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Cruise ship evacuees arrive in Darwin after 10 denied passage

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Qantas Boeing 747 jet has landed in Darwin, where passengers will be again screened for coronavirus before beginning a second two-week quarantine.

Hundreds of Australians quarantined on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship off Japan have arrived in Darwin on a specially chartered Qantas flight to begin their second two-week quarantine.

The Qantas Boeing 747 jet landed in Darwin at 9.41am (AEDT). Those on board will be screened for symptoms of the virus five times before being taken to a facility at Howard Springs, 30km south-east of Darwin.


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

Sixteen-year-old Kaitlin Na Tan was among the ten Australians blocked from boarding the flight at the last moment, after she returned a positive test result for coronavirus.

"We were pushing our bags out when the call came with our test results from Monday's sampling. Kaitlyn has tested positive," her mother Aun Na Tan posted on social media.

"We will not be taking the flight tonight. Our family will stay together."

The Melbourne mum then shared a second post revealing further details of their situation, on what is the 15th day in quarantine for the family.

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"Our test results all came back negative except for Kaitlyn's which was positive," Ms Tan said.

As a minor, one adult needed to remain behind with Kaitlyn while the other adult was free to get on the flight with sibling Xander. Despite that, they decided to stick it out as a family.

"We decided not to be separated. They are trying to find a hospital which will take all four of us," the mother said.


"Kaitlyn will need to be isolated as she is positive. The rest of us needs to start quarantine again in the hospital to ensure we didn't get anything from Kaitlyn."

Ms Tan revealed the news hit her and Kaitlyn hard but "the boys were calmer".

"It wasn't a pretty sight for me and Kaitlyn… We have bounced back now. Kaitlyn much quicker than myself - to our merry selves," she said.

"Kaitlyn is healthy. We are all healthy - we will get through this and be back home soon."

There were 79 new cases diagnosed yesterday, bringing the total number of people to contract coronavirus while on board to 622. Of these, 36 are Australians.

Those who have tested positive are in hospital or in isolated rooms at local hotels, awaiting hospital spaces as the Japanese Health System struggles to keep up.

There were 500 people allowed to disembark the Diamond Princess and were free to go around Japan with thousands more to do same over next two days.

Passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship board an airplane at Haneda airport in Tokyo Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020.

Stringent medical procedures were put in place to protect Qantas staff and medical crews on board the specially arranged flight to Darwin, with staff boarding the 747 aircraft first while medical assistance teams manned the stairs to the plane.

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Passengers' temperatures were tested again before they made their way up the stairs in small groups.

After a dozen or so boarded, the medical teams - in full hazmat gear - wiped down the stairs' handrail with disinfectant before letting another group on-board. Some elderly passengers struggled to walk up the stairs and were helped by family members.

Meals were placed on the seats, ready for the passengers, and during the flight Qantas staff will sit upstairs and will have no contact with passengers.

Source: 9News

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