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China travellers to be banned from Australia

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Foreign travellers who have left or passed through mainland China will be denied entry to Australia as officials try to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Foreign travellers who have left or passed through mainland China will be denied entry to Australia as officials try to contain the spread of coronavirus.

They will not be allowed enter Australia for 14 days from the time they depart or transited through the Asian superpower.

The measure comes as South Australia confirms two new coronavirus cases there - a Chinese couple in their 60s - bringing the national total to 12.

Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, dependents, legal guardians and spouses, will be excepted from the strict measures, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.

It also extends to airline staff who have used personal protective gear.

These individuals arriving out of mainland China, not just the Hubei province, are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave the country.

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"In addition to that, there'll be advanced screening and reception arrangements put into place at the major airports to facilitate identifying and providing this information and ensuring the appropriate precautions are being put in place," Mr Morrison said in Sydney on Saturday.

The measure - which is effective from Saturday to be reviewed in a fortnight - comes after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called for those incoming flights to be halted until the virus is contained.

However, Mr Morrison said advice at the moment from medical experts was not to move to "that level of action".

"This provides (Australians in mainland China) with the opportunity to return to Australia," he said.

Mr Morrison also announced new arrangements for Australian airports including the provision of protective masks and thermometers.

Travellers already in the air or arriving in Australia on Sunday will face enhanced screening.

The Border Force Commissioner has been given discretion to be able to deal with cases of foreign travellers as they present at these screenings.

Foreign nationals who arrive in Australia despite the restriction and do not immediately return to where they arrived from will be subject to mandatory quarantine.

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Australians are also being told not to travel to mainland China as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases grows.

"I want to assure Australians that we are doing everything that we can and through these actions to protect Australia for what is an escalating threat and a constantly changing situation," Mr Morrison said.

QANTAS STOPS FLIGHTS

Qantas will halt its two direct services to mainland China, saying entry restrictions imposed the United States, Singapore and other countries will impact crews working across the airline's international network.

Meanwhile, government officials are expecting the Chinese government to approve a plan to evacuate Australians in Wuhan using a Qantas plane "very soon", Defence Minister Marise Payne said.

"I would like to register my thanks to the Chinese authorities for their cooperation on this operation in exceedingly difficult circumstances," she added.

Mr Morrison has stood behind a decision to send Australian citizens to a detention facility on Christmas Island as an appropriate quarantine measure.

"I don't agree it's a controversial decision, I think it's the right decision - we have those facilities in place to support people over that two-week period which I think can give Australians the greatest level of confidence about the quarantine that we've been able to establish," Mr Morrison said.

The prime minister said he had been in regular contact with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, and is seeking to ensure border arrangements between the neighbouring countries are aligned.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA CASES

Two cases of the potentially deadly coronavirus have been confirmed in South Australia, taking the national total to 12.

A couple in their 60s from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, were visiting family in South Australia.

SA Health chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier on Saturday confirmed that the two new cases, a man and a woman, have been admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

"These cases were people that have come from Wuhan, China. They are visiting relatives in South Australia," she said.

"They have followed all of the procedures and information that they have been asked to through communicable disease control branch."

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They developed symptoms and were tested at a public hospital before going into self-isolation.

Their relative has been tested, with results pending.

"We do not think there have been any contacts with anybody else in the state and they have been in self-isolation for the required time," she said.

The couple is understood to have left Wuhan on January 20.

Twenty-five people have been tested in South Australia with 15 of those tests coming back negative earlier on Saturday.

SA Premier Steven Marshall said the state government would work hand-in-glove with the federal government to prevent the spread of the virus.

"We will be doing everything we can to make sure that they (South Australians) remain safe and we take every precaution possible to prevent the spread of this virus," Mr Marshall said.

It will have "serious economic impacts" for South Australians, especially on international students and tourism, he added.

SA Health Minister Stephen Wade said he was confident the state's hospital system could support the couple and South Australians.

Filipinos hoping to buy face masks crowd outside a medical supply shop that was raided by police for allegedly hoarding and overpricing the masks, as public fear over China's Wuhan Coronavirus grows, on January 31, 2020 in Manila, Philippines.

"Our South Australian public health officials are world-class," he said.

DEATHS TOP 250

The number of deaths from a coronavirus epidemic in China has risen by 46 to 259, the country's health authority says, as the United States and other nations also announced new border curbs on foreigners who have been in China.

The central province of Hubei, the centre of the epidemic, is under a virtual quarantine with roads sealed off and public transport shut down.

Elsewhere in China, authorities have placed restrictions on travel and business activity in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

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In its latest figures, China's National Health Commission said there were 2102 new confirmed infections in China on Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 11,791.

Around two dozen other countries have reported confirmed cases of the virus.

People arrive wearing masks to avoid contact with the Coronavirus at Sydney Airport.

Amid growing international concern, Singapore and the United States announced measures on Friday to restrict entry to foreign nationals who have recently been in China.

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Qantas Airways Ltd and Air New Zealand said international travel bans had forced them to suspend their direct flights to China from February 9.

All three major US airlines said on Friday they would cancel flights to mainland China.

Nearly 10,000 flights have been suspended since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, according to travel and data analytics firm Cirium, illustrating concerns about a slowdown in economic activity in China and elsewhere.

Many nations have put on special charter flights to repatriate citizens from China.

More than 300 South Koreans arrived home on Saturday on a second charter flight from China and have been transported to a facility where they will be isolated for two weeks, the health ministry said.

Seven people on the flight exhibited symptoms and were sent to hospital.

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Indonesian officials said around 250 nationals being evacuated from Hubei will be quarantined on a military base on the remote Natuna Islands.

Britain said it was withdrawing some staff from its embassy and consulates in China.

Infections have jumped in two cities flanking Wuhan, raising concerns that new hot spots are emerging despite strict travel restrictions.

A child plays in the middle of Wuhan, the city effectively besieged as a consequence of the coronavirus plague.

In one of them, Huanggang, authorities are requiring households to designate one individual who can leave the home, a local newspaper said.

The city has a population of about 7.5 million.

The northern city of Tianjin, with a population of about 15 million, suspended all schools and businesses until further notice, joining other cities across China in implementing measures aimed at curbing the spread of the pathogen.

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A senior leadership group tasked with handling the crisis promised to take action to prevent a big surge in the number of people travelling after the extended Lunar New Year holiday.

The team led by Premier Li Keqiang said they would coordinate with local governments to stagger the times when people are asked to go back to work.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-infection-melbourne-woman-becomes-fourth-in-victoria-to-develop-illness/4390358e-76f1-4170-81e0-2e4fead1567b

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