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Pregnant woman evacuated to Perth from Wuhan


Another batch of stranded Australians are preparing to be evacuated from the epicentre of the coronavirus in China to New Zealand after more than 200 citizens and residents were taken to Christmas Island overnight.

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None of the Christmas Island arrivals has so far shown any signs of having the deadly virus, but they will spend 14 days in quarantine to ensure they pose no health risk.

There have been 241 people transferred to Christmas Island.

A pregnant woman and her partner have been taken to Perth and placed in isolation as there are no maternity facilities on the island.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanked everyone involved in the complex operation.

“We are now working with the Chinese authorities on a possible second assisted departure flight for Australians seeking to leave Wuhan,” Morrison tweeted on Tuesday.

“We are also working with the New Zealand Government to access seats on their plane, subject to availability.”

A team of specialist doctors and nurses is closely monitoring the Australian evacuees, who were flown out of Wuhan in Hubei province on a Qantas flight on Monday.

They endured about 24 hours in transit, including a stop at Western Australia’s RAAF Base Learmonth, near Exmouth, before being taken on smaller aircraft to the island.

The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre is overseeing their care, and says medics on the island have reported all of the evacuees are well.

The evacuees will be kept in discreet clusters of family members, or friendship groups.

That will allow medics to effectively manage any emergence of the virus and guard against any widespread transmission among the evacuees.

Meanwhile, an unspecified number of Australians are expected to join an Air New Zealand charter flight from Wuhan to Auckland.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says the flight has stopped in Hong Kong before continuing on to Wuhan.

Chinese authorities have cleared the flight to land late on Tuesday, Wuhan time, and it may not depart until the next day.

The flight is expected to be back in Auckland late on Wednesday afternoon, New Zealand time.

While the number and nationalities of passengers is yet to be confirmed, they will obviously include New Zealanders and possibly Pacific Islanders.

But it’s still not clear what will happen to the Australians once the plane lands in Auckland. They would be expected to be put into quarantine, but they could be sent back to Australia.

There have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, and more than 17,000 cases and 360 deaths globally.

Foreign travellers who have left or passed through China will be denied entry to Australia to limit the spread of the virus.


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