Australia

Government lifts mainland China travel ban for year 11 and 12 students

A man wearing a protective face mask is seen at Brisbane International Airport. Source: AAP

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the mainland China travel ban will be lifted for year 11 and 12 students, except for those coming from the Hubei province.

Australia will start allowing students in years 11 and 12 to enter from China, except from the Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus.

The federal government says no decision has been made on university students at this stage, but could be in one week's time.

The government said high school students who remain in China due to Australian travel restrictions have been offered a path to resuming their studies, recognising the importance of the final two years of school.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said this follows the continued containment of the COVID-19 virus in Australia - and falling infection rates in China - and medical advice that the Australian Border Force continue to provide case-by-case exemptions to the travel ban from mainland China.

"In particular, that should include consideration of year 11 and 12 secondary school students from mainland China, excluding Hubei," he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.
AAP

There are about 400 year 12 students and 360 year 11 students already enrolled in Australian schools who cannot enter the country due to travel restrictions.

These students can now apply for an exemption to the 1 February, 2020 COVID19 travel restrictions applied to foreign nationals who have been in mainland China.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy is confident that allowing a small number of additional people from mainland China will not impose any material risk to the Australian population.

"We are already letting in Australian citizens and permanent residents, and the good news in the last few weeks from mainland China has been there have been very very few exported cases of this disease," Professor Murphy told reporters.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan thanked his state and territory counterparts for supporting this decision.

"It is incredibly important that we get some normality back to the international student market," the minister told reporters.

"At this stage we are looking at year 11 and 12 students but the medical advice has said in a week we could look at what would happen with tertiary education students".

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