Concerns grow as virus travel ban extends

Chinese students studying in global universities have been stuck since the ban on travel started following the coronavirus epidemic

The decision is a blow to Australian tourism operators who have seen business from Chinese visitors dry up, as well as for tens of thousands of Chinese students hoping to return to Australia for the new academic year.

There are now more than 60,000 confirmed cases of the virus, majority in the province of Hubei where it was first detected, and 1,357 people have died.

But on Thursday evening China's Embassy in Canberra said it "deeply regretted" and was "dissatisfied" over the government's decision to extend the travel bam.

The government's original 14 day ban was put in place to try and stop the spread of coronavirus, now officially known as COVID-19.

More than 240 deaths were reported on Wednesday alone, the highest number of fatalities since the virus was first reported in December.

Mr Morrison said the decision has been made to extend the travel ban for another week.

"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.

"That is of concern because there are still evidence of community transmission in other provinces and that is the reason we would like to maintain the travel ban at the moment".

There are 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, with six of those already recovering. People who have been outside China for more than two weeks and do not show the symptoms of the deadly virus are also allowed to enter Australia.

The ban was initially set for 14 days, with Mr Morrison saying it would now be reviewed on a weekly basis.

"We know the decision to extend these restrictions will be hard for many students during what is already a very stressful time", she said.

With more than 100,000 Chinese students unable to enter Australia to commence their studies, Australia's economy is facing a multi-billion hit from lost tuition fees and spending.

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.

An Australian public health expert will soon head to Japan to look at the handling of the ship's quarantine process and provide advice to the government.



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