Australia

Australians from coronavirus-hit cruise ship arrive in Darwin ahead of 14-day quarantine

An evacuation flight for Australians stuck on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan has landed in Darwin. Source: Australian Pool Footage

An evacuation flight for nearly 200 Australians stuck on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan has landed in Darwin.

A large group of Australians quarantined on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan for two weeks are back on home soil after arriving in Darwin on a special Qantas flight.

Some 180 citizens and permanent residents had taken up the federal government's offer of a seat on the evacuation flight, which left Haneda Airport near Yokohama in the early hours of Thursday morning.

But 10 were told they could not leave because they had tested positive to the deadly disease, known as COVID-19, meaning only 170 could board the flight.

Another 15 had already chosen to stay behind in Japan to be near family members who have been hospitalised after contracting the virus.

The Qantas Boeing 747 jet landed in Darwin at 9.41am AEDT.

Upon landing, the government said the Australians would be screened for symptoms of the virus five times before being taken to a facility at Howard Springs, 30km south-east of Darwin.

The evacuees have already spent more than two weeks quarantined on Diamond Princess in Yokohama port and will now face another 14-day isolation period at the former Inpex workers camp.

The number of cases on the ship has reached 542, including 36 Australians.

They are being treated in hospital in Japan.

Australia's deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said while the ship's quarantine methods had worked to protect the rest of Japan, the recent spike in cases could come down to crew falling ill.

"It just demonstrates the infectiousness of this particular virus and how it can spread very easily in a closed setting like a cruise ship," he said in Sydney.

The cruise ship evacuees will be kept separate from hundreds of people already in isolation at the facility, who were evacuated from the Chinese epicentre of the virus at Wuhan.

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That group are "due to go home in a few days, all things going well", Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, all of the evacuees on Christmas Island have now left the detention-centre turned-quarantine-facility.

None have tested positive for the coronavirus.

There have been 15 cases of the virus in Australia, with eight people now recovered and the rest in a stable condition.

There are now more than 75,000 cases worldwide, with 2009 reported deaths.

 

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Australians disembark the Diamond Princess
Australians disembark the Diamond Princess

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