Qantas will reportedly be sending a crew to Hong Kong tonight in the first step of the plan to evacuate Australians from Wuhan, China.
The plane is expected to stop in Hong Kong before continuing on to Wuhan on Sunday, according to Nine News.
Up to 600 people are expected to be evacuated from the city, with the flight expected to arrive in Darwin at 2.30am on Monday.
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.
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 yesterday.
Passengers on a Tiger Air flight on Monday are being contacted by the State Government 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.
The state’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has slammed the handling of the outbreak at a federal level, saying she is frustrated at the lack of information coming from the government.
“I’m trying my hardest here, but we need a national effort to deal with this issue right now,” she told Sunrise this morning.
Victoria’s health department is gathering information on possible coronavirus public exposure sites after a third case surfaced.
A Chinese woman in her 40s has been confirmed as the third Victorian case of the deadly virus on Thursday evening.
The woman has been isolated in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, with eight other people awaiting results of their coronavirus tests in Victoria.
The visitor from Hubei province is in a stable condition and two close contacts are being monitored for symptoms.
NSW Health has so far tested 50 people that have returned negative results, and 20 more are under investigation. In Queensland 44 people are being tested.
Each one flew in from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, on planes packed with hundreds of people sharing the same confined space.
At least a day passed after they arrived before they developed flu-like symptoms and went to hospital.
Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government Professor Brendan Murphy told reporters this morning there is “no suggestion of human-to-human transmission in the Australian community” so far.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters the first two people infected, in NSW, have been released and declared post viral.
He added that “significant” medical equipment and pre-deployment teams will arrive on Christmas Island — where up to 600 Australians trapped in the virus epicentre are expected to be quarantined — today.
The latest cases also come after two Australians in China have been infected with coronavirus, Mr Hunt confirmed.
The good news is that doctors trying to determine how the virus is spreading say it’s not as infectious as measles, but it can be passed on in several ways.
Researchers are looking to other coronavirus outbreaks such as SARS and MERS to determine how this new outbreak is spreading.
So far it is believed to be spread by a droplet in a cough or a sneeze, similar to how influenza is passed on.
Infectious diseases physician Sanjaya Senanayake told AAP droplets settle about one metre away, unlike airborne viruses that are more worrying because they can travel further distances.
“Coronavirus may not be the easiest infection to get but it can be transmitted in several ways,” he said.
It could also be spread via contaminated surfaces if someone touches their nose or mouth after touching a surface that has been coughed or sneezed on by an infected person.
The number of confirmed deaths from China’s coronavirus outbreak has risen to 212 after worst-hit Hubei province reported 42 new fatalities on Friday.
The new figures came hours after the World Health Organisation declared a global emergency over the deadly pathogen, which has spread to a number of countries around the world.