A series of hospital beds set up in a portable building is what will greet hundreds of Australians when they are evacuated from the coronavirus ‘ground zero’ to Christmas Island.
About 600 Australians are trapped in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak that has killed 170 Chinese people and infected more than 7,000.
On Wednesday the Australian Federal Government announced a plan to evacuate those stranded on a Qantas jet to the island, which sits 1,650 kilometres off the coast of Western Australia.
On Thursday night, authorities were preparing the detention centre as the government awaits approval from the China to implement its plan.
A medical facility has been set up on Christmas Island as more the government plans to evacuate hundreds of Australians from Wuhan
A demountable hospital has been set up with beds inside on Christmas Island
A garden area has been set up along with a indoor gym, equipped with an array of exercise machines.
Demountables have also been built to house a hospital where several beds had been set up.
The hospital will also hold diagnostic and protective equipment and negative pressure facilities.
Once the evacuees arrive in Christmas Island, they will spend 14 days there in quarantine.
They will then be re-directed to Perth before having to make their own way home.
On Thursday evacuees were told they would need to pay $1,000 before they could leave Wuhan.
‘People have to pay for the flight from China back to Australia. That’s, as I’m advised by DFAT, the normal way in which these things occur and that will be the limit of the contribution,’ Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday.
A 24-strong team of medical professionals are also bound for Christmas Island.
The executive director of the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, Professor Len Notaras said the doctors, nurses and allied health officials being sent to the island were of the ‘highest calibre’ and were being drawn from every state and territory.
A garden area is seen at the detention centre which could become home to Australian evacuees for 14 days
The Federal Government announced the plan to evacuate Australians trapped in the coronavirus epicentre but are waiting approval from the Chinese government
Prof Notaras told reporters in Darwin it was important to note those people who will be placed in isolation were not sick at this stage.
He said they would not be held in detention, although their movements would be restricted.
Anyone who became critically ill would likely be repatriated to Australia, possibly to Western Australia or to a hospital close to where they live, Prof Notaras said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia’s actions were driven by medical advice, and the World Health Organisation was strong in its support for quarantine measures to stem the spread of the virus.
A 24-strong team of medical professionals are also bound for Christmas Island
A gym has also been set up in the detention centre with an array of exercise equipment
‘Our job is to protect Australians and provide support for citizens overseas and the best way to do that is to find a place which was designed to deal with people who were coming (from) overseas … and to do that in a way which is humane,’ Mr Hunt said.
Mr Dutton defended the Christmas Island plan, saying it would help keep Australia safe.
‘I can’t clear a hospital in Sydney or Melbourne to accommodate 600 people. We don’t have a facility otherwise that can take this number of people,’ he told the Nine Network on Thursday.
Christmas Island administrator Natasha Griggs said residents had expressed some concerns but had been assured that all necessary measures had been put in place to ensure the safety of locals.
‘By and large, the Christmas Island residents understand that this is a humanitarian mission and they’re generally supportive,’ she said.
‘We’ve got a fantastic team of people that have got experience in doing this, a track record of success so the residents of Christmas Island have no need to worry.’
But Australian Medical Association boss Tony Bartone said there were better alternatives to sending evacuees to Christmas Island, with some medical specialists suggesting the Woodside army barracks near Adelaide and another facility just north of Katherine in the NT.
Within Australia, there are nine confirmed cases of people with the deadly disease.
There are four people in NSW, three in Victoria and two in Queensland.
Two Australians in China’s Wuhan province have also been diagnosed.
Chinese residents wear masks while waiting at a bus station near the closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which has been linked to the outbreak that started in December
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA
NEW SOUTH WALES: 4
- Three men aged 43, 53, and 35 who had recently travelled to China are confirmed to have contracted the disease.
- Two flew in from Wuhan while the other arrived in Sydney from Shenzhen, south China.
- They are being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital and are in stable condition.
- A 21-year-old woman is identified as the fourth person to test positive for the illness in NSW.
- The woman, a student at UNSW, flew into Sydney International Airport on flight MU749 on January 23 and presented to the emergency department 24 hours later after developing flu-like symptoms.
- She is being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital.
- A Chinese national aged in his 50s becomes the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Australia.
- The man flew to Melbourne on China Southern flight CZ321 from Wuhan via Guangzhou on January 19.
- He is now in quarantined isolation at Monash Hospital in Clayton in Melbourne’s east.
- A Victorian man in his 60s is diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- He became unwell on January 23 – two days after returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
- The man was confirmed as positive on January 29 and was subsequently seen by doctors at the Monash Medical Centre. He was assessed as being well enough to stay at home.
- A woman in her 40s is found to have coronavirus.
- She was visiting from China and mostly spent time with her family.
- She is being treated at Royal Melbourne Hospital.
- Queensland confirms its first case after a 44-year-old Chinese national wass diagnosed with the virus.
- He is being treated at Gold Coast University Hospital.
- A 42-year-old Chinese woman who was travelling in the same Wuhan tour group as the 44-year-old man tests positive. She is in Gold Coast University Hospital in stable condition.
- Two Australians have been confirmed as having the virus in Wuhan itself. Australia has raised the travel alert level to ‘do not travel’ for the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – and for the entire Hubei province.
- Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says unless people have contact with someone who is unwell and has come from that part of China, there is no need for current concern.