Karl Stefanovic questioned the federal education minister on the Today show this morning.
Karl Stefanovic questioned the federal education minister on the Today show this morning.

‘Isolate your children’: Karl’s virus rant

Karl Stefanovic has questioned the federal education minister's advice on schools in a interview about the spread of the deadly coronavirus in Australia.

On the Today show this morning, the outspoken host asked minister Dan Tehan whether parents should be "isolating" their kids for up to two weeks to help stop the virus's spread.

The minister said schools and parents should be following medical expert advice, which is that you are fine to send your kids to school unless you've been in direct contact with someone who has the virus or is showing symptoms.

However, Stefanovic argued the Federal Government's advice is constantly changing. Just after midnight last night, the government issued new travel advice for China, warning all Australians should now reconsider their need to travel to the country.

"With the greatest respect, the advice is changing so quickly," Stefanovic said, responding to the minister. "Last night, it changed in the dead of the night.

"Now it is going to evolve into something else. Isn't it better that we take precautions now and take it to the extreme?



"And we're talking about extreme, just isolate your kids for two weeks, that is not a big burden, otherwise we run the risk of this thing going and spreading faster than we can take control of?"

Mr Tehan responded by saying parents should be listening to the advice of medical experts.

"That advice is unless you've been in direct contact with someone who has the virus or is showing symptoms, you are fine to go to school or go to a childcare centre," he said.

"Individual schools can make their own decisions. But as Education Minister, with Health Minister Greg Hunt, we've got to take the advice of the medical experts. It is medical experts not only here in Australia, but also overseas."

He added that schools are run by the state and territories, but he has been in "permanent contact" with education ministers around the nation about the spread of the coronavirus.

"We will change the advice when it comes to schools, when it comes to childcare centres, when it comes to universities if they (medical experts) advise us that is the right thing to do," he said.

"We can't act on whims here. We have to act on the best available information which is provided to us and that is what the Federal Government will continue to do."

Overnight, foreign minister Marise Payne announced new travel advice, just after midnight, saying no-one should travel to China's Hubei province, where dozens of people have died and thousands more have been infected by the coronavirus.



"Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus we now advise you 'reconsider your need to travel' to China overall and 'do not travel' to Hubei province," the advice on smartraveller.gov.au now reads.

"Chinese authorities have restricted travel for parts of the country and may extend these restrictions at short notice. Travellers may be quarantined, due to their health condition or previous location."

Five people are being treated in Australian hospitals for the virus, with four of those cases in NSW alone.

NSW schoolchildren have been told to stay at home if they've returned from China within the past 14 days - the incubation period of the virus.

Authorities are bracing for more infections to be confirmed in Australia, and are working to trace all human contact made by infected patients since they entered the country.

Four adult patients in Western Australia were cleared of the virus after undergoing tests on Tuesday evening.

This all comes as around 400 Australian citizens have registered to be evacuated from Wuhan, the city in central China where the deadly virus first infected humans.

Around 400 Australian citizens have registered to be evacuated from Wuhan. Picture: Getty Images
Around 400 Australian citizens have registered to be evacuated from Wuhan. Picture: Getty Images

Australian embassy officials have met with Chinese authorities in Beijing to discuss the diplomatic options available to help citizens stranded there.

The coronavirus death toll has jumped past 100 and there are now more than 4500 confirmed cases of infection in mainland China.

"Right now, the Australian government, through our embassy, is looking to deploy, working with the Chinese government consular officials, into Hubei province, into Wuhan," prime minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.





• Five people have the virus after returning from China's Hubei province, where coronavirus first surfaced in December. All are being treated in hospital and are in a stable condition.

• About 400 Australian citizens have registered for evacuation from the city of Wuhan in Hubei.

• At this stage, health authorities do not believe people can pass on coronavirus unless they have symptoms.


• Official advice to school students who have returned to Australia from China is that if they are healthy, it is reasonable for them to attend school. If they have been in contact with somebody with coronavirus, they should not attend school for up to 14 days.

• But some Australian private schools have told students who have recently visited China to stay at home for a fortnight. Brisbane's Stuarthome School for girls will keep 10 of its boarders in quarantine for two weeks after they arrived from China this week.


• Four confirmed cases - a 21-year-old University of NSW student who was diagnosed after flying back from the virus epicentre in Wuhan, and three men - aged 35, 43 and 53 - who are being treated at Westmead Hospital.

• Six potential cases are being assessed.


• One confirmed case - a man in his 50s is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family are under home isolation.

• Thirteen people have been tested, but authorities do not believe they are likely to have the virus.

• 42 Victorians have tested negative.


• Six people tested, awaiting results.

• One person tested and cleared.


• Four people tested and awaiting results, with one case believed to be "probable".


• Four people tested negative.


• A man was discharged from hospital on Sunday after testing negative.


• At least 106 people have died from the virus in China

• Cases in Chinese national total of confirmed cases has risen to 4515, after 1771 new cases were confirmed on Monday. Of those, 976 are in a serious condition

(Sources: China's National Health Commission, Australian Chief Medical Officer and state chief health officers)



With AAP

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