Virus evacuees due to touch down in Darwin


A second evacuation flight is on its way to extract Australians from China, but with Christmas Island unable to house another couple of hundred evacuees, they will be sent to the Manigurr-ma Village at Howard Springs, 30 kilometres from Darwin.

The Qantas plane took off on Friday afternoon for Hong Kong where it will stop over before flying on to Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

The flight is expected to arrive in Darwin on Saturday, according to a joint statement from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy.

Preparations have been made at a former workers village at Howard Springs in Darwin for the arrival of Coronavirus evacuees. Picture GLENN CAMPBELLSource:News Corp Australia

The evacuees will be taken to Howard Springs after the government was told the Christmas Island detention centre currently housing around 270 evacuees could not properly segregate the next group.

Professor Murphy said those staying at the facility were unlikely to become infectious and their health would be closely monitored.

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“It is important people living in and around Howard Springs know the novel coronavirus can only be transmitted by close contact with an infectious person and cannot be spread through the air,” he said.

“The health and safety of the Howard Springs community is of paramount importance and I am confident the security and public health measures put in place will prevent any risk to the community’s health.”

Preparations are being made for the arrival of the coronavirus evacuees at Howard Springs. Picture GLENN CAMPBELL

Preparations are being made for the arrival of the coronavirus evacuees at Howard Springs. Picture GLENN CAMPBELLSource:News Corp Australia

The camp was once a mining village. Picture GLENN CAMPBELL

The camp was once a mining village. Picture GLENN CAMPBELLSource:News Corp Australia

NO PLANS TO EVACUATE CRUISERS

Meanwhile, anxiety is growing among about 200 Australians forced into quarantine as the virus continues to spread on their cruise ship, which is docked at Yokohama in Japan.

Five Australians are among a further 41 people aboard the Diamond Princess to test positive for the virus, taking the total to 61 cases.

“A number of additional cases have been confirmed among the Australians on that vessel, which is up in Japan and they are getting consular support,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Townsville.

Over 3700 people remain quarantined on-board the Diamond Princess due to fears of the new coronavirus. Picture: AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi

Over 3700 people remain quarantined on-board the Diamond Princess due to fears of the new coronavirus. Picture: AFP/Kazuhiro NogiSource:AFP

More than 60 passengers are confirmed to be infected with coronavirus. Picture: by Carl Court/Getty Images

More than 60 passengers are confirmed to be infected with coronavirus. Picture: by Carl Court/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

They have been transferred to medical facilities in Japan along with two other Australian passengers who had previously been confirmed as having the virus.

About 3700 people remain on the ship and face a fortnight in quarantine, with 171 tests on passengers still pending.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Dutton said there were no plans to evacuate Australians from the ship.

“No. Obviously the Japanese authorities, they have an advanced health system they are dealing with what’s a very difficult situation,” he told the Nine Network.

Personnel were spotted wearing protective gear as they provided care for suspected patients on board the Diamond Princess. Picture: AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi

Personnel were spotted wearing protective gear as they provided care for suspected patients on board the Diamond Princess. Picture: AFP/Kazuhiro NogiSource:AFP

Mr Morrison said cruise ships would not be banned from entering Australia. Mr Dutton also revealed people were still travelling from Australia to China in defiance of official travel advice.

“Those people frankly are putting themselves in a difficult situation,” Mr Dutton said. “You can’t guarantee their return, particularly if China shuts its borders.”

Mr Morrison has warned people not to assume further evacuation flights will be possible, either from Wuhan or mainland China.

More Australian evacuees touched down on Christmas Island on Thursday after being flown out of Wuhan, the origin of the infectious outbreak in central China’s Hubei province.

The virus has killed 638 people and infected more than 31,000. There are now 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia: five in Queensland, four each in NSW and Victoria and two in South Australia.



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