Virus evacuation flight finally flees to Darwin


Federal Immigration minister Marise Payne confirmed on Saturday that the Qantas flight had left for Darwin and acknowledged “the cooperative approach of the Chinese Government”.

Qantas Flight 6032 had originally been scheduled to leave Wuhan on Friday night but did not get clearance to land from China.

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With 241 passengers spending a tense extra day in Wuhan, the plane remained in Hong Kong on Saturday before touching down in Wuhan for a 3.15am Sunday departure.

One of the evacuees, a young girl, has been tested for coronavirus after falling ill, but results have not been released.

All will be sent to the Manigurr-ma Village at Howard Springs, an old mining camp 30km southeast Darwin.

Australian evacuees arriving at Christmas Island this week after evacuation from coronavirus epicentre Wuhan in China. Picture: Richard WainwrightSource:AAP

An Australian evacuee flight from Wuhan to Christmas Island was followed by a second flight which left for Darwin on Sunday morning. Picture: Richard Wainwright.

An Australian evacuee flight from Wuhan to Christmas Island was followed by a second flight which left for Darwin on Sunday morning. Picture: Richard Wainwright.Source:AAP

Workers Village at Howard Springs near Darwin where 241 evacuated on Sunday from Wuhan are headed. Picture: Glenn Campbell.

Workers Village at Howard Springs near Darwin where 241 evacuated on Sunday from Wuhan are headed. Picture: Glenn Campbell.Source:News Corp Australia

This was after the government’s first quarantine option of Christmas Island was unable to house further hundreds of people as they wait out the two-week coronavirus incubation period.

Two groups of Australian citizens and permanent residents have been extracted from China to Christmas Island, which lies between Western Australia and Indonesia.

A further 35 will be evacuated on an Air New Zealand flight, although it is unclear whether the smaller number will able to be accommodated on Christmas Island.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Saturday the young girl tested was not seriously ill and her symptoms could be “all sorts of things”, he said.

Meanwhile, passengers trapped on the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Yokohama, Japan with coronavirus victims on board including Australians may face delays in disembarking, even after the 14-day quarantine period has expired.

Japanese Health Corps vehicle next to virus ship Diamond Princess which has 61 infected on board including seven Australians. Picture: Kazuhiro Nogi

Japanese Health Corps vehicle next to virus ship Diamond Princess which has 61 infected on board including seven Australians. Picture: Kazuhiro NogiSource:AFP

The ship has 3700 passengers on board including 64 who have tested positive to coronavirus; seven of the infected are Australian, while another 219 Australians are asymptomatic so far.

The issue facing health authorities is assessing when each patient became infected, when their incubation period ends and if there are any passengers carrying the virus without symptoms.

Another cruise ship at Hong Kong with coronavirus on board has 16 Australians, none of whom are ill.

AAP reported authorities had just become aware of a third cruise ship, located somewhere between Japan and Guam, affected by coronavirus.

Australia has had 15 confirmed coronavirus cases: five in Queensland, four each in NSW and Victoria and two in South Australia.

The coronavirus — known as 2019-nCoV — has infected 34,963 people, and claimed725 lives, according to the John Hopkins coronavirus tracker.

candace.sutton@news.com.au



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