Canberra: The National Security Committee of Cabinet on Thursday agreed to extend the entry restrictions on foreign nationals who have recently been in mainland China for a further week from 15 February 2020 to protect Australians from the risk of coronavirus.
This decision is underpinned by medical advice and recommendations from the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer and chief medical officers from each state and territory, on the steps necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus, an official press release said.
The Chief Medical Officer confirmed that arrangements to protect Australians from coronavirus are working – there are no confirmed cases among Australian citizens and residents who have returned to Australia since the introduction of the border measures on 1 February 2020.
The restrictions will be reviewed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) in one week.
“We are announcing this decision now to give certainty to travellers, businesses and organisations.
“The continuation of the travel restrictions means that for a further week, foreign nationals – excluding permanent residents – who have been in mainland China will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they left.
“As before, Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians and dependants only).
“We continue to require Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families who have been in mainland China from 1 February 2020, and who return Australia, to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they left mainland China.”
Australia is one of 58 countries that has introduced some form of travel restrictions on passengers who have been in mainland China.
The AHPPC has advised that the situation with Coronavirus in mainland China has not improved in the past two weeks.
There is continuing and concerning growth of cases and mortality in Hubei province and further, though slower, growth in other regions of mainland China.
Thursday’s decision is one of a number of measures the Government has taken to protect public health and keep Australians safe at home and abroad.
With help from Qantas and the cooperation of Chinese authorities, the Government has assisted the departure of 532 Australians from Wuhan.
On the advice of the AHPPC, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will maintain its travel advice for mainland China at “Do not travel” until there is a material change in the global situation.
Border measures to screen passengers on flights and vessels from mainland China and for people who have been in, or transited through, mainland China in the past 14 days will also continue.
The Morrison Government said it can reassure Australians that “our nation is well-equipped and prepared for this global health challenge”.