DFAT has urged travelling Australians who can return home to "do so as soon as possible."

-With AAP

Overseas Australians urged to come home.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has recommended Australians who are currently travelling overseas to return home as soon as possible via commercial flights.

The federal body states difficulties could arise as countries close their borders in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or novel coronavirus. They also warn consular assistance may be difficult to access due to increased movement restrictions.

The updated Smart Traveller website asks all Australians to reconsider any overseas travel plans.

“Regardless of your destination, age or health, if your overseas travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time,” it reads.

“Consider whether you have access to health care and support systems if you get sick while overseas. If you decide to return to Australia, do so as soon as possible. Commercial options may become less available.

“If you’re overseas and can’t or don’t want to return to Australia, follow the advice of local authorities. Take care to minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus including by self-isolating.”

Gillard in quarantine.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is self-isolating after she hugged the Canadian Prime Minister’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in London a week before she tested positive to COVID-19.

“Former PM Gillard did attend the WE Day event with Sophie Trudeau. Ms Gillard is in London and feeling well, but as a precaution is self-isolating and will continue to do so until the end of the recommended period,” a spokesperson told The Australian.

US stocks suffer worst collapse since ‘Black Monday.’

The Dow Jones recorded its worst one-day point drop in history and its worst performance on a percentage basis since October 19, 1987, also known as ‘Black Monday’.

Stocks fell to session-lows in the final hour of trading as President Donald Trump said the outbreak could last until July or August.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2,997.10 points lower, or 12.9%, at 20,188.52.

Morrison warns of a new ‘normal’ for six-months.

Australians have been warned to brace for a six month battle with coronavirus as the federal government weighs up further measures to ease the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will brace himself in Canberra ahead of what’s expected to be a long-term focus to limit the spread of the virus.

The National Cabinet will discuss measures on Tuesday night such as the aged care sector, indoor meetings and remote communities.

WATCHMamamia’s Claire Murphy breaks down your most asked questions about COVID-19. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

The government has called for families to restrict visits to aged care facilities to prevent older Australians from contracting the virus, while people have also been told to not visit remote regions to protect Indigenous communities.

Morrison and the Treasurer are considering further economic measures after last week announcing a $17.6 billion stimulus package.

The Reserve Bank has pumped extra liquidity into banks to ensure people have access to credit, and financial regulators announced they would meet the big banks and lenders to talk about supporting those who may struggle with mortgage repayments.

Queensland, ACT, South Australia and Victoria have declared a state of emergency while Tasmania will force all people coming to the island to fill in passenger arrival cards.

The National Broadband Network is working to increase capacity during the day, with the increase of people working from home to put pressure on demand.

Coronavirus cases have reached 360 in Australia, with five fatalities.

More countries close their borders and impose more restrictions.

San Francisco has gone into 24 lockdown for three weeks.

Greece is imposing a 14 day quarantine on anyone entering the country and extending shop closures.

Germany has partially closed its borders with five countries, leading to queues at some crossings.

South Korea’s central bank has executed an emergency rate cut of 0.5 percentage points to help ease the economic fallout.

Bangladesh has shut down all economic institutions and private tutorial centres until March 31.

Czech authorities are ordering a lockdown of 21 towns and villages in an area some 150 miles east of the capital to prevent the virus spreading.

Bali has officially entered “alert status” as the nearby Gili Islands are closed to tourists for two weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Tehran reported another 129 fatalities on Monday, the largest one-day rise since the virus reached the Middle East. Businesses in the capital remain open even as other countries in the region moved towards full lockdowns.

Coronavirus precautions in Tehran
A view of empty Valiasr Square in Tehran, Iran. Image: by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Turkey closed bars and restaurants as of Monday night, suspended flights to several countries, and closed schools and universities.

Liberia has announced its first COVID-19 case.

Greenland has announced its first COVID-19 case.

Belgium's political parties have put aside their differences after months of failed negotiations to give the Prime Minister and caretaker government special powers for six months. Schools, restaurants, sports and cultural events have been closed and cancelled.

Hungary is closing its borders to foreigners. Businesses are being told to close at 3pm daily.

Spain has become the fourth-worst infected country in the world.

Malaysia has announced a two-week lockdown.

Switzerland has declared a state of emergency.

Canada has closed its borders to everyone except Americans.

Aussie researchers think they've found a cure.

Scientists at the University of Queensland in Brisbane think drugs used to treat HIV and malaria could tackle the coronavirus.

A team of infectious disease experts say they have seen two existing medications wipe out COVID-19 infections.

Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, and HIV-suppressing combination lopinavir/ritonavir have both reportedly made the virus 'disappear' in infected patients.

The drugs are being tested as researchers and doctors around the world work towards a vaccine, cure or treatment for the deadly virus.


Woolworths 'elderly hour' starts today.

From today, Woolworths is opening exclusively to the elderly and those with a disability for the first hour of trading - 7am - 8am.

Panic buying in recent weeks has seen supermarket shelves stripped of essentials, but as retailers moved to restock shelves these demographics were still missing out.

All other shoppers will be granted access from 8am.

Coles supermarkets are suspending online shopping to all customers except the isolated and vulnerable.

It also confirmed Click and Collect services would cease after an increase of incomplete orders was reported over the past week.

Major changes to the AFL season.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has confirmed the 2020 AFL season has been shortened to 17 games, with every team to play each other once.

McLachlan says the first four weeks of the season will remain as they are fixtured. The remaining 13 rounds will then be "re-worked" to ensure every team plays each other.

AFL players could be see their wages slashed by 15-20 percent because of the shorter season.

Last night a majority vote decided that Round 1 this weekend would go ahead as planned.

New Zealand getting huge stimulus package. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will today announce a multi-billion dollar stimulus package and has already called the announcement the "most significant package that I will announce while I'm prime minister."

Given the NZ government announced a AUD $11.77 million infrastructure package last month, the spending is likely to be historic.

Ardern says she's unlikely to follow Australia's path of handing cheques to households as "singular payments won't be sufficient".

Previous updates:

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Monday March 16.

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Sunday March 15.

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Saturday March 14.

Feature image: Getty.