Australia

'You are magnificent': PM praises Chinese-Australians for coronavirus response

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the Chinese community in Australia has responded magnificently. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country's containment measures are "working well" as he thanked members of the Chinese community for their co-operation with the coronavirus self-isolation measures.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thanked Australia's Chinese community for their help in limiting the spread of coronavirus by cooperating with the advice on quarantine and self-isolation.

"Can I say thank you to the Australian Chinese community. You are magnificent," he told reporters in Canberra.  

"You are observing and taking so seriously your responsibilities together with all Australians to ensure that we have so far quite successfully been able to contain the impact of the coronavirus within Australia."

The Morrison government announced on Saturday travel bans to stop the spread of the coronavirus, while many people who returned from China before that have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Australia now has 13 confirmed case of the deadly coronavirus after an eight-year-old boy was diagnosed and isolated in a Queensland hospital.

The child, who is from Wuhan which is the epicentre of the virus outbreak, was a member of a tour group travelling in Australia in late January.

Increase in racist attacks

Members of the Asian community in Australia have reported an increase in racially motivated and targeted attacks online and on public transport, at school and in the workplace. 

"It’s devastating that some opportunists are jumping on this to spread racist and xenophobic rhetoric," Pan, a 27-year-old Australian citizen with Chinese-Malaysian heritage, told SBS News last week. 

Mr Morrison said such racist attacks were "reprehensible".

"The way you have supported each other [is to be praised]. The way you have acted in such a responsible fashion on occasions with great provocation which I have found reprehensible."

The Secretary-General of Queensland Chinese United Council, Michael Ma, pleaded with members of the community to not respond to fears of contagion by targeting others for public ridicule.

A sign in Chatswood, Sydney reminds people of cough etiquette.
A sign in Chatswood, Sydney reminds people of cough etiquette.
SBS

"It is a virus, we call a coronavirus, not 'China virus'. What we're going to do is isolate the virus, not the Chinese. So we're strongly condemning that and any form of discrimination," he said on Saturday.

Heightened anti-China sentiment in response to the virus outbreak has also been reported in other countries, including France, Japan and Singapore. 

New Zealand's Human Right Commission urged people to avoid typecasting.

"Coronavirus is not an excuse to be racist and xenophobic," the commission posted on its Facebook page.

"Resist judging and typecasting people based on their ethnicity, nationality or physical appearance. Keep calm, listen to the facts, and adhere to the precautionary measures recommended by the Ministry of Health." Second flight organised for Australians in Wuhan 

Mr Morrison confirmed that a second flight for Australians stranded in China's Wuhan province is being organised, adding that would be the end of government assistance. 

He said Australians who do not board the second flight can use commercial flights coming out of mainland China. 

"What I want to tell people is that they can't count on a further flight beyond that, or one into mainland China at some point.

"So there are flights coming out of mainland China and people should avail themselves of that if they wish to."

Of the 234 Australians who were on the first evacuation flight from Wuhan, none have presented with the coronavirus so far. 

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Another group of 35 Australians, not 50 as originally flagged, were evacuated on board an Air New Zealand flight, which was also carrying nationals from New Zealand and Pacific Island nations.

The plane left Wuhan on Wednesday morning headed for Auckland. The Australians on board will then be taken to Christmas Island.

The Australian evacuees from Wuhan are being quarantined on Christmas Island, separated in small family groups for the 14-day virus incubation period.

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Mr Morrison said Australians should take heart from the fact that some diagnosed patients have been cleared, showing containment measures are having an impact.

"We have 13 confirmed cases three of which have now left hospital and have gone about their lives. So we have actually seen a net reduction in recent times of those cases.

"So I say to the Chinese community of Australia: thank you, thank you for the way you have engaged."

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