Crisis move: Coronavirus laws fast-tracked

NEW laws will be fast-tracked through the Queensland Parliament allowing the coronavirus health emergency order to be extended for up to three months.

Under existing legislation, the initial order signed by Health Minister Steven Miles, expires tomorrow.

The order gives Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and other emergency officers appointed under the Public Health Act wide-ranging powers to manage the coronavirus crisis, such as forcing people into quarantine.


"It allows emergency officers to require a person to remain at a particular place or stop a person from going to a particular place," Mr Miles said.

"It also allows police and other agencies to enforce the directions of emergency medical officers."

But without changes to legislation, Mr Miles would have had to seek formal approval from the Governor-in-Council for new regulations every seven days to ensure the public health emergency order remained in place.

"This will give the community and our health staff greater certainty as we manage this outbreak," he said.

Plans for the new laws, expected to be rushed through Parliament this week, coincide with a call by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for the Commonwealth to enact natural disaster provisions to help states deal with the coronavirus threat.

The trigger, usually activated in cyclones and bushfires, would allow the state to recover 50 per cent of the costs it's incurring as it isolates suspected cases, and travellers from China, to try to contain the virus outbreak. That would include the cost of putting up tourists in hotels for two weeks in seclusion.


Ms Palaszczuk said she had written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about instituting National Disaster Relief Arrangements and was hopeful he would consider it.

More than 200 travellers have been screened for the new coronavirus after arriving at Brisbane International Airport from China since Sunday when new protocols were put in place.

Nurses are meeting all flights from China, individually assessing every passenger for signs of the virus and advising them to remain in quarantine for 14 days as part of Australia's strategy to contain the new virus. Two people who were taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital for further assessment on Sunday after arriving in Brisbane, were cleared and discharged.



More than 370 people have been tested in Queensland for the novel virus since January 22.

The Courier-Mail understands staff have been boosted at the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services laboratory to cope with the added workload.

So far the virus, believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 360 people and infected more than 17,000, mostly in China.

The first death outside China involved a man from the Philippines.

The number of confirmed cases in Queensland last night remained at two - a man, 44, and a woman, 42, who are in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

Both are Chinese tourists who were travelling as part of a nine-member tour group.

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