Universities say Chinese students could quit Australia

Cheryl Sanders
February 15, 2020

Initially, travelled passing through China, the centre of the epidemic, were prohibited to enter Australia for 14 days.

There are now more than 60,000 confirmed cases of the virus, a lot of them in the province of Hubei where it was first detected, and 1357 people have died.

The Chinese embassy in Australia has lashed the federal government's "extreme" decision.

He said Beijing and Shanghai have tightly controlled COVID-19 virus and account for around 33 per cent of airline movements.

In China, the total number infected by the virus rose to more than 66,000 on Saturday, with the number of deaths passing 1500.

Mr Morrison said the decision has been made to extend the travel ban for another week.

"There is continuing and concerning growth of cases and mortality in Hubei province and further, though slower, growth in other regions of mainland China", he said in a news release.

Of the 15 coronavirus cases in Australia, six have been cleared and the remaining nine are all stable.

No quarantined Australians at Christmas Island and Darwin have tested positive to the virus, with the first group of evacuees due to return home on Monday.

The WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries should not impose trade or travel restrictions against China because they could cause "fear and stigma". "This is something we will continue to review on a weekly basis, and consider all the medical evidence on a weekly basis", Mr Morrison said.

Thursday's announcement of the extended travel ban comes as most Australian universities prepare to start their academic year in the coming weeks.

"We are looking at all options that are available to us to mitigate the impact where possible".

"We did not take this decision lightly", he told reporters.

"I would like to thank the Chinese Australian community for the way they have been respecting the quarantine arrangements and self isolation", he said.

Work is also underway on extending existing domestic tourism campaigns to help businesses impacted by the downturn in foreign visitors.

Australia defended its decision to bar people from entering the country from mainland China until at least February 22 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, saying the measure was implemented in the country's best interest.

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