Australian citizens evacuated from Chinese city Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, have landed in Western Australia's north before being quarantined on Christmas Island.
A Qantas flight carrying more than 240 Australians landed at the RAAF Base Learmonth, near Exmouth, just after 4pm local time on Monday.
They are set to be transported by smaller military aircraft to Christmas Island, where they will remain for at least 14 days.
It's anticipated the passengers could be accommodated overnight in Exmouth after their departure was delayed by about six hours.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said it would likely take considerable time for the passengers to be assessed once they landed at Learmonth.
"My understanding is the federal government is anticipating that scenario and they have the appropriate accommodation for those patients on the ground," he told reporters in Perth.
WA authorities have made contingency plans to immediately transport any unwell passengers to hospitals in Perth if needed.
Of the 243 passengers, five are under two years old while 89 are younger than 16.
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the plan was for passengers to be isolated in small family groups on Christmas Island.
"There won't be a full mingling," he said in Canberra.
"If someone does get unwell their family might have to start again for 14 days but we wouldn't want to expose the whole group to that."
Foreign Minister Marise Paynesaid the government would "consider what might be necessary" when asked if a second flight would be organised from Australia to Wuhan.
Earlier, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce paid tribute to the crew of four pilots and 14 cabin staff who volunteered for the mission.
"I spoke to the crew last night and through FaceTime video and they were all very keen to get this done and get the Aussies out," he said.
Passengers underwent health checks before boarding the flight and were set to wear surgical masks.
There was a limited food and beverage service to minimise interaction between crew and passengers and the plane will now undergo a three-day cleaning process.
The crew had masks, gloves, and sanitisers and were placed on the upper deck of the aircraft.
The plane has medical-grade filters that remove particles in the air, including viruses.
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.
Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families, dependents, legal guardians and spouses, are exempt from the restrictions.
Some 71 travellers to Australia were not allowed to board their plane in China overnight and 12 flights were cancelled on Sunday.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the government's protective measures were effective.
"Many people now coming from mainland China, who have been in China as at the first of February, are deciding not to travel," he told reporters in Canberra.
"That's been because of the edict issued by the border force commissioner that people shouldn't be uploaded onto flights."
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said thousands of tourists would also be affected by the virus, with the sector expected to take an $11 billion hit, but public health must come first.
"This is our largest tourism market, our largest international education market, our largest trading partner so, of course, it is a significant and severe impact," he said.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-evacuation-flight-arrives-in-western-australia/fc7f8efe-9a14-4067-ba51-4271461e16c7