Qantas plane on its way to Wuhan to rescue hundreds of stranded Australians touches down in Hong Kong as medics ready themselves for emergency operation on Christmas Island
A Qantas plane en route to Wuhan to rescue some of the 600 Australians trapped in the Chinese city plagued by coronavirus is due to touchdown in Hong Kong.
The Qantas 747 will then travel to the epicentre of deadly virus – once it receives the green light from the Chinese government – to recuse hundreds of stranded Australians.
The flight from China to Australia is expected to land in Darwin at 2.30am on Monday and evacuees will then be moved to Christmas Island on smaller flights.
Flight attendants wear protective face masks to protect themselves from Coronavirus at Brisbane International Airport
Evacuees need to pay $1,000 to be rescued from Wuhan and they will be quarantined at the detention centre for 14 days.
Medical specialists will meanwhile spend the weekend preparing quarantine facilities for the arrival of evacuees.
Experts from Australia’s disaster response team were dispatched to the island on Friday.
The World Health Organisation has declared the disease, which has killed more than 200 people in China and infected thousands, a public health emergency.
The declaration means there will be a greater focus on a global response, with WHO fearful of what could happen if the virus reaches countries ill-prepared to cope with high infection rates.
‘Australia has been acting in advance of this decision,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
‘All of the issues – isolation, case management, contract tracing, prevention of onward spread, active surveillance, early detection – Australia has been doing.’
Human coronavirus with pandemic potential is a listed human disease under Australian laws, which enables the government to use ‘enhanced border measures’ to contain outbreaks.
The virus has spread to 18 countries including Australia, which has had nine confirmed cases with more expected.
More to come