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Kevin Rudd slams decision to send Wuhan evacuees to Christmas Island

Kevin Rudd has slammed Peter Dutton’s decision to send Wuhan evacuees to Christmas Island, suggesting the home affairs minister would have treated them differently if they were ‘white’.

The former prime minister criticised the government’s treatment of coronavirus evacuees in a scathing attack on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing.  

Mr Rudd weighed in on the issue as hundreds of Australians remain quarantined on the island – historically used as an immigration detention centre. 

He admitted to being wary of policies proposed by Mr Dutton, who he said had a ‘long history’ of dealing with race-related issues with ‘less than appropriate sensitivity’.

Kevin Rudd has slammed Peter Dutton’s decision to send Wuhan evacuees to Christmas Island, suggesting the home affairs minister would have treated them differently if they were ‘white’

‘I supposed the question I’d like to hear Mr Dutton answer, is simply this: If the dual-nationals we were rescuing from this virus happened to be Brits or happened to be Americans, would he be so quick to lodge them on Christmas Island and to mining camps outside of Darwin? I don’t think so,’ he said. 

‘The bottom line is you could secure quarantine facilities in a range of other places closer to civilisation in Australia, so I’m always concerned when Mr Dutton puts his hands to these questions.’ 

Mr Rudd said if he were still prime minister he would happily comply with the advice of health authorities, but questioned whether the government had been presented with other options.

‘I would love to see publicly released the menu of options handed to Mr Dutton from the medical authorities outlining where these folks could’ve been quarantined.

‘I would like to see the menu of options and why Mr Dutton chose these two particular options, and what he would have done had we been dealing with white people with a virus as well. 

‘I’ll leave that and I look forward to his answer at some stage.’

Australian nationals who were among the Wuhan evacuees walk inside the Australian Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island, last week

Australian nationals who were among the Wuhan evacuees walk inside the Australian Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island, last week 

Mr Rudd said he would like to see the options that were presented to the government for quarantining evacuees and why Mr Dutton chose Christmas Island

Mr Rudd said he would like to see the options that were presented to the government for quarantining evacuees and why Mr Dutton chose Christmas Island 

Mr Rudd went on to slam the government’s alleged lack of support for China in the wake of the outbreak, despite happily taking billions of dollars in export revenue from visiting tourists. 

‘So far, we’ve seen very few expressions of genuine solidarity, sympathy and support, from the Australian government to the Chinese people because first and foremost whatever we think of China’s political ideology this is a humanitarian crisis of massive proportions.’  

Mr Rudd’s comments come after the Chinese embassy in Australia criticised the federal government’s ‘extreme’ decision to extend a coronavirus-related travel ban for another week.

From Friday, foreign nationals who have been in mainland China will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they left.

‘We did not take this decision lightly,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

‘We are very mindful of the disruption and economic impacts of these arrangements, but I note Australia is one of 58 countries that has introduced some form of travel restrictions.’

But the Chinese embassy said the ban should be lifted, saying the World Health Organisation didn’t recommend travel or trade restrictions on China.

‘We express our deep regret and dissatisfaction over the Australian government’s announcement,’ a spokesman said in a statement.

‘Only Australia and a small number of countries have taken such extreme measures which are an overreaction indeed.’

Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members, but they must self-isolate for 14 days from the time they left mainland China.

The restrictions will be reviewed in one week.

Mr Rudd weighed in on the issue as hundreds of Australians remain quarantined on the island - historically used as an immigration detention centre

Mr Rudd weighed in on the issue as hundreds of Australians remain quarantined on the island – historically used as an immigration detention centre

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the key concern was the spread of the virus, officially known as COVID-19, across China.

There are now more than 60,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of them in the province of Hubei where it was first detected, and 1357 people have died.

More than 240 deaths were reported on Wednesday alone, the highest number of fatalities on a single day since the virus was first reported in December.

Of the 15 cases in Australia, six have been cleared and the remaining nine are all stable.

No quarantined Australians at Christmas Island and Darwin have tested positive for the virus, with the first group of evacuees due to return home on Monday.

Universities are contacting their Chinese students to ensure they understand how the extension of travel restrictions affect them and to provide support.

Work is underway on extending existing domestic tourism campaigns to help businesses impacted by the downturn in foreign visitors.

An Australian public health expert is being sent to Japan to look at the handling of the cruise ship Diamond Princess’ quarantine process and provide advice to the government.

More than 200 Australians are passengers on the ship, with 11 of them testing positive for the virus.

AUSTRALIANS WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

NEW SOUTH WALES: 4 

January 25

  • 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.

January 27 

  • 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.

VICTORIA: 4

January 25

  • 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.

January 29

  • 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.

January 30

  • 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.          

February 1

  • A woman in her 20s in Melbourne is found to have the virus

 QUEENSLAND: 5

January 29

  • 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.

January 30

  • 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.  

February 4

  • An eight-year-old boy has been diagnosed coronavirus. He is also from the tour group where the other Queensland cases came from    

February 5  

  • The case was found in a 37-year-old man, who was a member of a group of nine Chinese tourists in quarantine on the Gold Coast

February 6

  • A 37-year-old woman has been diagnosed with coronavirus from the same travel group that flew to Queensland from Melbourne on January 27

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: 2

February 1

  • A Chinese couple in their 60s who arrived in Adelaide from Wuhan to visit relatives are confirmed to have coronavirus.

CHINA: 2

January 30

  • 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. 

JAPAN: 4   

February 10 

  • Four Australians are among 65 newly-confirmed coronavirus cases aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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