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Prime Minister announces major operation to combat coronavirus

Article image for Prime Minister announces major operation to combat coronavirus

The Prime Minister has addressed the nation, outlining his plan to tackle the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

With the death toll in China climbing above 130 and more than 400 Australians trapped in Wuhan, Scott Morrison has described the situation as “serious and evolving”.

He’s revealed the government will attempt an operation to evacuate “isolated and vulnerable Australians”.

The Christmas Island detention centre will be turned into a quarantine facility, where all evacuees will be forced to stay for at least 14 days.

The PM detailed several steps that will be taken to stop the spread of the disease, with five confirmed cases in Australia and many more under investigation.

  • Releasing one million safety masks from the national stockpile
  • Upgrading travel advice, urging Australians to reconsider trips to all of China
  • Multi-lingual information package delivered to all tourism operators
  • Operation to evacuate isolated and vulnerable Australians from Wuhan
  • Reopening Christmas Island as a quarantine facility for all evacuees

“I stress there is a limited window here and we are moving very, very swiftly to ensure we can put this plan together and put this operation together,” the Prime Minister said during an address in Canberra on Wednesday afternoon.

“Anyone who is transported to Christmas Island would be there, we envisage, for up to 14 days, which is the advised period of quarantine for the incubation of this virus. That will be a condition of those who seek to take part in this arrangement.”

Click PLAY below to watch the PM’s full announcement

Following the announcement, Scott Morrison addressed the National Press Club in Canberra with his first major speech of 2020.

Federal Political Editor Michael Pachi tells Deborah Knight the speech was different from usual.

“The first National Press Club address for a Prime Minister is meant to be setting out their vision for a particular year.

“The only focus he’s had on the economy… was right at the start.

“I do think that the Prime Minister feels they’ve got to do a lot more to get on the front foot in the way they’ve handled the bushfire crisis. I think they are getting themselves on track but it’s just taken too long to get there.”

The PM also spoke about changing the law to give the federal government greater power to declare a state of emergency.

Click PLAY below to hear Michael Pachi’s full take on the speech

Image: Getty/Rohan Thomson