Australia expected to extend China travel ban for another week

Australia expected to extend China travel ban for another week

Qantas flight QF6302 will pick up the passengers at 1am in Tokyo. Accompanied by doctors, they will be flown to Howard Springs mining camp outside Darwin.

The evacuation will leave the 100 Australian residents in Hubei, the centre of the outbreak, as the only remaining Australians in a high-risk coronavirus zone. The outbreak has killed 2011 and infected 75,199 people world-wide since it began in December. More than 14,000 people have also recovered from the flu-like disease.

Global ratings agency S&P warned on Wednesday Australia was among the most exposed to the flow-on effects of the virus – as 100,000 Chinese international students remain locked out of the country and education, tourism and retail all take a hit – knocking 0.5 percentage points off of economic growth in 2020.

“Hong Kong and Singapore will be hardest hit,” said S&P Asia Pacific chief economist Shaun Roache “Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam should suffer a material knock to growth.”

Coronavirus fears forced Australian shopping mall giant Vicinty, which owns Chadstone in Melbourne and The Strand Arcade in Sydney, to downgrade its earnings forecast by 2.2 per cent on Wednesday. Foot traffic has slumped in the popular centres as nervous customers stay away from the shops.

The group’s managing director Grant Kelley said the company was mindful of the impact that novel coronavirus is having on retailers and communities.

“While global uncertainty continues as to the full impact and duration of novel coronavirus, we are undertaking a range of initiatives to mitigate the impact on our portfolio,” he said.

Data released by ANZ on Monday showed spending in major airports in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney dropped 27 per cent from the week before the travel ban was imposed by the Morrison government to the week ending February 8.

Universities are among the most exposed to the ongoing travel restrictions. Research by University of Sydney associate professor Salvatore Babones, released through the Centre for Independent Studies forecasts the minimum revenue loss for all education services to reach up to $2.8 billion.


In China, more than 100 million people are living under quarantine conditions, as the planned restart to the working year is stalled by the ongoing efforts to contain the virus. The National People’s Congress, which 3000 Communist Party delegates were expected to attend in March is set to be postponed. The Boao Forum,  a key event for Australian business leaders in March, is also likely to be delayed.

China’s embassy in Canberra has accused Australia of over-reacting by implementing the travel ban and urged the Morrison government to have an objective view of the situation.

Eryk Bagshaw is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra

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