SYDNEY: The Australian government on Saturday (Feb 1) said it would bar non-citizens arriving from mainland China from entering the country under new measures to combat the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said only “Australian citizens, Australian residents, dependents, legal guardians or spouses” would be permitted into the country from mainland China from Saturday.
“The arrangements are being put in place through our border authorities to ensure that that can be actioned,” he added.
Border control authorities would be able to “step up” processes in the next 24 hours to screen those who had departed or transited through China, Morrison said.
“We’re in fact operating with an abundance of caution in these circumstances. So Australians can go about their daily lives with confidence,” Morrison told reporters.
“We’re acting here in advance of many countries in terms of when similar types of arrangements are being put in place.”
The requirement of people arriving in Australia from Hubei province to “self-isolate” for 14 days was expanded from Saturday to include anyone travelling from mainland China.
Australia’s foreign ministry also updated its travel advice for China to “do not travel”.
Qantas Airways, Australia’s flag carrier, said earlier Saturday it would suspend its two direct flights to mainland China – Sydney to Beijing and Shanghai – from Feb 9 because of various virus-linked international restrictions.
Air New Zealand followed suit, announcing a suspension of its Auckland-Shanghai service from Feb 9.