Mr Morrison said the decision to implement the travel ban was made “to substantially reduce the volume of travellers coming from mainland China” after a meeting of the Chief Medical Officers of all states and territories on Saturday.
Mr Morrison said the meeting noted the “increasing but still relatively small number of cases in provinces outside the Hubei province and the now resulting risk posed from travellers from all of mainland China”.
There have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia so far, including a fourth case in Victoria and two new cases in South Australia on Saturday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also changed its travel advice for China to “do not travel”.
Mr Morrison said the Border Force commissioner would be given the discretion to allow entry to people on flights arriving on Sunday morning.
“They consider that the immediate threat is low but we need to get these arrangements in place as soon as possible,” Mr Morrison said.
“Within 24 hours our advice is that they’ll be able to step up those processes throughout the international channels far more effectively.”
Mr Morrison said that 500,000 masks and thermometers will be provided to airports.
Qantas has announced that it will suspend its flights from mainland China from February 9 until March 29.
The US has announced that it will ban non-US citizens who have recently travelled to China from entering the country from Sunday.
The World Health Organisation currently does not recommend limiting trade and movement, with its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying that “travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering [information] sharing and medical supply chains and harming economies”.
However, Mr Morrison said “our medical advice was that it was in the interests of Australians” to implement restrictions on travel.
Mr Morrison also denied that the decision to transfer people being evacuated from Wuhan to Christmas Island for two weeks was controversial.
“I think…[Australians] also want to be assured that the quarantine arrangements, when we are taking people from the most-affected part of China – which is where this virus began and where the human-to-human contact has been the most prolific – that we are taking the most serious precautions in putting the quarantine arrangements in place,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said he has also told Education Minister Dan Tehan to work with universities to minimise disruption to international students, about 211,000 of whom are from China.
“That can mean the delaying of the commencement of courses, the providing of courses online in the initial phases, the delaying of orientation weeks,” Mr Morrison said.
Catriona Jackson, chief executive of the sector’s peak body Universities Australia, said universities will look to offer online study and deferred start date options to affected students.
Education reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald