Skift Take

Blanket Chinese travel bans that countries like Australia have instated due to coronavirus have economic and human rights implications as well as health-related ones. You can expect China to keep pointing to World Health Organization guidance on the matter to minimize the economic fallout.

Australia should lift its ban on the arrival of foreign nationals from mainland China, China’s ambassador to Australia said on Monday.

Australia has since Feb. 1 prevented anyone but citizens and permanent residents from entering the country directly from mainland China, citing a need to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The number of cases in Australia have held steady at 15, China’s Ambassador to Australia said, and the restrictions should be eased when Canberra next reviews the policy before Feb 22.

“We have expressed our strong wish and hope that the Australian government in their review will take a balanced approach and remove those harsh restrictions. At the very least they should relax them,” Cheng Jingye told Sky News Australia. “It is inconsistent with the recommendations of the (World Health Organisation).

The number of reported new infections in China’s Hubei province rose on Monday after two days of declines, as authorities imposed tough new restrictions on movement to prevent the spread of the disease, dubbed SARS-CoV-2, which has killed more than 1,700 people.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Canberra would be guided by advice from medical experts, despite growing pressure on the Australian economy.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, sending more than 1 million tourists and students there each year.

Australia’s top central banker this month said the epidemic could shave 0.2 percentage points off Australia’s economic growth in the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, Morrison said more than 200 Australians quarantined at an immigration detention center in the Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island for two weeks would depart on Monday.

“Having to go into a quarantine period for 14 days is an inconvenience. But they understood why. They took that in good faith and I’m sure they’re looking forward to coming home,” Morrison told reporters in Melbourne.

Morrison said the detention center would not be ready to house anyone repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise liner, docked in Yokohama, Japan.

He said he would meet with his national security committee to discuss an alternative plan for nearly 200 Australians on the cruise ship.

This article was written by Colin Packham from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].


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Tags: china, coronavirus, diamond princess, tourism

Photo credit: Chinese language signage at Melbourne airport. eGuide Travel / Flickr

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