More Australians evacuated from Wuhan to Christmas Island

Cheryl Sanders
February 5, 2020

The first group of Australian citizens evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan have touched down on Christmas Island.


Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he has asked for permission for a second evacuation flight out of Wuhan, which he said would likely be Canberra's last.

Australia on Saturday followed the United States in barring entry to all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China and raised its travel warning for China to the highest level, advising people against visiting the country at all.

They endured about 24 hours in transit, including a stop at Western Australia's RAAF Base Learmonth, near Exmouth, before being taken on smaller aircraft to the island.

"They haven't shown signs of the virus, and all going well, God willing, they won't be showing signs of it and will in 14 days repatriate back home to their nation, Australia", the centre's executive director Len Notaras told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Officials said the evacuees will be held separately from a Sri Lankan family of four fighting their deportation - the only other residents of the facility. "I won't say that it is a salubrious one, but it is modern, and it is clean".

More than 100 Australians are expected to be amongst the passengers on an Air New Zealand flight heading to Auckland on Tuesday carrying about 50 New Zealanders and an unknown number of Pacific Islanders on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the flight was late leaving Wuhan due to a "very intensive process to manage the immigration and boarding arrangements" that also included medical checks.

At the centre of discussions is what will happen to the Australians once the plane lands in Auckland, where they would be expected to be put into quarantine.

"It's not prison. There will be security there.but people will be able to send them stuff in".

Some 241 passengers on the initial flight will be quarantined for two weeks at the remote island, about 1,400km north-west of mainland Australia, as a precaution to prevent the spread of a new flu-like coronavirus. These include bans on travellers transiting China.

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