Over60

TV

“Isolate your children”: Karl Stefanovic questions education minister’s coronavirus plan for schools

“Isolate your children”: Karl Stefanovic questions education minister’s coronavirus plan for schools

Fired up Karl Stefanovic clashed with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan live on air over the government’s coronavirus advice to school as students head back to class.

The government and health authorities are currently taking extra care not to incite unnecessary panic, but the Today show host pointed out the potentially high stakes.

Stefanovic then called into question the confidence from the education minister.

“With the greatest respect, the advice is changing so quickly ... Last night, it changed in the dead of the night,” Stefanovic said, seemingly referring to Foreign Minister Marise Payne announcing just after midnight advice not travel to central China's Hubei Province.

“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 the extreme,” he noted.

“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.”

However, Tehan stood firm by his position, saying that the government would update its stance in line with advice from medical experts.

“(The) 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.”

Stefanovic was not pleased with this, saying that the government isn’t doing enough.

“The thing is, it seems like a whole lot worse than your position,” Stefanovic told the minister.

“Schools are taking it into their own hands, because they don’t clearly believe you are doing enough at this point and the reality is you don’t have a say do you.”

Tehan remained silent as Stefanovic continued his tirade.

“This sort of information flow is just weird, and it’s not good enough,” Stefanovic said.

“The problem is you’ve got parents at home not knowing what to do because the information has not been clear and present.”

On Tuesday, Tehan raised eyebrows by rebuking schools who said that international students should stay away from Australia. Tehan said that Australia should send a message, saying that the country is open for international students.

Network Ten’s political editor Peter Van Onselen was less than impressed.

“I really am shocked by the recklessness of Tehan’s comments,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

“If Tehan really feels so relaxed about the risks he should sit down in a closed room with a large number of people arriving back from over there for days on end to discuss the issue... take his children too, given he expects us to put ours in harm’s way.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has since responded to the Australians impacted by the coronavirus, saying that the Aussies evacuated from the epicentre of the outbreak will be quarantined on Christmas Island.

“We have taken the decision this morning to prepare a plan for an operation to provide some assisted departures for isolated and vulnerable Australians in Wuhan and the Hubei province,” Mr Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra this morning.

“I stress there is a rather limited window here and we are moving very, very swiftly to ensure we can put this plan together.”

However, he has stressed that there is "no guarantee" that the quarantine will be successful in stopping the virus.

Morrison also urged Australians to get information from official sources due to the mass amount of misinformation spreading about the virus.

“A key part of our armoury is information, and having the right information, and ensuring people are going to the right source of information and making decisions based on that accurate information,” he said.

“I would encourage all Australians to focus on getting that information from the trusted sources, which are directly from public health authorities.”