Virus evacuees reach NT quarantine camp

Hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan have arrived at a former workers camp near Darwin for quarantine.
Hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan have arrived at a former workers camp near Darwin for quarantine.

Hundreds of people evacuated from the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan in China are now in quarantine at a former workers village outside Darwin.

Several of the 266 travellers gave a thumbs up from inside buses that took them on the 30km trip from Darwin's RAAF base to the Manigurr-Ma work camp at Howard Springs for the next two weeks.

Adults and children wearing face masks and blue, protective suits were seen getting off the bus inside the village that they will not be allowed to leave for 14 days.

Those on board the evacuation flight included 77 children, 11 infants and one "less-than-able" 90-year-old man, the Australian Border Force said.

Eight on board were students from the Pacific Islands who were allowed to board the flight on humanitarian grounds.

They were subject to tests for the coronavirus before and during the six-hour Qantas flight from Wuhan and upon landing.

The new viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 37,500 people globally resulting in more than 800 deaths so far.

Evacuees were initially expected to be quarantined on Christmas Island, but that is at capacity with two flights from Wuhan already taken there.

Commonwealth medical and defence officials chose the $600 million village near Darwin, that was previously used by Inpex LNG project workers and has a cinema, tennis courts, a swimming pool and medical centre.

The quarantining of people has sparked some opposition in Howard Springs, with the village less than one kilometre from a school, the Good Shepherd Lutheran College, and at least one mother telling ABC she would pull her teenage son out of school this week.

Gerard Maley, a Country Liberal Party candidate in this year's NT election, said people should instead be housed at the former detention facility at Wickham Point where there were not residents nearby.

Howard Springs bakery owner Rod Coverdale told AAP he was not concerned: "the government wouldn't do this to us if it wasn't safe".

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy was filmed outside the Howard Springs facility saying there was "no risk whatsoever" to local residents with the virus only able to spread by contact within one metre.

The evacuees were unlikely to have the coronavirus and would be housed at least 300 metres within the facility and 500 metres from the school.

Australian Associated Press