'Life-threatening': Coronavirus evacuees left 'feeling sick' over Christmas Island conditions

·Associate News Editor
·3-min read

As more than 200 Australian evacuees from the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus spent their first night on Christmas Island, questions have been raised by some of its quarantined residents over the ‘sickening’ living conditions.

Belinda Chen, who has been housed in the island’s detention centre alongside two of her sons following their arrival from Wuhan, said their bedroom is littered with bugs and she is concerned about the level of hygiene.

“I felt sick when I walked into the bathroom, there were bugs and flies everywhere,” she told the ABC.

An official instructs Australians in a communal kitchen area within the centre. Source: 7News
An official instructs Australians in a communal kitchen area within the centre. Source: 7News

“The hygiene issues make it worse than a prison... It’s thousands of times worse than I imagined.”

Another Australian inside the centre went as far as to say the conditions were “life-threatening” and they believed those quarantined would have fared better if they’d remained in China.

The 241 people transferred to the remote outpost will spend 14 days in quarantine to ensure they pose no health risk.

A team of specialist doctors and nurses is closely monitoring the Australian evacuees with none so far showing any signs of the potentially deadly virus.

Others inside the centre have told the ABC while there is a lack of facilities and conditions are basic, they are “acceptable”.

Some inside the centre said they have been separated from main areas, while some families must share bathrooms and play equipment with others.

Wifi is only available at the centre’s office, another person housed inside the centre said.

A white van drives inside the detention centre on Tuesday. Source: AAP
A white van drives inside the detention centre on Tuesday. Source: AAP
A seated area with telephones on the wall inside the centre. Source: AAP, file.
A seated area with telephones on the wall inside the centre. Source: AAP, file.

According to the ABC, there are 84 children housed in the facility.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton previously defended the decision to move the Australians to the island, saying there was no other suitable facility to house them in the country.

"I can't clear a hospital in Sydney or Melbourne to accommodate 600 people,” he said.

A pregnant woman and her partner were instead taken to Perth and placed in isolation as there are no maternity facilities on the island.

A further 50 Australians who boarded an Air New Zealand flight in Wuhan are expected to make their way to Christmas Island.

On Tuesday, an eight-year-old Queensland boy was confirmed as the thirteenth person in Australia and the first child to contract the virus.

He is one of more than 20,600 across the world confirmed to have the virus, which has so far killed 426 people, all but two of which were in China.

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