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Australia quarantines coronavirus evacuees with Tamil family at Christmas Island

The Eelam Tamil family detained at Christmas Island as they fight deportation to Sri Lanka now face a new risk, with the Australian government using the same island to quarantine those who may have been exposed to coronavirus.

Advocates of the family are demanding that they are removed from Christmas Island before it becomes a “quarantine zone” for evacuees from Wuhan in China, where the virus is reported to have originated from.

Priya, Nadesalingam and their two daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa at ages four and two respectively were sent to Christmas Island in August last year. The family of four are currently the sole inhabitants of Christmas Island and were unaware of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s intention to fly “vulnerable” Australian citizens to the coronavirus epicentre on Christmas Island. 

According to Freelance journalist Rebekah Holt, the family were unaware of their fate until she had contacted them.

Despite Peter Dutton affairs minister’s statement that it is a “completely separate area” from the intended isolation zone meant for those infected with the coronavirus, Holt said that Priya was deeply upset about the news.

“They hadn’t been informed of any of the government’s plans to use the centre as an evacuation centre for the Wuhan people,” she said. “It was rough, [Priya] burst into tears.”

She had many questions about the nature of the virus and how it spreads. Priya also brought to Holt’s attention that she was still waiting on a Cat scan to asses an injury she had sustained when they had been taken to the Christmas Island last August.

The family’s lawyer also commented on the matter, expressing her shock of not having been informed of this.

"Our view is they should be transferred out before anyone comes in ... It's not appropriate for them to remain on Christmas Island if you're quarantining people near them for the purpose of keeping them away from everyone else," she said.

Click here to see more from The Guardian, and here for SBS.