'Stop hoarding... stop it.': Australia PM declares national emergency

Australia has declared what leader Scott Morrison calls a 'human biosecurity emergency' - raising warnings to an unprecedented level over the coronavirus.

Officials have banned indoor gatherings of 100 people ore more, issued a warning for residents to stop traveling to any other country -- .but Australia is keeping schools open.

By formally declaring an emergency, the government can now close off cities or whole regions, set curfews and even order people to quarantine if necessary.

And Prime Minister Morrison warned this could last at least six months.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON SAYING:

"We are upgrading the travel ban on Australians to level 4 for the entire world. That is the first time that has ever happened in Australia's history. The travel advice to every Australian is 'Do not travel abroad.' Do not go overseas."

Australia has seen its fair share of panic buying, with supermarket shelves stripped of essentials like toilet paper and pasta.

Morrison scolded those stockpiling everyday items.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON SAYING:

"Stop hoarding. I can't be more blunt about it. Stop it. It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behavior in response to this crisis."

Morrison also cited expert health guidance as the rationale for keeping schools open, pointing to similar measures in Singapore, which he called 'effective' at containing the outbreak.