By Kylie Stevens For Daily Mail Australia
Published: 06:27 GMT, 1 March 2020 | Updated: 06:27 GMT, 1 March 2020
Almost 100 wealthy and powerful foreigners who have recently visited China have been authorised to bypass a strict coronavirus travel ban and sneak into Australia.
The Australian Border Force Commissioner has given 99 foreign business leaders and diplomats the green light to enter Australia in the last four weeks as the number of confirmed cases across the country grows to 26.
It comes on the same day Australia reported its first death from the deadly virus after a male passenger, 78, who was on board the doomed Diamond Princess cruise ship while it was quarantined off Japan died in hospital in Perth on Sunday.
The federal government has confirmed Australian Border Force Commissioner used his discretion to permit entry to 99 foreigners on 28 occasions, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
A strict coronavirus travel ban for foreign visitors who have travelled to China remains in place. Pictured are visitors arriving in Brisbane before the ban was enforced
They included diplomats who are residents in Australia and Chinese citizens receiving treatment in Australia or visiting sick family members.
It's understood they all passed an initial health screening before being requested to to isolate themselves for 14 days.
A Department of Home Affairs spokesman told the publication the Commissioner authorised clearance to enter Australia for those with 'compelling or compassionate circumstances' and where health authorities supported the request.
An Australian Border Force spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia it was a matter for the Department of Home Affairs, which was contacted for further comment.
It's been four weeks since Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a ban on foreign travellers who have left or passed through mainland China from arriving on our shores.
The Australian Border Force Commissioner used his discretion to permit entry to 99 foreigners into Australia during the ban. Pictured are foreigner travellers before the ban was enforced
The travel ban remains in place after it was extended for the third time this week, which now also includes foreigners coming to Australia from Iran.
The travel ban does not apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families as well as airline staff.
Universities' plans have been thrown into chaos with up to 100,000 international students are unable to return to Australia in time for the start of semester.
Some Australian universities have delayed the start of the semester this month due to the travel ban.
There are 26 confirmed cases in Australia, 11 of whom have recovered, after two new infections were confirmed in Victoria and NSW on Sunday.
The Chinese travel ban remains in place after it was extended for the third time this week