Australians who have been approved for the flight have been told by DFAT this could be the last planeload of assisted departures by the Australian government.
DFAT has told those approved for the flight to let them know as soon as possible if don’t intend to take up the option because there is “significant interest” in the evacuation from the hundreds of Australians still stuck in Hubei.
“The number of people wanting to secure their return to Australia is far more than there are seats available on the flight,” DFAT has told passengers in an email.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally has hit 28,261, and the death toll has reached 565.
Fifteen cases have been confirmed in Australia, including three people who have recovered.
Those on the flight will be quarantined for 14 days, along with the more than 270 evacuees already on Christmas Island.
With Christmas Island approaching capacity, Australian officials are now working to identify mainland sites to take more evacuees, with disused mining sites and hotels discussed as an option.
The first Qantas flight earlier this month took 241 Australian citizens and permanent residents to Christmas Island, who were later joined by 35 additional evacuees who arrived via an Air New Zealand flight.
Chinese officials will test the temperature of the Australian citizens and residents, and they will not be allowed to board the flight if they have a temperature.
All passengers will need to wear supplied face masks and change them every two hours or when damp.
“While we expect everyone who boards this flight to be fit, healthy and unaffected by the virus, in order to ensure everyone is protected, the Australian government expects infection control behaviours to be adhered to at all times on the flight.
“Should passengers cough or sneeze during the flight, please instruct them to remove their mask before coughing or sneezing into their elbow and to use alcohol-based hand rub after any coughing or sneezing event.”
Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.