Coronavirus has dominated the news over the last month or so. A serious health issue, it not only impacts the health and well being of individuals but also the travel plans of many.
What is Coronavirus?
The Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 is part of the large Coronavirus family. Coronaviruses cause illnesses from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The symptoms of Coronavirus can range from a mild cold-like illness to pneumonia. People affected with Coronavirus may experience:
- Flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and headaches
- Difficulty breathing
The virus originated at a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China. This market was closed by authorities on 1 January 2020. While the Hubei province is the epicentre of the virus, people from other parts of China are at risk.
At this stage, authorities have advised people are at risk if they come into close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus. Close contact is defined as living in the same household as someone with coronavirus, having been in face-to-face contact for 15 minutes with a person who has been confirmed as having coronavirus in any setting or being with a person with confirmed coronavirus in any shared or closed space for more than two hours.
How does Coronavirus affect my visa?
Your visa conditions do not change. If you are from China and your visa is due to expire, you must leave Australia. If you are reluctant to go back to China for fear of contracting Coronavirus you can choose another destination.
If you plan to travel to China, particularly Wuhan in the Hubei province, in the future you should take the following precautions:
- avoid contact with sick people
- regularly wash your hands
- avoid touching your face and mouth after touching surfaces
These practices are especially important if you have had contact with animals. As a precaution, you should avoid visiting wet markets in general, but particularly in Wuhan.
What travel restrictions are in place as a result of Coronavirus?
Chinese authorities are currently imposing very tight restrictions on all travel from Hubei. Authorities are also asking travellers to reconsider travel to China while they have placed a ‘do not travel’ alert on the Hubei province. Parts of the country have been placed on a restricted travel list and these restrictions may be extended at short notice.
I traveled from China in the last month, should I be worried?
If you have traveled from China in the last month, especially from the Hubei province, it is best to get a check-up.
I have family visiting China, will they be allowed to fly back into Australia?
All travellers arriving from any part of mainland China, regardless of nationality, will be subject to enhanced border control measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the Australian community.
Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited mainland China within the previous 14 days, except for:
- Australian citizens
- permanent residents
- New Zealand citizens resident in Australia
- immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and legal guardians
If your family doesn’t present with any symptoms at the border, they should be fine to re-enter Australia. If travellers are suspected of having Coronavirus symptoms, they will not be allowed to board the plane.
If you have family in the Hubei province, they may be subject to the quarantine lock-down imposed by the Chinese government. It is best to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for more information, www.dfat.gov.au
I’m from Wuhan and am currently visiting Australia on holiday, I don’t want to catch Coronavirus. Can I stay in Australia?
If you are in Australia on holiday, you are required to leave once your holiday is over. If you are not comfortable going back to Wuhan, you can go to another part of China or visit another destination, but you must leave Australia. Unfortunately, Coronavirus is not a reason for the Australian Government to allow you to stay.
Information related to Coronavirus is constantly evolving. If you would like more information about the effects of Coronavirus on visas, please contact the Visa Solutions team on 1800 828 008.