Assisted departure and strict quarantine for Australians from Wuhan/Hubei

Joint media release

  • The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister
  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women
  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health
  • Professor Brendan Murphy, Chief Medical Officer
29 January 2020

The Australian Government is working across agencies to assist the departure of isolated and vulnerable Australians from Wuhan and to put strict quarantine arrangements in place.

Australian diplomatic and consular staff have been working very closely with the Chinese authorities and with other partner countries to develop options for the departure of Australians in Wuhan and Hubei Province, in what continues to be a difficult and complex situation.

The Australian Embassy in Beijing is now seeking formal approval from the Chinese Government to send a plane to Wuhan to assist the departure of Australians from Hubei Province.

We thank the Chinese Government for the cooperative way they have dealt with Australian counterparts and those of other countries who have citizens in Wuhan and Hubei province.

Australians departing on any flight arranged by the Australian Government will be flown to Christmas Island to undertake a period of quarantine of up to 14 days based on  current medical advice, as a condition of their assisted departure.

They will also be required to commit to  making a contribution to the cost, consistent with normal arrangements in these circumstances.

This will ensure we are also prioritising public health in Australia.

A consular team is positioned to support an assisted departure. A temporary Consular office is being set up in Wuhan to work with local authorities to help give effect to this plan. We do not have a permanent consular presence in Wuhan.

An Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) will provide medical support and expert advice to returning Australians upon arrival at Christmas Island.

There are just over 600 Australian citizens currently registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We will seek to speak with each of them in relation to the Government’s announcement. Our focus and priority is on vulnerable and isolated citizens.

We are endeavouring to make further contact with those people who have provided us their details. Contact can be difficult due to high demand on phone lines in China. We request that those who have registered their details contact DFAT again if they have not spoken to Australian consular officials in the past 24 hours. The DFAT emergency number is +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 if you are calling from Australia on behalf of a family member.

We also thank Qantas, which has offered to support Australians out of Wuhan if the authority to proceed is provided.

We understand this is a very stressful time for those impacted. We encourage people to make contact with family and friends, stay in touch with travel providers and contact your insurers. Australians should continue to follow all health precautions which are available on the Smart Traveller website - www.smartraveller.gov.au.

We advise that Australians do not travel to Hubei Province and reconsider their need to travel to China overall.

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