Aussies In Wuhan Concerned About Christmas Island Evacuation Plan
Australians in Wuhan say they're unsure about the government's plan to evacuate them, with some questioning if they're better off staying put.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced plans to medically evacuate up to 600 Australian citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan and place them in quarantine in the detention centre on Christmas Island, 2600 kilometres northwest of Perth.
The plan to pull Aussies out from the coronavirus epicentre remains fuzzy, with questions raised over logistics.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton defended the plan, saying the centre was equipped for such quarantine purposes, and that people would be held inside "until we get medical clearance for them to come out".
But concerns have been raised by Australians in China over whether they should take up the offer or remain in Wuhan.
Sydney man Drew Loo, 19, moved to Shanghai for university and recently travelled to Wuhan to visit family.
He said he was "considering" the evacuation offer, but said he felt safe and comfortable in an apartment in the city.
"It’s actually extremely safe at home in Wuhan. If I don’t go out, I won’t get sick," he told 10 daily.
"We have food and we have water and everything, no panic or anything. We don’t even have to leave the house. We've had fresh food sent to our door."
Loo said he is an Australian citizen, but claimed he hadn't been contacted by the Australian government yet with the details of the evacuation plan.
He is worried Wuhan will remain locked down, and that he won't be able to get back to university in Shanghai, so is considering taking the Christmas Island offer to travel back to China via Australia.
"I think it’s a safe way to evacuate Wuhan. My only concern is the risk of getting sick on the plane," he said.
"I just hope Christmas Island has good enough safety precautions that isolate each of us so that we don't get sick from other people.
"To be honest I wouldn't mind just staying in Wuhan either."
Seven people currently have the virus after returning to Australia from Hubei province -- four in NSW, two in Victoria and one in Queensland. All are stable and being treated in hospital.
China's women's soccer team is in isolation at a Brisbane hotel after arriving on Wednesday, after recently spending time in Wuhan.
Another Aussie in Wuhan said his mother is terrified of him being quarantined on Christmas Island.
Daniel Ou Yang, 21, is visiting family in China. He wants to return to Sydney but said he's concerned about voluntarily going to Christmas Island.
"Will I be treated as an Australian or as a detainee? I am in their hands and can only hope it will go smoothly," Yang told AAP.
"I know we would be kept in the detention centre and the treatment of detainees is not the best."
10 daily has contacted Daniel Ou Yang for comment.
He likened the atmosphere in Wuhan to Sydney during the worst of the recent bushfires but acknowledged there was fear in town.
He said there was "hysteria at the hospital and some of the shops" in China, but that locals were staying strong.
"Outside my apartment window two nights ago there were people singing in the street together," he said.
"We are very strong. We are united."
Sam Liu is a Chinese citizen but has been living in Australia on a student visa for several years.
Just days after he returned to visit his hometown of Wuhan for the first time in years, the city was locked down. He said he doesn't think he'll be eligible for the Australian government evacuation and is unsure when he will be able to return to Sydney to keep studying.
"I won't go back to Australia until I know I'm 100 percent sure I am ok," he told 10 daily.
"That's the right thing to do."
The Sydney Morning Herald reported evacuated Australians would have to pay $1000 for their flight to Christmas Island, and then will have to find their own way home from Perth once they are medically cleared.
This has not yet been confirmed by the government, but Dutton earlier said Australians would have to pay for their flight from China back to Australia.
"That's, as I'm advised by [the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] the normal way in which these things occur and that will be the limit of the contribution," he said.