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Evacuation of Australians in Wuhan, China is now underway

Number: A006/2020

Relevant: Christmas Island

Topic: Evacuation of Australians in Wuhan, China is now underway

Date: 03 February 2020

The evacuation of Australians from Wuhan in China is now under way, with 243 Australian citizens and permanent residents in transit to the quarantine facility on Christmas Island (CI). The transfer of the whole group to CI will take some time. Further updates will be provided once the transfer process is concluded.

Question  - Is it safe for the CI community and visitors?

The Australian Government’s first priority is the health and safety of all Australians, including the CI community.

The AUSMAT, or Australian Medical Assistance Team, with its mobile hospital are in place to receive the passengers from Wuhan.

All of those repatriated from China will undertake health screening before arriving on Christmas Island, and they will be completely separated from the Christmas Island community during their period of quarantine.

Those quarantined will not be moving around the island or accessing any services – including health services – used by Christmas Island residents or visitors.

There will be no impact on services for the community.

Question -  What measures are being put in place to protect the CI community?

The intent is to have the highest levels of protection for those on CI.

The advice of health and biosecurity experts was used to ensure the facility is set up appropriately for quarantine purposes.

The infectious control measures being implemented on CI exceed all best practice clinical requirements.

Those quarantined will not be moving around the island or accessing any services used by Christmas Island residents.

Medical staff and other personnel in direct contact with evacuees will not be interacting with, or residing in, the broader community during the quarantine period. All appropriate protective equipment will be used.

Evacuees will not enter the airport terminal on arrival.

The virus, which is influenza in type, cannot be transmitted via mosquitoes.

Question -  Are the school buses being used for transport?

No vehicles used by the community will be used for their transport. All vehicles used will be appropriately sanitised afterwards.

Question - Are the evacuees going to be allowed in public places and community facilities while in quarantine?

Those quarantined will not be moving around the island or accessing any services used by Christmas Island residents.

Question - What will happen with waste brought to CI as part of this repatriation?

Aside from any effluent waste from the aircraft, which would normally be managed through the sewerage system, all other biosecurity waste will be removed from the island. 

Question - What will happen to the waste generated by the quarantine facility?

All waste from the quarantine facility will be managed by the Department of Defence in line with guidance by the Department of Health.

The intent is to ensure the highest levels of safety for the community and personnel.

Question - Will there be any impact on CI residents’ health and access to health services?

All of those repatriated from China have been health screened before arriving on Christmas Island, and they will be completely separated from the Christmas Island community during their period of quarantine.

Medical teams are on Christmas Island to provide medical support to those in quarantine if required, with no impact on health services to Christmas Island residents. 

Question - How is the CI community being kept informed?

Engagement with the Christmas Island community is an important part of these arrangements. Regular information is being distributed through Australian Government channels and stakeholders on island are being updated.

The Australian Border Force has a dedicated liaison team to support communication between Christmas Island community members and Government agencies assisting this effort.

Enquiries can be directed to ChristmasIslandEngagement@abf.gov.au 

For more information about 2019-nCoV and the Australian Government’s response, visit the Australian Government Department of Health’s website www.health.gov.au

We will continue to provide updates as the information comes to hand.