Australia’s chief medical officer has advised that any mass gathering of over 500 people should be cancelled in a bid to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The advice comes in the wake of high-profile cancellations of sporting events, festivals and concerts, including the 2020 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

There had been uncertainty over the impending AFL and NRL seasons, with the advice likely to mean that the seasons will either be postponed, or will go ahead without crowds.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been under fire for previously seeming to encourage people to continue to attend mass gatherings in the face of the pandemic. Both he and Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese had said that planned to attend football games over the coming weekend.

Western Australia’s Australian Medical Association’s President Andrew Miller responded to the PM on Twitter saying “You want to go to the footy? I want my colleagues to stay alive.”