Qantas: Wuhan evacuees to Christmas Island quarantine
Wuhan is the epicentre of the Chinese outbreak of Caronavirus that has 6000 confirmed cases, with 132 deaths as of now. Those figures are sure to change upward by the time you read this.
To quote the Sydney Morning Herald:
Cabinet’s national security committee signed off on an unprecedented evacuation plan on Wednesday morning to transfer Australian citizens from China’s Hubei province to the immigration detention centre in the middle of the Indian Ocean.SMH, 29/1/20
Staff from the consul in Shanghai are currently on their way to the locked down city of Wuhan and the Hubei province.
Qantas is to provide the plane and crew, to transport the approximate 600 Australians registered with the Australian embassy who currently reside in the Hubei province surrounding Wuhan in China.
Australians will be evacuated to the Christmas Island former immigration detention centre that is to be rapidly turned into a Quarantine station.
Australia’s Morrison government has been criticised by its own citizens for their slowness in proposing and organising such an evacuation, with other nationals already removed by their governments, including the USA, who have evacuated consular staff from Wuhan.
The operation targetting ‘isolated and vulnerable Australians’ has no certainty of actually going ahead. Opportunities for the evacuation are limited, so the plan may not be executed.
Upgraded Advice for those travelling to China
The Department of Foreign Affairs has upgraded its travel advice for the whole of China as of Wednesday morning. It now recommends Australians reconsider their need for travel to China.
In response to a plea from the College of General Practice, amongst others, the federal government has released 1 million masks from the national stockpile for delivery to pharmacists.
Well, if all 600 are evacuated, they are going to need more than one plane. Qantas’s A380’s only seats 484/5 depending on the configuration. All their other aircraft seat less: 747-400 = 364 and 787-9 = 236.
So I imagine their plans involve potentially more than one flight. even though they are giving priority to Australians who lack support in Hubei, or who are shorter-term travellers to the area.
Sending Australians to a former immigration detention centre, however convenient for the government, comes with the risk of traumatising, or indeed re-traumatising some of the evacuees.