Jan 29, 2020 - Science

Australia to quarantine coronavirus evacuees on Christmas Island

Detainees walk inside the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) compound February 25, 2012 on Christmas Island, Australia.
Detainees walk inside the now-closed Immigration Detention Center compound on Christmas Island in February 2012. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a news conference Wednesday the country's national airline Qantas would evacuate "isolated and vulnerable" Australians at risk from coronavirus in China and quarantine them on Christmas Island.

The big picture: Authorities would prioritize evacuating children and elderly people in the virus-hit city of Wuhan to the island, an Australian territory some 870 miles from Indonesia notorious for its now-closed refugee detention center. Citizens would also be evacuated from China's Hubei province, Morrison said. It's a joint evacuation with New Zealand, which has about 50 affected citizens. Australia has 600.

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