In a move that should have come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Australia is keeping its boarders closed to Chinese tourists, and anyone who has been to China over the past 4 weeks to minimize the impact on the coronavirus has had on the continent. Normally their remoteness and isolation from the rest of the world hurts them, but in cases like this when a global pandemic is spreading and nobody really knows the full extent of the possible impact yet, they’re fairly well protected. To date only 15 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Australia.
The Australian government has extended its ban on international arrivals who have traveled through China for a fourth week due to the novel coronavirus crisis, despite the increasing pressure on the economy and the start of the university year.
The ban, which has been in force since 1 February and was initially scheduled for 14 days, will continue into a fourth week.
Announcing the extension on Thursday, the government said in a statement that the number of coronavirus cases in Hubei province continued to grow, but was slowing elsewhere.
“We will need to watch closely whether this positive trend continues as people return to work after the holidays,” the statement said.
The government’s approach to preventing the spread of the disease in Australia continued to be successful, it said, with the number of cases remaining at 15.
The Australian economy faces an estimated $8bn hit due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to cost the global economy US$1.1tn.
The ban has hit the higher education sector particularly hard, stranding an estimated 65,800 international visa-holding students in China, with universities reportedly preparing for a $1.2bn loss of income while scrambling to accommodate remote learning and to manage the effect on staff workloads, particularly casual staff.
The National Tertiary Education Union has called on the federal government to create a support package for the sector.
The union’s president, Alison Barnes, said the consequences of the ban were becoming increasingly serious.