'Deep regret': China blasts Australia's 'overreaction' to coronavirus outbreak

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

The Chinese embassy in Australia has lambasted the government’s decision to ban travel into the country from China amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Morrison government's decision to extend the travel ban by an extra week is an “overreaction”, according to the embassy.

"We express our deep regret and dissatisfaction over the Australian government's announcement," a spokesman said in a statement.

People wearing masks with their suitcases.
Chinese students are struggling to return to Australia. Source: Getty Images

"Only Australia and a small number of countries have taken such extreme measures which are an overreaction indeed."

From Friday, foreign nationals who have been in mainland China will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they left.

However the embassy says the ban should be scrapped as the World Health Organisation hasn’t yet recommended travel restrictions from China.

The US and New Zealand have made similar bans to Australia to help contain the virus.

Australian evacuees from the Chinese city Wuhan arrive at the Inpex Plant Manigurr-ma Village in Darwin.
Australian evacuees from Wuhan arrive in Darwin last weekend. Source: AAP

Labor leader Anthony Albanese stood by the federal government over the decision, saying the safety of Australians was paramount.

“We need to defend our national interest in the safety of Australian citizens,” he said on Friday.

Some Chinese nationals living in Australia, particularly students, are resorting to travelling to other countries for a quarantine period of two weeks before heading on to Australia, circumnavigating the ban.

Experts believe the education system could take an $8 billion hit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The University of Canberra has asked its Chinese students to defer their studies due to "complications from the Chinese firewall" in accessing study materials online.

Two medical staff work in the negative-pressure isolation ward in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan.
Medical staff work in Wuhan's Jinyitan Hospital. Source: Getty Images

Businesses have also been hit hard with the lack of Chinese tourists flooding into Australia.

The Australian banking industry is offering deferred loan payments, waiving fees and restructuring loans to small business impacted by the effects of the virus – coming on top of a summer of drought, bushfires and floods.

"Banks have hardship teams in place to walk businesses through the assistance on offer if they have been impacted by events outside of their control," Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh said in a statement.

A tourist from Hong Kong is seen wearing a mask at Mrs Macquarie's Chair with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.
The Chinese embassy isn't pleased with Australia's decision to cut back travel to China. A tourist is seen wearing a mask at Sydney Harbour. Source: Getty Images

There are now more than 60,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of them in the province of Hubei where it was first detected, and 1357 people have died.

Of the 15 cases in Australia, six have been cleared and the remaining nine are all stable.

No quarantined Australians at Christmas Island and Darwin have tested positive for the virus, with the first group of evacuees due to return home on Monday.

With AAP

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