as those with health issues like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are most at risk of developing Covid-19.