Australia minister urges calm as
virus looms over F1, major events
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[February 28, 2020]
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's
health minister on Friday urged the sports-mad country not to fear
being infected by the coronavirus when attending major events such
as Formula One's season-opening Grand Prix in Melbourne next month.
Australia kicked off emergency measures on Thursday to restrain the
spread of the disease which has infected about 80,000 people
worldwide and killed more than 2,700.
The country has reported 23 cases but there has been no community
transmission of the virus.
Although a slew of sports events have been postponed or canceled
across the globe due to safety concerns, Health Minister Greg Hunt
said the virus was still contained in Australia.
"The message from today, from the states and territories, was go
about your ordinary business," Hunt told reporters in Melbourne
following a briefing with state health officials.
"Go about your ordinary business. Go down to the Chinese restaurant,
go out to the football or the Grand Prix or the netball.
"The messaging of this week is because of the global spread, there
is a high likelihood that it will come to Australia at some point.
"Our message is that we are prepared for that moment because we are
not immune but it is very important to go about your daily
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday there was
every sign a pandemic was in store, becoming one of the world's
first leaders to acknowledge the threat of the virus spreading
beyond global containment efforts.
[to top of second column]
Australian Minister of Environment Greg Hunt signs the Paris
Agreement on climate change held at the United Nations
Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2016.
Australia is currently hosting the Women's T20 World Cup cricket
tournament across the country, with the March 8 final at the
Melbourne Cricket Ground having already sold more than 50,000
The F1 Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne is scheduled a week
later on March 15. Organisers estimated more than 300,000 people
attended race week last year.
The Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for Shanghai on April 19 was called
off this month and there has been media speculation about the
chances of Vietnam's race going ahead earlier in April as the virus
Australian Grand Prix organisers are planning for the race to
proceed but said they would have no choice but to fall into line
with health authorities if they advised otherwise.
"We have to be open-minded," Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss
Andrew Westacott said Wednesday.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
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