Coronavirus: Kiwi rescue flight to Wuhan to pick up 236 people

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Feb 2020, 1:53PM
The Ministry of Health has given a coronavirus update.
The Ministry of Health has given a coronavirus update.

Coronavirus: Kiwi rescue flight to Wuhan to pick up 236 people

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 4 Feb 2020, 1:53PM

A flight extracting New Zealanders from China has landed in Hong Kong and will arrive in Wuhan tonight, the Ministry of Health says.

There are 236 people registered to travel on the flight, the majority being New Zealanders or permanent residents, Director-General of health Ashley Bloomfield says.

The exact numbers of people on the flight and their nationalities would not be known until the flight left Wuhan, he said.

After landing in New Zealand tomorrow, the travellers would be bused to a military camp in Whangaparaoa that has been set up as a quarantine facility.

The flight would also include Australian and Pacific residents.

The passengers would be assessed by a St John doctor and two paramedics to decide whether they were fit enough to travel out of Wuhan.

Authorities have said anyone suspected of having the virus will not be allowed on the flight.

There are no suspected or confirmed cases in New Zealand today, but three people are being tested in New Zealand as a precaution, Bloomfield said.

Bloomfield said the Ministry was considering whether extra support support could be given to New Zealanders who had arrived from mainland China and been asked to self-isolate for two weeks.

The death toll from the virus outbreak in China has grown to 426, with more than 75 people dying on Monday. It's now exceeded the total number of deaths from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

During the SARS outbreak of 2002-03 there were 349 deaths in mainland China and it eventually killed nearly 800 people globally.

Since the virus was detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan, it had spread to more than 20 countries, and several nations including New Zealand have instituted tough travel rules with China.

The special charter Air New Zealand flight NZ6001 passed over the top of Australia just before 6.30am, according to information on Flight Radar.

The aircraft was due to pick up a cabin crew in Hong Kong before flying to Wuhan - ground zero of the deadly coronavirus outbreak - to evacuate more than 70 New Zealanders.

A number of Australian and Pacific Island citizens stuck in the city are also among those invited to board the flight, which is expected to arrive in Auckland on Wednesday at 4.15pm.

Australian residents are joining 70 New Zealanders on the special Air New Zealand flight out of China after an evacuation co-ordinated with the New Zealand Government.

The New Zealanders will quarantined for two weeks at Whangaparaoa Military Training Facility, north of Auckland.

Air New Zealand's chief flight operations and safety officer, chief pilot Captain David Morgan, said they had five pilots and a standard 11-strong cabin crew involved in the operation.

The World Health Organisation has declared the crisis a global health emergency, and the first foreign death from the virus was confirmed in the Philippines on Sunday.