A crowd of people outside Perth airport as it is evacuated. Picture:
A crowd of people outside Perth airport as it is evacuated. Picture:

Mass gatherings banned as COVID-19 spreads

Mass gatherings of more than 500 people - like sporting games and concerts -  will be banned from this Monday to limit the spread of the coronavirus across Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.

The Australian Grand Prix was already been cancelled earlier today amid the growing fears over the coronavirus outbreak and now NRL and AFL games will be affected as part of this ban.

It comes as NSW Health confirmed an additional 14 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in NSW since its last update at 1pm yesterday, bringing the state's total cases to 92.

One of the patients,  a 27-year-old man, had travelled on  Emirates flight EK414 from Dubai to Sydney on March 8.

As the patient was unwell during their journey, NSW Health is alerting passengers  on the flight seated in rows five to nine.

The man also travelled from Switzerland to Dubai on Emirates flight EK090. Affected rows are 39-43. These passengers are urged to monitor for symptoms, and contact their GP or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 should they become unwell.

People wearing masks in Sydney to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Picture: Bianca De Marchi
People wearing masks in Sydney to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Picture: Bianca De Marchi

Currently 14,665 of the state's 16,685 cases tested have been cleared, with close to 2000 still under investigation.

The deepening outbreak is expected to cause more major sporting event cancellations in coming days.

Today,  Cricket Australia announced Australia and New Zealand's mens will now play two matches in an empty Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday and Sunday, with a third match scheduled for next Friday at Hobart's Blundstone Arena. 

Aussie cricketer Kane Richardson will not play today as he is being tested for the coronavirus.

The matches will be shown live on both Fox Sports and Kayo, but only accredited media and broadcast personnel will be admitted into the venues. Fans who had already purchased tickets are eligible for a full refund. 

Questions have also been raised about this year's St Patrick's Day Parade in the Rocks in Sydney this weekend, while the annual Anzac Day services and marches in various states are also under a cloud.

NSW is ramping up efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which authorities warn could infect as many as 1.6 million in the first wave of a statewide outbreak.