UPDATE: The Armenian-Australian Community and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By ANC-AU | Friday, 20 March 2020

Dear community,

This is our second notice regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak in Australia, following our original statement on 14th March, 2020. The information below will contain many of the same messages, with important updates since the last announcement was made.

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) is in regular contact with all Armenian-Australian community organisations, schools and clubs (sporting, cultural and other), ensuring they are all properly aware of the Australian Government's and their respective State Governments' advice about how to best deal with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

The latest announcements from the Australian Government – following medical advice from Australia's Chief Medical Officer and meetings the new National Cabinet (made up of state, territory and federal leaders) – includes:

  • All non-citizens and non-residents (exception: immediate family of citizens and residents) will be banned from arriving in Australia from 9:00pm AEDT on Friday 20th March 2020.

  • Australians who return from overseas will still need to isolate themselves for 14 days.

  • A ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people:

    • Religious gatherings must comply with this restriction.

    • Schools, universities, airports, public transport, medical and emergency services facilities, aged care homes, jails, courts, parliaments, supermarkets and many workplaces are exempt from this restriction.

  • Residents of aged care homes will only be able to have one visit per day, of no more than two people.

  • A renewed call for Australians to stay 1.5 metres away from others - “social distancing”.

  • A plea to end panic buying at supermarkets.

A summary of earlier warnings, which remain in force in spite of the new announcements above, include:

  • Categories of people at most risk of serious infection are:

    - people with compromised immune systems (e.g. cancer).
    - elderly people.
    - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they have higher rates of chronic illness.
    - people with diagnosed chronic medical conditions.
    - very young children and babies*.
    - people in group residential settings.
    - people in detention facilities.

    *At this stage, the risk to children and babies, and the role children play in the transmission of COVID-19, is not clear. However, there has so far been a low rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children relative to the broader population.

  • As at 6:30am on 19th March 2020, there have been 565 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia – an increase of 111 in 24 hours. The most highly Armenian-populated states of NSW (265) and VIC (121) have the highest numbers. From the 565, 46 have recovered and six have died.

  • Across the world there have been more than 204,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 8,400 deaths.

What we are recommending to our community:

  • As of yet, we have not been made aware of any Armenian-Australians infected by COVID-19.

  • If you have recently returned from overseas, please follow Federal Government guidelines for a 14-day self-isolation and DO NOT attend any events, activities, school or work.

  • If you are an Australian citizen who is overseas, return home as soon as practically possible.

  • If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, of any kind, please stay at home, and seek prompt medical advice. DO NOT attend any events, activities, school or work.

  • Follow the NSW Government guidelines, which ask individuals and businesses to help prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus ahead of the flu season by following simple hygiene measures like:

    - practicing social distancing - keep distance of 1.5 metres.
    - regular hand washing.
    - sneezing into your elbow.
    - staying at home if you're feeling sick.
    - seeing your local doctor for minor illnesses or injuries.

  • Follow the Facebook page of Armenia Media (www.facebook.com/ArmeniaOnline), where they will post the status of Armenian-Australian events, school closures, sports clubs' notices, etc.

  • If you are an official in an Armenian-Australian organisation or institution, please notify us at admin@anc.org.au of any members that have been impacted or events or activities that will be affected, for prompt reporting to the community through Armenia Media.

  • The Armenian Youth Federation of Australia and the Armenian Relief Society of Australia, in association with the office of the Armenian Resource Centre of Australia, are reaching out to elderly and disabled Armenian-Australians to help with deliveries and other requirements they may have during this difficult time. Those in need are encouraged to phone an AYF-AU representative on the following phone number: 0420 541 843.

We ask our community to treat the threat of this coronavirus seriously, albeit without additional and unnecessary panic. We pray for those who are impacted and will work with authorities to defeat this threat that has significantly impacted so many.

For any further information or assistance, the Government has set up the National Coronavirus HelpLine, which you can reach 24 hours/7 days by calling 1800 020 080.

Warm regards,

Armenian National Committee of Australia

P.S. The first 10 minutes of this SBS Armenian Radio Interview covers the Coronavirus and Armenian-Australians. Click here.