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The Australian government is extending its coronavirus travel ban to South Korea, with enhanced screening for travellers from Italy

James Hennessy
  • The Australian government's travel ban, which currently applies China and Iran, will be extended to South Korea.
  • South Korea has the second-most cases of the coronavirus, with over 5,000 confirmed, followed by Italy and Iran.
  • Despite the high number of cases in Italy – over 2,500 – it is not being added to the travel ban. Instead, travellers will be subject to enhanced screening procedures, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia's homepage for more stories.

South Korea will be added to Australia's coronavirus travel ban, joining China and Iran, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Morrison confirmed the decision had been made after a meeting of the National Security committee. The existing travel bans will be extended by another week, meaning they will now be in place until at least March 15. The government will consider whether the ban needs to be extended further closer to that date.

As with the previous bans, Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to re-enter Australia, but will have to isolate themselves for a fortnight following their arrival. Foreign nationals who have visited those countries will not be allowed in Australia for 14 days after leaving.

Morrison also announced travellers from Italy would be subject to enhanced screening measures, including a questioning at the check-in desk and a temperature check upon their arrival in Australia.

“The ban is put in place because it affords the best protection and enables us to slow down the rate of transmission, which means that the health system and all the other plans put in place will be able to deal with the virus here in Australia,” Morrison said.

South Korea has over 5,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the second-most after China where the virus originated. By contrast, Italy has over 2,500 cases, and Iran has just over 2,300.

Morrison said South Korea was targeted for the travel ban over Italy because there are "five times" as many arrivals from South Korea.

The government's advice on the Smartraveller website currently recommends travellers to South Korea exercise a high degree of caution while travelling in the country, and to reconsider going to Daegu and Cheongdo.

Earlier this week, the government announced it was upgrading its travel advice for Italy, urging a high degree of caution for all travellers.

Australians were also encouraged to reconsider travel to ten towns in the country's north, which have become an epicentre for the outbreak.