Anger as China travel ban extended
THE China travel ban is all be certain to be extended beyond two weeks, with the prospect of it lasting a month or more not being ruled out as the new coronavirus continues its spread.
The news comes as China's Australian embassy reveals frustration that they were not given advanced warning that the ban was being put in place, despite being our biggest trading partner.
They also flagged annoyance that five Chinese international students had been "stranded" in Brisbane, after they arrived just after the travel ban came into force.
More than 20,000 people have been infected worldwide, while there have been 426 confirmed deaths including the second fatality outside mainland China.
Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said it was likely the 14-day travel ban, which began February 1, would be extended.
"Whilst it's being constantly reviewed and whilst the initial framing is 14 days … we don't expect that it would suddenly be turned off at that point. We expect that it will continue," he said.
"We are preparing for the fact that it's more likely than not to continue to be extended at this point."
Asked if the extension could see the ban last months, Mr Hunt said "I won't put a timeline on it".
Chinese embassy's deputy head of mission Wang Xining said the embassy was given no advance notice about the impending travel ban.
"We are not happy about this situation because they were not alerted - there's not enough time to be alerted about the restriction," he said.
"There are still a number of people who are still stranded in Brisbane, and a few of them were actually already sent back to China, for which we are not pleased about what happened, because they were not alerted about the restrictions."
It is understood of the five students initially stranded in Brisbane, one has already returned to China, three have been granted a visa and will self-isolate for 14 days, with just one person having their situation finalised by Home Affairs.
Mr Hunt said the Foreign Affairs Minister spoke with her counterpart in Beijing immediately after the National Security Committee made the decision to implement the ban.
"They've been difficult decisions but made on the basis of the medical advice and we'll implement the medical advice," he said.