Hundreds of Australians and Kiwis are rescued from hell in a coronavirus cruise ship after two weeks
Dozens of people flying to Melbourne Airport tomorrow may be infected with the deadly corona virus.
Uruguay has evacuated 112 Australians and New Zealanders from a coronavirus-infested cruise ship anchored more than 14 days offshore.
Aurora Expeditions, the operator of the ship Greg Mortimer, has chartered an evacuation flight from the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
It is scheduled to depart Saturday morning local time and arrive in Melbourne on Sunday, with passengers to be isolated in a hotel for 14 days.
Of the returning passengers, about 70 percent of people on board the flight could have coronavirus.
The ship operator confirmed this week that 128 of the 217 people on board, nearly 60 percent, had tested positive for the coronavirus, but all were asymptomatic.
“It remains our priority to have everyone on board disembark as quickly and safely as possible,” an Aurora Expeditions spokesperson said in a statement.
Passengers of the cruise ship Greg Mortimer carry their luggage on the tarmac after they have left the ship for the first time in two weeks
An ambulance is waiting at the cruise ship Greg Mortimer to take sick passengers, including five Australians who have been hospitalized in the capital of Uruguay – Montevideo
“It was a very harrowing time for everyone involved.”
However, the State Department told AAP on Friday that five Australians had been evacuated from the Greg Mortimer and hospitalized in Montevideo.
Uruguay originally refused to allow passengers to leave the cruise ship, but later sent medical teams on board and tracked the situation via WhatsApp.
Most sick crew members and passengers have mild symptoms and are stable, said Karina Rando, director of the Department of Health for Uruguay.
“We have intensive care beds, doctors are available, and we don’t endanger the care of our people,” Rando told the Associated Press.
Passengers are monitored by health professionals when disembarking from the cruise ship Greg Mortimer in Uruguay
An ambulance drives off after picking up sick passengers from the cruise ship Greg Mortimer
Greg Mortimer set sail for Antarctica and South Georgia on March 15, but has docked off the coast of Montevideo since March 27
“We have the logistical and professional capacity to serve these people.”
A sign hanging from a balcony on the ship said, “Thank you, Uruguay.”
The Greg Mortimer departed on March 15 for Antarctica and South Georgia, but has docked off the coast of Montevideo since March 27.
The evacuated passengers, consisting of 96 Australians and 16 New Zealanders, are repatriated through a ‘humanitarian corridor’ with strict biosafety measures.
The Uruguayan government has evacuated 112 passengers from New Zealand and Australia who were trapped on the Greg Mortimer cruise ship for more than two weeks
Passengers display a sign saying “Thank you Uruguay” with a sheet from the cruise ship
They are taken in four buses to Montevideo Carrasco Airport, escorted by the police, and have their luggage disinfected before boarding.
A converted airplane from charter airline Hi Fly takes them to Melbourne.
Medical personnel would also accompany them on the repatriation flight, with the company paying the bill for the insured trip.
“The aircraft will be set up in risk zones, with passengers seated based on test results and the passenger’s level of care required,” said Aurora Expeditions.
The NZ government plans to contact its citizens directly to organize a transfer upon arrival in Australia, Aurora Expeditions said.
More than 280,000 Australians have returned home in recent weeks, with approximately 6,200 disembarking from 45 cruise ships around the world.
An Airbus A340 is waiting on the asphalt to perform a repatriation flight. The flight will land in Melbourne on Sunday
Passengers are seen on board the aircraft after being evacuated from the cruise ship after dark
A healthy passenger boards the plane back to Australia after two weeks stuck on the cruise ship Greg Mortimer