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Austrade regional market update on the impact of COVID-19 (as of 16 March 2020)

17 Mar 2020

The coronavirus is having a significant impact on the Australian economy, coming on the back of devastating bushfires and continued drought. To support the international education sector at this time, Austrade will provide weekly regional updates on the progression and impact of COVID-19, as the situation continues to evolve around the world. These reports are compiled using the latest on-the-ground information and advice. The following updates include markets and regions for:

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • North Pacific
  • South Asia
  • North Asia

North America

  • All major education events and conferences have now been cancelled or postponed, including ASU GSV — a global edtech event in San Diego, now postponed to 29 September to 1 October
  • All universities and schools have provided guidance on social distancing
  • Majority of US universities and schools are shifting to remote learning methods (including examinations) or temporary closures.

Latin America

  • In most locations, classes in schools and universities across Latin America have been suspended as of this week, to be reassessed at the end of March or after Easter
  • All education student recruitment events have now been cancelled, including those organised by FPP, FIESA in Argentina and FAUBAI (the major Higher Education conference in Brazil)
  • Face-to-face meetings and international visitors are also being restricted
  • Education agents have noted a sharp decrease in student enquiries and interest over the past month and their businesses are being heavily impacted during this period
  • Prospective students are no longer considering study overseas at this stage, and the perception is that many Australian institutions have temporary restrictions on face-to-face classes
  • Coupled with the fear that countries will close borders in efforts to slow down the rate of transmission, people are not considering travel at the moment and this will likely result in an impact on flights between Australia and the region.

North Pacific

Papua New Guinea

  • No known cases of COVID-19 reported in PNG
  • PNG/Solomon Islands education mission is still planned for July 2020
  • Situations will be monitored weekly based on travel restrictions, company travel policies and advice from the Australian government
  • Restrictions will affect customer market visits and supply chains for construction projects, as well as companies with expats working in PNG.

South Asia

Increase of COVID-19 cases across South Asia have been slightly behind the bell curve of other impacted markets to date, with 107 cases confirmed as at 15 March (World Health Organisation).

India

  • The Government has proactively introduced new measures in response to the pandemic, including a suite of relatively forward leaning border restrictions with mandatory 14-day quarantine for a list of East Asia and European countries
  • India’s border has been closed to all non-essential travel, particularly focussing restrictions on tourist, business and out of country OCI pass holders
  • In many centres closure of school operations for two weeks and limitations on group gatherings, including venue closures for theatres, shopping malls, gyms and swimming pools have come into effect over the weekend
  • The education sector is moving to virtual and digital delivery with international schools, agents and institutions regearing to deliver remotely
  • If the situation persists there will be challenges in international education recruitment events, summer schools, study abroad and semester abroad programs, with the primary concern being the sitting of examinations at school limiting the pipeline for results and institutions applications.

Sri Lanka

  • The government has temporarily halted -arrival visas for tourists to control coronavirus spread
  • Quarantine measures are in force to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, which apply to Sri Lankans coming from Italy, South Korea and Iran as well as foreigners
  • Schools are closed temporarily in Sri Lanka.

Bangladesh

  • Flights to Kuwait, Qatar and India have been suspended amid a coronavirus outbreak and India’s recent ban on tourist visas
  • There has been no impact to education institutions and they will remain open as the current situation in the country does not warrant their closure, according to government officials.

Pacific

Fiji

  • There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji. The government is assessing people on arrival to Fiji demonstrating limited travel restrictions
  • Fiji Airways has not changed any flights/imposed restrictions for Australia
  • The Samoan leg of the recent Austrade
  • Study Australia Tertiary Education Roadshow  was cancelled due to travel restrictions (flight cancellations and medical certificate requirement three days prior to boarding)
  • The Fiji business community were appreciative that we continued the roadshow (there was no negative sentiment)
  • Many universities cancelled their trip one to two days prior to travel
  • One university left early due to internal travel restrictions
  • The interest and support in Fiji from prospective students was still strong – many were wondering why the universities did not attend the event (somewhat sheltered from the global impact of the virus).

North Asia

China

  • The COVID-19 outbreak peak has officially been announced, with a consistent decline in the number of new cases reported
  • The People’s Medical Publishing House has released a series of guidelines on the novel coronavirus disease prevention and control in schools at all levels, available on Ministry of Education’s official website
  • Senior high school and secondary vocational schools resumed classes last week in Qinghai Province
  • Other provinces where the outbreak is under control are expected to re-open schools soon
  • In big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where there are more imported cases of infection, students are still required to take online classes
  • Austrade China is working closely with education agents and allies and will support 12 virtual seminars in the coming month.

Korea

  • As of Sunday 15 March, Korea has over 8,100 confirmed cases, but has seen a slowdown in new cases over the past week to a two digit increase in patients on Sunday, the lowest since 21 February, 2020.
  • However business continuity risk levels remain high, and some office complexes in Seoul have closed when cases have been confirmed. Offsite meetings are often not easy to organise, remote meetings also continue
  • The Ministry of Education is still considering a two-week extension on starting semester one for K-12 schools, opening 6 April, and may be announced by 18 March
  • Study Australia Korea 2020 (scheduled for May) has been cancelled, and notification will be sent to registered institutions, state governments and agents this week to confirm
  • While large events and exhibitions scheduled for March have been cancelled, some organisers are considering proceeding with events in April-May, expecting a stabilisation of the COVID-19 situation in Korea.
  • The US Embassy roadshow to Seoul, Busan, Jeju and Incheon that was scheduled for late April-early May, has been postponed to August 2020.

If you have questions, please contact the offices in market who can direct and assist in your enquiry. You can view Austrade office locations on our website.