There was more than one reason for a Melbourne family to make sure they secured seats on the evacuation flight from the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan to Darwin.
- The Melbourne family were separated as cities in China went into lockdown
- They were among more than 250 Australians on the evacuation plane to Darwin
- Evacuees in the quarantine centre in Howard Springs say they’re grateful to be back in Australia
Not only was it the chance to escape cities locked down due to the coronavirus, but also a chance for the family to reunite after a difficult three-week separation because of the travel restrictions in the Chinese province of Hubei.
Five-year-old Angela and 3-year-old Bella screamed and ran towards their father when reunited at the airport in Wuhan.
“The younger one kept repeating, ‘I miss my Daddy, I miss my Daddy’,” their mother Ying Liu said.
Ms Liu said the excitement of the girls was hard to contain.
“When they saw their father in the car, the two were shouting,” she said.
“After I placed the luggage down and opened the door to the car, the two ran to their father and hugged and my husband was very excited too.”
The Qiu family was reunited at Wuhan Airport after Melbourne teacher Hui Qiu was cut off when Wuhan went into lockdown. (Supplied)
Melbourne education consultant Ms Liu and her two young daughters were separated from her husband, Hui Qiu, after he travelled from Wuhan to his hometown Huanggang for Lunar New Year, January 22.
A day later the city of Wuhan was placed into lock down, trapping the 38-year-old mother and her two daughters in the city, and locking her husband out.
Angela and Bella Qiu were stranded in Wuhan with their mother and grandparents while their father was stuck in a neighbouring city. (Supplied)
‘We feel very safe, we are lucky’
Ms Liu and her husband, a year 12 Chinese teacher, have lived in Melbourne for more than a decade and both their children are Australian citizens.
She said that while it was difficult deciding whether to leave her friends and family trapped in Wuhan, her family felt very lucky that they were given the opportunity to leave.
“When we finally arrived on the plane, we felt very safe, we feel that we are lucky, because we know that there are still some citizens, permanent residents, and even Australian children still stuck in Wuhan,” she said.
After an exhausting journey — including spending nearly 10 hours waiting at the airport in Wuhan — the family are now in Australia at a quarantine facility south-east of Darwin’s CBD, where they’ll remain for 14 days.
Mr Qiu said waiting for the flight was “frightening” but his family were grateful for the option.
“We are thankful for what the Government has done for us,” he said.
“The staff here made huge efforts to help us. We were so touched when we saw staff running to each room and sending food for us.”
Ms Liu said the evacuation process has been challenging to navigate with two young children, but all the volunteers, including the medical staff, had been very helpful.
“We don’t have many requirements because we know we are here to be isolated, we’re not here to have a holiday” she said.
“It’s very good actually, we’re surprised that the conditions are much better than the one in Christmas island,” she said.
Vanuatuan student thankful for Australian assistance
Vanuatuan student Harry Abon was one of eight students from the Pacific Islands who were welcomed aboard the second Australian evacuation flight out of Wuhan.
From the Howard Springs quarantine facility, he filmed a video thanking the Australian and Chinese governments for allowing the group of students to join the flight on humanitarian grounds.
“We’d also like to thank the volunteers, and also the nurses and doctors, the Qantas airlines, and everyone that has helped us from the airport in Wuhan, on the flight, and also the volunteers and everyone that are still helping us now,” he said.
He said everyone in quarantine had to wear a mask at all times but that all was going well.
“The facility is in great condition, everyone has their own room,” he said.
“The overall atmosphere is relaxed.”
“You can tell everyone is happy to be out of Wuhan, although we are a bit worried about our friends who are still back in Wuhan,” he said.
“I have faith that everything will be ok.”
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