Wuhan cargo plane lands in Sydney
A cargo plane carrying six crew members from Wuhan arrived in Sydney late on Wednesday night as the Chinese city at the heart of the global pandemic reopened.
The Boeing 747 operated by Suparna Airlines touched down as Sydney International Airport about 9.30pm carrying desperately needed face masks and medical supplies.
The crew were pictured unloading boxes and checking in at the airport's 4-star Rydges Hotel, where they are expected to be quarantined for 14 days.
A cargo flight from Wuhan, China believed to be headed to Sydney airport is now in airspace over Queensland. pic.twitter.com/QNYVnXceiL— Chris Urquhart (@chrisurquhart) April 8, 2020
The flight is the first to arrive in Australia from Wuhan since January 23 and marks the official lifting of restrictions in the city where the outbreak began.
Wuhan ended its 76-day lockdown Wednesday morning, allowing residents to again travel in and out of the city without special authorisation.
Long lines formed at the airport and train and bus stations as thousands streamed out of the city to return to their homes and jobs elsewhere.
Yellow barriers that had blocked off some streets were gone, although the gates to residential compounds remained guarded.
Reuters reports 55,000 people were expected to leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday and by early morning more than 10,000 had left by plane. Flights to Beijing and international locations have not resumed.
More than 65,000 people were expected to depart Wednesday by plane and train. It didn't take long for traffic to begin moving swiftly through reopened bridges, tunnels and highway toll booths.
Nearly 1000 vehicles went through a toll booth at Wuhan's border between midnight and 7am, according to Yan Xiangsheng, a district police chief.
According to airport official Lou Guowei, the first flight left Wuhan Tianhe International Airport at 7.25am for Sanya, a coastal city in Hainan province.
"The crew will wear goggles, masks, and gloves throughout the flight," chief flight attendant Guo Binxue was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua News Agency.
"It will be very smooth because we have made much preparation for this flight."
Restrictions in the city where most of China's more than 82,000 virus cases and over 3,300 deaths from COVID-19 were reported have been gradually eased as cases declined.
The government reported no new cases in the city on Wednesday, but said 62 had been recorded elsewhere - 59 of them coming from abroad.
In Australia, the fight to bring the virus under control continues.
There are now just over 6000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2734 in New South Wales, 1212 in Victoria, 943 in Queensland, 420 in South Australia, 481 in Western Australia, 107 in Tasmania, 99 in the Australian Capital Territory and 28 in the Northern Territory.
Originally published as Wuhan cargo plane lands in Sydney