ADF members at the security gatehouse at the entrance to the former Inpex workers’ village at Howard Springs which is being used to house Australian evacuees from Wuhan. Picture: Glenn Campbell
ADF members at the security gatehouse at the entrance to the former Inpex workers’ village at Howard Springs which is being used to house Australian evacuees from Wuhan. Picture: Glenn Campbell

Children removed from school near quarantine camp

CONCERNED parents have removed their children from a school next to the Darwin workers' village where more than 250 Australians have been quarantined after fleeing the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan.

Dozens of parents attended a meeting at the Good Shepherd Lutheran College on Monday, but some left frustrated saying there wasn't enough time given for authorities to properly address their concerns.

"Yeah, it's a bit of a joke," parent Beckie Kernich said.

"There wasn't any community consultation."

Several parents said they became worried after reading reports the novel coronavirus could be airborne.

But NT deputy chief health officer Di Stephens said the virus could only be spread by droplets, requiring close, unprotected personal contact.

"Even if I had the virus, I would have to cough on you or kiss you or spit on you and you rub it in your eyes," she said.

As they left the briefing, some parents said they still had concerns.

Karen Donald said she was keeping her two children home from school while the quarantine site was in place.

"I think there's some issues that have arisen from the school community that the school might have to address," she said.

Ms Kernich said her teenage son was at a trade course this week, but she was yet to decide if she would allow him to attend next week.

She said she wasn't convinced the virus could only be transmitted through droplets.

"I'm assured that that's the information they have currently and that's the information they believe and that's the information they're acting on, from my perspective there's a lot of international information you can see immediately online which may put that into doubt."

But Nicolette McCourt said she was not concerned, and her children would be at school.

"I think unfortunately social media being the way that it is these days there is a lot of misinformation and false information floating around out there so for me personally I just want to come to the meeting today to get the truth," she said.

"It's not airborne, it's only via droplets, there's a 50-metre buffer zone between the village and our fence so there's just no concerns for me.

"I'm not sure if people realise but the facility is actually housing parents with young children and elderly grandparents so personally if I was one of the people that was in Wuhan, China visiting my family during the school holidays I would have wanted the Australian Government to do exactly the same for me and my children."

 

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Medical staff working at the village on Monday said no-one had shown any sign of illness.

"Everyone I saw ... was well, healthy and well, just tired," Australian Medical Assistance Team disaster preparedness and response director Abigail Trewin said.

"The kids were super exited to be home on Aussie soil and I heard repeated 'thank yous' for bringing people home."