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Australia too bans all visitors from the mainland

2020-02-01 HKT 14:42
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  • Australia too bans all visitors from the mainland
The Australian government on Saturday said it would bar non-citizens arriving from mainland China from entering the country under new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

But the foreign ministry website says alert levels to Hong Kong and Macau remain unchanged and advises people travelling to the two cities to follow advice of local authorities. But the foreign ministry said it will review the decision after two weeks.

Announcing the ban, 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 on Saturday it would suspend its two direct flights to mainland China – Sydney to Beijing and Shanghai – from February 9 because of various virus-linked international restrictions.

Air New Zealand followed suit, announcing a suspension of its Auckland-Shanghai service from February 9. (AFP)

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Last updated: 2020-02-01 HKT 17:20