Coronavirus evacuees Qantas plane to land in Darwin

A Qantas plane loaded with hundreds of Australians evacuated from the Chinese province which is the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic is expected to arrive in Darwin on Monday morning.

The airline on Friday night sent a crew to Hong Kong. They will then continue to Wuhan on Sunday to pick up the passengers. Up to 600 Australians are believed to be in the province.

The plane is expected to arrive in Darwin at 2.30am Monday.

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This comes after Scott Morrison announced the government’s plan to take evacuees from Wuhan to Christmas Island where they would be detained for 14 days.

It has also been revealed that it only takes 15 minutes for the deadly coronavirus to pass from one person to another – as a ninth person has been diagnosed in Australia.

According to NSW Health advice, people are now at risk of catching the virus if they spend a quarter of an hour in close contact, such as a face-to-face conversation, or two hours in the same confined space with an infected person.

And now Chinese health authorities have confirmed that, contrary to earlier belief, patients are contagious even before they develop symptoms.

This means that potentially thousands of people could have been exposed to the coronavirus in Australia by the country’s nine confirmed patients alone.

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Four people in Sydney, three in Melbourne and two on the Gold Coast have contracted the deadly virus in recent weeks.

The latest woman was a member of a tour group travelling with the 44-year-old man confirmed to have the virus in Queensland Thursday.

Passengers on a Tiger Air flight on Monday are being contacted by government health officials over fears they may have contracted the virus.

Two Chinese nationals now confirmed to be infected with the virus were on-board Tiger Air flight TT566 from Melbourne to the Gold Coast.

They were part of a tour group who had come from the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Queensland Health confirmed the state’s second case of coronavirus infection late on Thursday as a 42-year-old woman.

The government is now attempting to make contact with the 171 passengers aboard Monday evening’s flight.

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