[Brisbane Times] 'Potential operation' to rescue Australians stuck on cruise
Diamond Princess has been a floating quarantine site for a week and a half, with 355 passengers now diagnosed with coronavirus and taken into isolation at hospital onshore after another 70 cases were revealed on Sunday.
The ship, docked in Yokohama with 3700 passengers and crew on board, including 200 Australian citizens and residents, has the most coronavirus infections outside China.
Mr Hunt said any evacuated passengers would most likely need to go into quarantine again in Australia, noting many of them were elderly and may need major hospital facilities.
United States passengers will be quarantined again in their home country after being allowed to evacuate on Sunday night.
"It's likely, as the Americans have done, they may have to be in a quarantine situation but [there will be] more advice coming today, decisions today, announcements today," Mr Hunt said.
Christmas Island is the preferred location to send Australians from the cruise ship.
The plan will depend on capacity at the island facility, which for weeks has been housing hundreds of Australians evacuated from China's Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak.
More than 200 Australians are expected to be moved off Christmas Island on Monday, after completing their 14-day quarantine, according to a source on the island.
A second group will stay to complete their 14-day quarantine period until February 24 or thereabouts.
If there is not enough room on Christmas Island for new evacuees from the Diamond Princess, they could be sent to Darwin, according to the source close to the government.
A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs confirmed arrangements were being made to transfer people off Christmas Island once they had been medically cleared.
No quarantined Australians at Christmas Island or Darwin have tested positive for the virus.
Victorian woman Vera Koslova-Fu has been confined to her cabin with husband Sean, while her two sons, aged 18 and 21, are in another cabin down the hall.
She said people were trying to get fresh air and exercise, and that tensions on board were rising with a lack of clarity over what would happen next.
"I'm angry our government has not done anything useful," she said via text message on Sunday. "Mood on board are [sic] people are frightened of the unknown."
She said the possibility of being sent to Christmas Island was "not ideal".
"I want everyone to be [swab] tested," she said. "If I test negative then I'm happy to self-quarantine at home."
Separately, concerns have mounted that passengers infected by the coronavirus had been allowed to disembark from the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia and depart for other countries around the world after Malaysian officials confirmed that a second exam for an ill passenger returned positive.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told reporters on Sunday that an 83-year old American passenger on the Westerdam cruise liner tested positive for the coronavirus twice - once on Friday and once on Saturday - after she landed in Kuala Lumpur despite being screened earlier by Cambodian health officials.
"The results were the same. That is positive for the wife and negative for her husband," Wan Azizah told reporters at a news conference, adding that Malaysia would now bar entry for all passengers from the cruise ship, according to Reuters.with Rachael Dexter, Dana McCauley and wires
Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.
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