Australia's China travel ban extended for a week over virus fears

A medical worker waves near a propaganda poster as patients arrive at a temporary hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province Feb. 12 2020

A medical worker waves near a propaganda poster as patients arrive at a temporary hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province Feb. 12 2020

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

An exception for the travel ban includes Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family members-spouses, legal guardians and dependents only.

"We are very mindful of the disruption and economic impacts of these arrangements, but I note Australia is one of 58 countries that has introduced some form of travel restrictions", Mr Morrison said.

"I just want to assure all Australians, that we are doing everything we can to keep Australians safe at this time, and to ensure that we are mitigating everything that is possible to address any of the threats", Mr Morrison said.

"This afternoon we have agreed to accept the recommendations to maintain the ban on entry restrictions on foreign nationals from mainland China for a further week".

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the key concern was the spread of the virus, officially known as COVID-19, across China.

The city of Beijing has imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on people returning to the city from holidays and threatened to punish those who failed to comply.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus has reached more than 60,300 and the death toll stands at 1369.

"We have heard alarming reports from the media, social media and firsthand accounts of people with an Asian background being targets of discrimination, racism and racial profiling", President Dr Annabelle Bennet said.

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.

"In other provinces of China there has been slow growth. but still growth".

It brings the total number of cleared cases in the state to six, with the remaining nine all in stable conditions.

More than 200 Australians are passengers on the ship, with 11 of them testing positive for the virus.

The education sector is particularly concerned by the ban, which according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp has meant more than 100,000 Chinese students have been unable to start university classes in Australia this term.

"We are taking a cautious approach. this is why we are on a weekly rotation in the review of this", he said.

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