Qantas Flight Carrying Australians Fleeing Coronavirus Departs Wuhan, Headed For WA
The Qantas plane that will bring home hundreds of Australians stranded in the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak has departed from Wuhan, headed for Western Australia.
The airline's CEO Alan Joyce says the volunteer crew on board the Boeing 747 that will fly stranded Australians out of the Chinese city are ready "to get this done".
Some 243 Australian residents, including five infants younger than two-years-old, have chosen to evacuate Wuhan, 10 News First reporter Natalie Forrest confirmed.
They will be flown from Wuhan to Exmouth on the north coast of WA, before being taken to Christmas Island where they will be quarantined for two weeks.
The Qantas plane is also carrying four pilots and 14 cabin crew.
It departed the Hubei province capital just after 11am AEST and is scheduled to arrive at the RAAF Base Learmonth, near Exmouth in northern Western Australia, about 3.30pm WST (6.30pm AEDT) on Monday.
"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," CEO Alan Joyce said.
"We put in a whole series of protections for these volunteers to make sure that they are protected. The flight is on the ground in Wuhan at the moment."
Health checks will be conducted before passengers can board the plane, and they will also be made to wear surgical masks.
Food and beverages will be kept to a minimum in order to minimize interaction between crew and passengers. The plane with by thoroughly cleaned on arrival, according to the Qantas boss.
Joyce also said the crew will also wear masks and gloves, will be armed with sanitisers and will be placed on the upper deck of the aircraft.
He added that the volunteer crew is simply there for safety reasons, such as ensuring the doors are armed before takeoff.
"In-flight, there is water left on the seats. The crew go back to the upper deck, which is sealed," Joyce explained.
There are now more than 14,000 cases of the virus globally, and more than 300 deaths.
On Saturday the Federal Government declared foreign travellers who left or passed through China will be denied entry to Australia.
However, Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families, dependents, legal guardians and spouses, are exempt from the strict measures.
More to come.