Schools across the country to stay open, Scott Morrison says
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a national plan to close all schools due to the coronavirus will not go ahead at this stage.
The decision was handed down a few moments ago.
However, schools and unis may still be closed with the government to reconsider the issue at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
"When you take children out of schools and put them back in the broader community, the ability for them to potentially engage with others increases the risk, and that is the understanding we have," Mr Morrison told a press conference this afternoon.
"The other issue is the disruption impact that they can have and put a great risk, the availability of critical workers such as nurses and doctors and others who are essential in the community because they would have to remain home and look after the children.
"So while it may seem anti-intuitive, there is very good reasons why you would not be moving to broadscale closures of schools.
"That could make the situation worse, not better, and so the states and territories are not moving in that direction, we will consider this again at our meeting after Tuesday night."
Mr Morrison also said all cruise ships from foreign ports will not be allowed in Australia and all travellers arriving here will have to self isolate for 14 days.
He said 'social distancing' measures were required and needed to be introduced progressively.
Non-essential static gatherings (ie meetings where people are seated) of more than 500 people will be banned and there will be restrictions on visitors to remote communities and aged care homes and other services.
"The truth is that while many people will contract this virus, that is clear, just as people get the flu each year, it is a more severe condition than the flu," he said.
"But for the vast majority, as I said last week, majority, around eight or 10 as is our advice, it will be a mild illness and it will pass.
"However, as older Australians and those that are more vulnerable and those that are more vulnerable and those in remote communities and with pre-existing health conditions, it is a far more serious virus and that is our concern.
"Our aim in all of this is to protect the most vulnerable. The most at risk."
Mr Morrison and state leaders received advice from chief medical officers at a national coronavirus cabinet meeting this afternoon.
There are now at least 250 cases of COVID-19 across Australia and three people have died.
Of those, 112 cases are in New South Wales, 49 in Victoria, 46 in Queensland, 19 in South Australia, 17 in Western Australia, six in Tasmania, one in the Northern Territory,