Senior high school students who remain in China due to Australian travel restrictions have been offered a lifeline to resume their studies amid the ongoing coronavirus threat.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), which includes State, Territory, and Federal Chief Medical Officers, has announced a strict 13-step framework which would allow small numbers of additional people to enter Australia from China.
In a statement, the Committee said Year 11 and 12 students affected by the travel restrictions could apply for an exemption.
“The decision was taken based on the best medical advice available and with the safety of Australians as the number one priority,” the Committee said.
It said the move followed “the apparent slowing in case numbers in other provinces of mainland China, suggestive of better containment”.
“This framework will be adopted to allow entry for these student and includes strict requirements that students only be permitted entry to Australia if they follow the same strict isolation conditions that apply to Australian citizens and permanent residents who return from China,” the Committee said.
It said the Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner could grant exemptions on a case-by-case basis.
The Committee said around 400 Year 11 and 260 Year 12 students were currently affected by the travel restrictions.
“The inclusion of these students on a case-by-case basis does not apply to anyone from Hubei province,” it said.
“It is only for other regions and is in line with the medical advice that these areas pose a minimal risk due to the much lower number of reported cases,” the Committee said.