Australians on lower incomes will be entitled to the payout which forms part of a £8.75bn ($17.4bn) package to stimulate the faltering economy. Small and medium-sized businesses will also see an injection £12,500 ($25,000) worth £3.3bn ($6.7bn). Around 70,000 businesses employing an estimated 7.8 million people are expected to benefit from the payment.

The fiscal policy to boost the economy is the first to be announced in the country since the 2008 worldwide financial crash.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the financial plan could stimulate the economy by as much as 1.5 percentage points in the second quarter.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia currently stands at 140 – with three deaths.

Double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are among those who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Australian officials said the couple are in a Queensland hospital and their close contacts have self-isolated.

Upon announcing the financial package, Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged people are “anxious” but reassured the public the Government has a “clear plan”.

He said: “I know many Australians are anxious about this and we do still have a long way to go.

“But be assured we are taking action and we do have a clear plan.”

Australia did manage to avert a recession during the financial crash 12 years ago and last dipped into a recession in the early 1990s.

A recession is defined as two successive quarters of negative growth.

However Craig James chief economist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, warned the financial measures announced does not guarantee a recession will be avoided.

He said: “The package won’t super-charge the economy.

“Neither does it guarantee that the economy won’t slip into recession.

“But it is a good first step.”

Stocks on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) tumbled on Wednesday after the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus a pandemic.

The ASX200 market index fell by 115 points or 2.02 percent – wiping £15bn ($30bn) off the share prices.


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World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said the warning was upgraded because the coronavirus has been spreading at “alarming levels”.

The coronavirus has infected more than 121,000 people in 118 countries.

The disease which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan has now killed more than 4,300 people globally.

The WHO chief said: “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

“We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic.”

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