Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has defended the government's decision to enforce another quarantine period for Australians being evacuated off the coronavirus-hit cruise ship docked in Japan.
The government yesterday confirmed more than 200 Australian on the Diamond Princess will be rescued after more than two weeks confined to their cramped dorms and flown to a Darwin miner's camp for another 14-day incubation period.
Mr Dutton said it is because the measures on board the ship were not effective.
"I know these people want to get back home to see their families as quickly as possible which is why we've made the very difficult decision to evacuate the passengers to Darwin and make sure that we can isolate these people in much better arrangements than they've had in confined spaces on the vessel," he told Today.
"It's been effective on both Christmas Island and in Darwin and we want to make sure, particularly given this is a group where older Australians, people over 70, over 80 years of age make up this cohort that we are bringing home, and we want to make sure that they're healthy and safe and that they're not spreading the virus to their families.
"It's a very difficult situation but I think the Prime Minister has made exactly the right call."
The decision comes after a further 99 new infections of coronavirus were confirmed on board including two Australians who will not be allowed to return home.
Australia's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said precautions had to be taken.
"Given there has been recent cases, we cannot be absolutely sure that any of the currently-well people on the ship who are coming home on Wednesday are not carrying the virus," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison sympathised with the Australians stuck on the ship, saying he understood they would be frustrated at the thought of another two weeks in quarantine.
"It's frustrating and it's unfortunate, but it is absolutely necessary to ensure that we put the measures in place that have been so effective in containing the spread of this virus," he said.
The Australians on board must pass a coronavirus test before they can be brought home, and elderly people will be given priority in the evacuation.
Wednesday's flight will also include New Zealanders, who will be transferred home after landing in Darwin.
Aussies quarantined on Christmas Island return home
Most of the Australians quarantined on Christmas Island because of the coronavirus scare will finally wake up in the comfort of their own homes, as about 200 others stranded on a cruise ship prepare to evacuate.
The bulk of people quarantined on Christmas Island flew home on Monday after clearing the 14-day isolation period with no signs of the deadly virus.
Melissa Wang, disembarking in Sydney, said she was "feeling so exhausted it's kind of just a relief".
She said her experience on the island was "really positive" and she was "very surprised by the care of all the teams".
"I was expecting a detention centre, and that's what it was, but did not expect the warmth of the people," Ms Wang told AAP.
In Perth, 10-year-old Elizabeth Taylor told reporters she enjoyed "running around, being free (and) seeing all the crabs" but said there were daily health checks too.
Elizabeth said she mostly played sport, including tennis, and did not have to do schoolwork.
About 35 people remain on the island for another flight on Wednesday.
None of the people will be required to take further tests after they get home, as they were cleared just before they left the island.
There have been 15 cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with eight people now recovered and the rest in a stable condition.
There are now more than 69,200 cases worldwide, with 1670 reported deaths.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-quarantined-christmas-island-evacuees-arrive-back-in-australia/cdbc3b0f-4ac8-48cc-beac-4eb967510539