Controversial radio host Alan Jones has slammed the Foreign Minister live on air in an explosive rant about flights coming in from China, and suggests the government is frightened of offending its biggest trading partner.
The 2GB radio and Sky News host blew up at Senator Marise Payne on Friday morning for not grounding all flights from China to Australia.
‘I ask you this because today the flights arriving in Sydney are 6.45am, 9.30am, 9.35, 10.15, 10.40, 20.40, 2.35, 2.55, 3.20,’ Jones said.
‘That’s just into Sydney alone and there are direct flights from China to Melbourne and Brisbane when every region of mainland china now has confirmed cases of the virus. And I ask you, why haven’t you grounded every flight?’
The 2GB radio and Sky News host blew up at Senator Marise Payne on Friday morning for not grounding all flights from China to Australia (pictured: people in face masks at Brisbane airport)
Controversial radio host Alan Jones (right) has slammed the Foreign Minister Marise Payne (left) live on air in an explosive rant about flights coming in from China
Ms Payne defended the government’s actions and said they are working ‘step by step with authorities’, who have made it clear it is still safe for flights to arrive in Australia from China.
‘They have repeatedly told us that stopping all flights from China is not recommended at this stage and in fact no other country has stopped all flights from China,’ the Foreign Minister said.
‘So we review that every single day and we will continue to do that.’
But that wasn’t enough for Jones, who pushed the matter further and claimed ‘the public mood’ was against Ms Payne.
‘At the end of the day I don’t think anyone believes that China is telling the international communities the truth,’ Jones said.
‘I’m just saying if every region in mainland China has confirmed cases – we are flying people out here from all of those regions.’
Ms Payne told Jones her department has taken steps ‘way ahead’ of the World Health Organisation and worked quickly to install more biosecurity at airports.
‘We have acted to advise the 14 days of isolation for anyone who has come out of Hubei province as an extra step,’ she said.
Jones interrupted Ms Payne and questioned why she was still letting flights with hundreds of people from China arrive in Australia when people are testing positive to the virus despite not having any symptoms.
Ms Payne defended the government’s actions and said they are working ‘step by step with authorities’ (pictured: China Southern Airlines cabin crew at Brisbane Airport)
Thousands of people could have been exposed to coronavirus in Australia by the country’s nine confirmed patients alone
Coronavirus victims’ journey to Australia: What we know
Queensland’s two confirmed coronavirus cases are a Chinese nationals – a man and a woman – from the same tour group that spent about six days in Melbourne before flying to the Gold Coast.
The man, 44, fell ill on Tiger Air flight TT566 from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on Monday night. He was travelling with eight other tourists, four of whom have fallen ill and were being tested for the virus.
A 42-year-old woman – who was part of the same tour group – was confirmed on Thursday night as Queensland’s second coronavirus case.
WHAT WE KNOW
* The tour group came from Wuhan and stopped in Singapore before flying to Australia.
*They left Singapore on either January 21 or 22, and landed in Melbourne on January 22.
*The group spent the next five days in the Victorian capital touring the city.
*Authorities are now trying to track their movements and alert people who may have been in contact.
*The tour group boarded Tiger Air flight TT566 on January 27 at 7.44pm AEDT and landed at the Gold Coast Airport at 8.45pm AEST.
*The passenger was travelling on a booking with one other person and they were seated in 11A and 11B.
*The 44-year-old developed symptoms on the flight, which was carrying about 150-200 passengers.
*The man travelled to his Gold Coast hotel, before calling an ambulance. He spent less than 24 hours in the hotel.
* The man and four others from the tour group who developed symptoms have been isolated in the Gold Coast University Hospital.
He claimed people could be on the flights with no symptoms at all and could be carrying the virus straight into Australia.
Jones said: ‘A person can infect two or three others. we’re just letting people into the country. You can’t bring a nail file in but you can bring a virus.’
As Ms Payne was defending the procedures taken to protect Australians, Jones said there were claims that ‘political sensitivities’ were at play.
‘People are saying there are political sensitivities at play here about China that didn’t exist with other epidemics like Ebola in West Africa, and we are frightened of China,’ the radio host said.
‘We’re frightened of offending China. We know that the Chinese students most probably keep our universities financial.’
‘We know that we’ve got massive massive indebtedness to China we’ve got massive exports to China. So the money is coming ahead of the public health.’
A pamphlet handed out by the Australian Government providing travellers with information on the deadly coronavirus (pictured)
Ms Payne disagreed with the claims completely and said the government is placing all priority on the public health of Australians.
She said her department took steps ahead of the WHO to advise Australians not to travel to the Hubei province and to reconsider all travel to China.
Thousands of Australians have now been exposed to the coronavirus in Australia by the nine confirmed cases.
Up to 49,000 people are landing on flights from China per week and a global health emergency has now been declared over the virus.
Four people in Sydney, three in Melbourne, and two on the Gold Coast have been struck down with the deadly virus in recent weeks.
Each one flew in from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, on planes packed with hundreds of potential victims.
Students at the University of NSW where a classmate was diagnosed with coronavirus say they are too afraid to go back to class
A 21-year-old Chinese student was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this week after she flew back from Wuhan on January 23
At least a day passed after they arrived before they developed flu-like symptoms and eventually went to hospital.
During this time when they didn’t know they were sick, they interacted with hundreds of people each, some of whom could now be infected.
One patient was even allowed out of isolation to celebrate Australia Day at a restaurant with his family while he was waiting for test results.
It comes as China’s coronavirus death toll hits 170 and the World Health Organisation declares a global health emergency.
Speaking to reporters, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: ‘The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries.
‘Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.’
LATEST AUSTRALIAN FIGURES ON THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Nine people have contracted the virus after travelling to Australia from Hubei province in central China.
* The tally is four in NSW, three in Victoria and two in Queensland. Two of the NSW victims are no longer infectious and were discharged from hospital on Thursday. The others are all stable.
* The latest case is a 42-year-old Chinese woman who travelled from Wuhan to the Gold Coast via Melbourne. She is now in isolation in a Gold Coast hospital.
* China’s women’s soccer team, which includes 32 players and staff, remains in isolation at a Brisbane hotel after arriving on Wednesday.
* The federal government plans to evacuate Australians from the Hubei capital of Wuhan after about 600 citizens and residents registered for help to get out. China must approve the plan.
* They will be flown to Christmas Island and put in quarantine for two weeks.
* The federal health department has issued new advice amid evidence the virus has been spread by people before they develop any symptoms.
* Anyone who has recently been to Hubei or had contact with a confirmed case must isolate themselves at home for 14 days from the date of their departure.
* Some 170 people have died from the virus in mainland China, and the number of confirmed cases is now more than 7000. Most of the deaths have been in Hubei.
* Some major airlines have halted all flights to China, but so far Qantas is not among them.
* The virus is now affecting most of Australia’s regional neighbours including Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and Cambodia.
* The Australian government is advising people to reconsider travel to China and not go to Hubei province.
(Sources: China’s National Health Commission, Australian Chief Medical Officer and state chief health officers)