More than 260 Australians evacuated from Wuhan and placed in quarantine for 14 days have been released from a facility in Howard Springs near Darwin.
- More than 430 people have been taken to the Darwin facility, some from Wuhan and some from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan
- There were 77 children and 11 babies among those flown in on the second flight from the virus epicentre
- The Howard Springs camp is about 30 kilometres south-east of Darwin’s CBD
Buses collected the evacuees on Sunday morning and took them to Darwin’s airport for their respective flights home.
The 164 Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship remain in quarantine at the facility.
So far, seven Australian passengers from that ship have tested positive for COVID-19.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said those seven patients were in a stable condition.
“None of them will need particularly high-level medical treatment at the moment, but they’ll be monitored and tested and isolated until they’re well and have cleared the virus,” he said.
Among Sunday’s 266 departing evacuees were 77 children and 11 babies, flown in from the coronavirus epicentre in China earlier this month.
It was the second Qantas flight to take Australians out of Wuhan.
The first planeload of 241 evacuees was taken to Christmas Island while another flight, organised by New Zealand authorities, carried about 50 Australians to Christmas Island via Auckland.
‘It’s like a small vacation for me’
Among the evacuees who left on Sunday were Brian Leng and Zilong Long.
Mr Leng, from Melbourne, said he was glad he made the decision to get on the evacuation flight.
“So excited, so relieved, it’s been such a unique ordeal, so to be coming home is really exciting,” he said.
“The people are really supportive and really lovely and accommodate pretty much all your needs, so in hindsight really happy to have made the decision to take this evacuation flight.”
Mr Long, also from Melbourne, said it was difficult at the start but after a few days “everything becomes better”.
“It’s like a small vacation for me,” he said.
They had been staying in a facility, about 30 kilometres south-east of Darwin’s CBD, that once housed 3,500 people who were building Inpex’s $55 billion gas plant on Darwin Harbour.
A video of the site, released by the Department of Home Affairs, showed its rooms and common facilities, including a pool, indoor basketball court and a canteen area with a pool table and dartboards.
Abigail Trewin from the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre has been working at the Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AusMAT) incident command at the Howard Springs camp.
Ms Trewin said some of those returning to their home states on Sunday enjoyed their time in quarantine so much they wanted to stay.
“It’s been a journey that we’ve taken together and we’re just so pleased that everyone is well and happy and able to return to their home states,” she said.
“The group in there have been wonderful to work with, live with, to entertain, to feed.”
More on the coronavirus outbreak:
- What the updated coronavirus travel alert level and additional border measures will mean for you
- The WHO has declared a global emergency for just the sixth time. Here’s what that means
- Aboard the Diamond Princess — how the cruise from hell unfolded
- China says coronavirus is ‘under control’ as 6.5 per cent of world population is in lockdown
- A diary from Christmas Island: A Melbourne mother shares her experience as a coronavirus evacuee
- How the coronavirus emergency is exploited on eBay and Amazon
- Australian lab recreates coronavirus, helping vaccine push
- What exactly is coronavirus, and should you be concerned?