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Virus evacuees land on Christmas Island

virus evacuees 700

Another batch of stranded Australians are preparing to be evacuated from the epicentre of the coronavirus in China to New Zealand after more than 200 citizens and resident were taken to Christmas Island overnight.

More than 100 Australians are expected to be amongst the passengers on an Air New Zealand flight heading to Auckland on Tuesday carrying about 50 New Zealanders and an unknown number of Pacific Islanders on Tuesday.

On Monday, the first of the 243 Australian evacuees were taken out of Wuhan in Hubei province on Monday on a Qantas 747 to Western Australia's RAAF Base Learmonth, near Exmouth, landing on Monday night.

The Australians then began the second leg of the journey on smaller aircraft to Christmas Island and touched down about 9pm local time (1am Tuesday AEDT).

After landing, the men, women and children who were in family groups and wearing face masks were met by defence personnel and medics and taken to buses due to transported to an existing detention centre on the island in the Indian Ocean.

They will be quarantined for about two weeks to see if they show any signs of the virus.

Of the 243 passengers, five are under two years old while 89 are younger than 16.

Australia's Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said the evacuees would be isolated in small family groups on Christmas Island.

"There won't be a full mingling," he said.

"If someone does get unwell their family might have to start again for 14 days but we wouldn't want to expose the whole group to that."

Meanwhile, the federal government's arrangement with New Zealand on the Australians due to be airlifted out of Wuhan on Tuesday are still being finalised.

At the centre of discussions is what will happen to the Australians once the plane lands in Auckland, where they would be expected to be put into quarantine. But they could be sent back to Australia.

More than 600 Australians had registered their interest in being evacuated from Wuhan but not everyone has taken up the government's offer, preferring to ride out the virus outbreak in China.

There have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, and more than 17,000 cases and 360 deaths globally.

Foreign travellers who have left or passed through China will be denied entry to Australia to limit the spread of the virus.

© AAP 2020 Photo credit: AP Photo/Arek Rataj