Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Australians to reconsider any plans to travel overseas, saying “only essential travel should be considered” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Morrison told Australians to reconsider their need to travel regardless of destination, age, or health.

“If your travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time,” he said.

He said the government is effectively putting in place a “level three advice for travel of Australians overseas.”

“This is done to protect their health and to limit their exposure given we have so many countries now that are affected by the coronavirus.

“Only essential travel should be considered if you are going overseas from this point forward.”

Morrison encouraged Australians to look at the Smart Traveller website for any further information.

Acting on advice from Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy at the Council of Australian Government meeting on Friday, Morrison also advised that all mass gatherings of 500 people or more should be cancelled to manage the impact of the coronavirus in the country.

The recommendation will begin from Monday. It does not extend to schools, universities, public transport, or airports.

“These events that we are seeking to advise against and restrict is for non-essential organised gatherings of persons of 500 or more,” he said.

A national cabinet made up of state premiers and territory chief ministers will be formed to provide and manage Australia’s response to COVID-19.

At the time of writing, there are currently 156 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 3 deaths, in Australia.

Image: Getty Images / Tracey Nearmy / Stringer