Australians Set to Leave on Second Flight From Wuhan to Be Quarantined in Northern Territory

February 7, 2020 Updated: February 7, 2020
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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday that its evacuees on a second Qantas-assisted evacuation flight out of the coronavirus-hit Wuhan will be quarantined at a disused construction workers village in the Northern Territory.

Morrison told reporters in Townsville that the government is in consultation with the local community to finalize arrangements.

The quarantine location, the Manigurr-ma worker accommodation village at Howard Springs, was built in 2012 by Japanese energy firm Inpex to house some 3,500 of its workers. They were employed to construct Inpex’s A$55 billion ($40 billion) Ichthys gas plant on Darwin Harbour, AAP reported. The location was handed to the Northern Territory government on low rent in May 2019.

Morrison explained that the Christmas Island location currently used to accommodate Wuhan evacuees is no longer able to take more people for quarantine.

“The configuration and the composition of the accommodation at the Phosphate Hill and construction camp sites does not suit the purposes of quarantine because of the inability to properly segregate and manage the population in that facility,” he said.

“It is simply a configuration issue.”

Morrison also urged Australian citizens, residents, and their immediate family who are in China—including those located outside of Hubei province—to seize the opportunity to evacuate via the commercial flights still available coming out of mainland China, adding that the Australian government can’t guarantee further assisted departure arrangements.

The flight is scheduled to leave Wuhan overnight, according to The Guardian.

About 280 Australians are currently quarantined on Christmas Island after being evacuated from Wuhan.

As of Friday, 15 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia: 5 in Queensland, 4 in New South Wales, 4 in Victoria, and 2 in South Australia, according to the Australian Department of Health.

Two deaths from coronavirus have been reported outside mainland China—one in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong.

Australian health authorities are testing another 165 people who have shown symptoms of the virus.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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