Australia bans Chinese tourists as coronavirus death toll rises

Cheryl Sanders
February 5, 2020

A Qantas flight with more than 240 Australians landed at RAAF Base Learmonth near Exmouth shortly after 4 p.m. Monday.

They were briefed in Darwin before flying to Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, about 1400km north-west of the Australian mainland.

The airline said it was acting on the advice of the commonwealth chief medical officer, Dr Brendan Murphy, that a quarantine period for flight crew was unnecessary.

"There won't be a full mingling", he told reporters in Canberra.

"If someone gets sick, their family may have to start over for 14 days, but we don't want to expose the whole group to it".

The Government says Australians from the Hubei province will have to spend 14 days in quarantine on the island, where a mobile hospital has been set up.

Passengers will go through health checks before boarding and will wear surgical masks.

About 71 travelers to Australia were not allowed to board China overnight, and 12 flights were canceled on Sunday.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the government's protective measures were effective.

The virus has infected more than 14,000 people in China and killed more than 360.

As of yesterday, the death toll now stands at 213 inside China, and confirmed infections are 9,096 while possible infections are at 12,167 inside China with recoveries listed as 163.

"That's been because of the edict issued by the border force commissioner that people shouldn't be uploaded onto flights".

Minister of Tourism Simon Birmingham said that thousands of tourists would also be affected by the virus.

"This is our largest tourism market, our largest global education market, our largest trading partner so, of course, it is a significant and severe impact", he said.

The decision was made after Singapore and the United States on Friday announced toughened measures to enter their countries for people who had recently travelled through mainland China, Qantas added.

The US is following a similar policy, but will grant entry to the immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents.

Australians returning to the country from anywhere in mainland China will also be required to isolate themselves for two weeks.

"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", Morrison said.

"If you are now in China, leave as soon as possible by commercial means".

'There's a flight leaving here in five hours and I'm at the airport, ' to which his father responded: 'Great news Josh'.

"The company, in my opinion and also the opinion of most of my cabin crew colleagues, are taking an extremely negligent approach to dealing with the WHO-declared emergency, to the detriment of all of us who fly, as well as to the general public", the cabin crew member said.

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