Life Wellbeing Free at last! First evacuees end Darwin quarantine as national infection tally rises

Free at last! First evacuees end Darwin quarantine as national infection tally rises

As 266 evacuees prepared for the Sunday exit from the Darwin camp, more quarantine cases arrived on Friday. Photo: AAP
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For 266 Australians evacuated from China’s Wuhan province the long days of anxiety, uncertainty and boredom in quarantine are over

The first group is being released following 14 days in the Howard Springs quarantine camp on Sunday, after they were evacuated earlier this month from the epicentre of the coronavirus at Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province.

One of the evacuees, Brian Leng said he was initially concerned about spending a fortnight in quarantine but was glad he made the decision to leave Wuhan.

“What they don’t tell you is the people here are really supportive and really lovely and accommodate pretty much all your needs,” he told the ABC.

“In hindsight, really happy to have made the decision to take this evacuation flight.”

Evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan are still facing several more days of quarantine at the camp.

The evacuees’ departure comes even as fears mount that the virus can take as long as 28 days, and perhaps even longer than that, before symptoms manifest themselves.

On Thursday, Chinese authorities reported that a man in Hubei had tested positive for coronavirus after what appeared to have been a 38-day incubation period with no symptoms, the Washington Post reports.

Seven cases have now been confirmed among the group of 164, who are also being kept at the facility near Darwin after leaving the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama on Thursday.

cruise ship coronavirus
Health officials patrol the Diamond Princess, scene of the world’s most intense concentration of infections. Photo: Twitter

“This reaffirms the decision we made not just to conduct an airlift (from the cruise ship) but to ensure that these people were in supervised quarantine in a separate area within the Howard Springs facility,” federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Saturday.

Two people from Victoria tested positive to the virus on Saturday and will be repatriated to their home state’s health system, while the Queensland woman will be transported to her home state on a specialised medical retrieval plane on Monday.

Two other Queensland women aged 54 and 55 who tested positive on Friday night have been flown to a Brisbane hospital for further treatment.

A 78-year-old man from Western Australia was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth on Friday, while a 24-year-old woman from South Australia has been transferred to Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The latest cases posed no risk to the Darwin community and strict public health measures remain in place.

It brings the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to 23, including 10 people who have recovered from the illness.

Health authorities have declared the coronavirus contained within the general Australian community.

As a result, some Year 11 and 12 students outside the Hubei province enrolled in Australian schools will be able to apply to get back into the country as long as they are not unwell.

The process to return to Australia comprises of 13 steps, with states and territories to have the final say on whether to let students return.

A similar relaxation of travel restrictions will be considered for university students this week, but no decision has been made yet.

– with AAP