Coronavirus

Almost 200 Australians arrive in Sydney after being locked down in Cambodia

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A group of 164 Australians and 20 permanent residents and family members have arrived in Sydney after being evacuated from Cambodia.

Almost 200 Australians extracted from Cambodia amid the coronavirus pandemic have touched down in Sydney after a specially-organised flight from Phnom Penh.

The Singapore Airlines flight touched down on Monday after 6am, with the 164 Australian citizens and 20 permanent residents and family members on board set for 14 days of mandatory self-isolation in a Sydney hotel.

The flight left Phnom Penh on Sunday night, stopping over in Singapore.

The Australian embassy in Cambodia said 164 Australian citizens, plus 20 permanent residents and family members boarded the flight as regular commercial options "were drying up fast".

"We decided to facilitate this one-off non-scheduled flight to a transit country which then connected to a scheduled flight on the same plane to Sydney," the embassy said.

"Passengers paid for economy and business seats."

The passengers were met by a heavy police and military presence at Sydney Airport and transported by bus directly to their hotel.

Cambodia has been criticised for its slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, however attitudes have hardened recently and Prime Minister Hun Sen early on Tuesday cancelled next weeks's annual Khmer New Year celebrations.

About 122 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed to date in Cambodia.

Heavy travel restrictions were also imposed between provinces earlier in the week which added a sense of urgency for the flight, with Australians living in the countryside told to make a speedy trip to the capital to avoid being locked out of the airport.

The embassy said it took "a lot of work to make this happen" in "challenging circumstances" adding this would also help relieve pressure on Cambodia's healthcare system, which Australia continues to support through its aid program.

"Great to have been able to help Aussies re-connect with loved ones back home through this flight," ambassador Pablo Kang wrote on Twitter.

"We thank all involved, including the government, for their assistance, and our passengers for their patience and understanding."

All on board are expected to go immediately into isolation upon arrival in Sydney. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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