Wuhan virus: Australia to refuse entry to non-citizens arriving from China

Passengers at Brisbane International Airport on Jan 31, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY (AFP) - The Australian government on Saturday (Feb 1) said it would bar non-citizens arriving from China from entering the country, under new measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said only "Australian citizens, Australian residents, dependants, legal guardians or spouses" would be permitted into the country from China from Saturday.

"The arrangements are being put in place through our border authorities to ensure that that can be actioned," he added. "Those that do return will be required to go into self isolation for 14 days."

"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 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.

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