Coronavirus: 157 Wuhan evacuees permitted to leave quarantine in Whangaparaoa

The 157 people evacuated from Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak are leaving quarantine in Whangaparaoa after being held for a fortnight.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the 157 detainees, including 98 New Zealanders and 59 non-New Zealanders, will be released from quarantine on Wednesday. At roughly 12:45pm the first of the people began to board buses to leave the facility.

The evacuees arrived on February 5 after travelling on a chartered Air New Zealand flight from Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly disease which has claimed 1875 lives since its outbreak in December. 

"As you can imagine, they are all looking forward to going home, whether that's to their own homes here in New Zealand or taking flights back to their own countries," Dr Bloomfield told The AM Show on Wednesday morning.

"We have looked after them, this hasn't been like prison... there have been activities for them and I'm really proud of the way we've looked after them.

"We're certainly pleased that all those folk out of Wuhan have remained well, none of them have come down with coronavirus."

Dr Bloomfield said some of the 157 people were tested over the two weeks after displaying very mild symptoms.

"We had a very low bar for testing, anyone with even very mild symptoms we tested... we thought that was prudent. None of those tests were positive... none are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus so we're very confident we can give them the all-clear."

At a press conference on Monday, Dr Bloomfield confirmed the New Zealand-based evacuees will be integrated back into the community while those from overseas will be repatriated. 

Eight New Zealanders will also be evacuated to Darwin from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan, where all on-board have been kept in lockdown for two weeks. 

Two other New Zealanders refused to take the chartered flight and are likely to remain in Japan during the 14-day quarantine period, while another will return to their residence in Hong Kong. 

Two more Kiwi cruise ship passengers remain hospitalised with the virus.

Dr Bloomfield said the cruise ship passengers are at more risk of contracting the disease than the Wuhan evacuees due to the active infection on the Diamond Princess. Around 14 percent of all on-board have contracted the coronavirus.

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