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Travel Limits On Foreign Passengers, Qantas To Suspend Flights To Mainland China

Foreign travellers who have left or passed through mainland China will be denied entry to Australia as officials try to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family will be exempt from the strict measures, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.

Australians are also being told not to travel to mainland China as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases grows.

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Qantas will suspend its two direct services to mainland China due to travel restrictions imposed by other countries in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The airline says entry restrictions imposed the United States, Singapore and other countries will impact the movement of crew who work across the Qantas International network.

It will suspend its Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai services from February 9 until March 29.

The Beijing service was already due to end, due to commercial reasons, on February 23.

Image: AAP

Hong Kong services will remain unchanged as it is currently exempt from travel restrictions.

Air France-KLM has joined other major airlines in suspending flights to China, as cabin crews voiced unease about exposure to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus which has killed more than 170 people.

Cabin crew unions demanded an immediate halt to Air France's Beijing and Shanghai flights ahead of a works council meeting, staff representatives said on Thursday.

"Air France's top priority is the health and safety of its customers and employees," the airline said, adding that flights to mainland China had been suspended until February 9, "after careful consideration of the developing situation".

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The airline joins others including British Airways and Germany's Lufthansa that have dropped mainland Chinese destinations besides Wuhan, the outbreak's centre, which is closed to commercial air traffic.

Virgin Atlantic also said on Thursday it would suspend its daily operations to Shanghai from Sunday for two weeks because of the safety of customers and staff and a declining demand for tickets.

Other major carriers have kept flying to China, but protective masks and shorter layovers designed to reduce exposure have done little to reassure crews.

Thai Airways is hosing its cabins with disinfectant spray between China flights and allowing crew to wear masks and gloves.

A man wearing a face mask walks past a Coronavirus notice at Heathrow Airport in London. Image: EPA

Delta Air Lines is operating fewer China flights and shorter layovers, with food deliveries so crew can stay in their hotels.

Korean Air Lines Co Ltd and Singapore Airlines are sending additional crew to fly each plane straight back, avoiding overnight stays.

The outbreak poses the biggest epidemic threat to the airline industry since the 2003 SARS crisis, which led to a 45 per cent plunge in passenger demand in Asia at its peak in April of that year, analysts said.