Australians rescued from Wuhan touch down on Christmas Island Published on: 2/4/2020

Australians rescued from Wuhan touch down on Christmas Island

User Image Web Editor Last updated on: 2/4/2020

Australians rescued from Wuhan touch down on Christmas Island ahead of 14-day quarantine after Qantas flight out of the Chinese virus epicentre

The first Australian citizens evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan have landed on Christmas Island. Seventy-two people were on board the first of four charter flights expected to take more than 240 evacuees to the Indian Ocean island, The Australian reports. The Airbus left Western Australia's RAAF Base Learmonth, near Exmouth, on Monday night, and touched down on Christmas Island about 9pm local time (1am Tuesday AEDT). Those on board were among the 243 who had earlier been evacuated from Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus, via a Qantas flight that arrived at the Learmonth base about 4pm local time on Monday. After landing on Christmas Island the evacuees - who wore face masks and included men, women and children - were met by army and medics and taken to buses, the newspaper reported.

They are to remain on the island for at least 14 days. 

a large white airplane parked in a parking lot: The first Australian citizens evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan have landed on Christmas Island (pictured arriving in WA before transferring to a charter flight for last leg)
© Provided by Daily Mail The first Australian citizens evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan have landed on Christmas Island (pictured arriving in WA before transferring to a charter flight for last leg)
a group of people standing next to a train: The citizens were met by army and medics and taken to buses ahead of a 14-day quarantine
© Provided by Daily Mail The citizens were met by army and medics and taken to buses ahead of a 14-day quarantine

Of the 243 passengers, five are under two years old while 89 are younger than 16.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the plan was for passengers to be isolated in small family groups on Christmas Island.

'There won't be a full mingling,' he said in Canberra on Monday.

'If someone does get unwell their family might have to start again for 14 days but we wouldn't want to expose the whole group to that.'

Footage emerged showing the 243 'vulnerable' Australians on board the evacuation flight overnight.

Passengers filmed themselves holding up what they called their 'golden tickets' at the airport while wearing face masks before boarding the flight from China. 

The airline provided passengers with a bright yellow plastic 'clinical waste' bags on their seats.

Inside the emergency kit was sanitiser, face masks and hand wipes.

a group of people in a room: Footage emerged showing the Australian citizens aboard the Qantas rescue flight
© Provided by Daily Mail Footage emerged showing the Australian citizens aboard the Qantas rescue flight
a person wearing a hat: Two Australians wore face masks as they spoke about their rescue flight out of Wuhan
© Provided by Daily Mail Two Australians wore face masks as they spoke about their rescue flight out of Wuhan

Professional roller blader Rob Kellet, whose girlfriend remains in Wuhan, filmed himself on the plane saying: 'Who knows what the right choice was but it's the safer one.'

His friend Josh Nielzen, also a roller blader, shared messages to his father on social media. 

'Hey dad just thought I'd give you the latest update,' he said.

'There's a flight leaving here in five hours and I'm at the airport,' to which his father responded: 'Great news Josh.' 

Earlier, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce paid tribute to the crew of four pilots and 14 cabin staff who volunteered for the mission.

'I spoke to the crew last night and through FaceTime video and they were all very keen to get this done and get the Aussies out,' he said.

a group of people posing for the camera: Qantas (airline staff pictured on Friday) revealed plans to suspend its direct flights to mainland China
© Provided by Daily Mail Qantas (airline staff pictured on Friday) revealed plans to suspend its direct flights to mainland China

Passengers underwent health checks before boarding the flight and were set to wear surgical masks.

There was a limited food and beverage service to minimise interaction between crew and passengers and the plane will now undergo a three-day cleaning process.

The crew had masks, gloves, and sanitisers and were placed on the upper deck of the aircraft.

The plane has medical-grade filters that remove particles in the air, including viruses.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government would 'consider what might be necessary' when asked if a second flight would be organised from Wuhan.

There have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, and more than 17,000 cases and 360 deaths globally.

Foreign travellers who have left or passed through China will be denied entry to Australia to limit the spread of the virus.    


2/4/2020 | 14 | Permalink