Australian evacuees from China test negative for the virus, but face 14-day quarantine

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON: A total of 239 Australians from the Chinese city of Wuhan have been freed from the disease, and two others face only a minimal chance of having the virus, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Tuesday.

The 241 evacuees, who arrived on Tuesday on Christmas Island in Australia, off the northwest coast of Australia, will remain in quarantine for 14 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus.

They advise me that all travelers have been examined and there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus, Hunt said in Canberra.

Fourteen were examined more closely to make sure they were in an acceptable condition and now all have been removed from the virus. Two others are being tested as a precaution.

Australia has requested permission for a second evacuation flight from Wuhan in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus that has been locked up. There were 600 registered in Hubei last week.

An evacuation flight chartered by Air New Zealand Ltd is scheduled to leave Wuhan late Tuesday, with 70 New Zealanders and 50 Australian citizens and permanent residents on board. Australians will be transferred from Auckland to Christmas Island.

The newly identified coronoavirus that first appeared in Wuhan in December has killed 425 people in China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

The total number of infections in China increased by 3,235 to 20,438 on Tuesday, and there were at least 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions.

Australia followed the United States on Saturday by banning entry to all foreign citizens traveling from mainland China and raised its travel warning to China to the highest level, advising people not to visit the country.

The measure has left many Chinese students in Australian universities unable to enter the country just when the university year is about to begin. Many Australian universities depend financially on Chinese students.

We are very concerned about the interests of Chinese students who will not be able to come to Australia, the Chinese Embassy Charge d'affaires Wang Xining told reporters in Canberra.

We are in contact with universities and also with the ministry of education to find a suitable solution for these students.