Diamond Princess evacuees leave Darwin after weeks in quarantine

Mytran and Kenneth Donnelly leave quarantine in Darwin, bound for home in Sydney.

Mytran and Kenneth Donnelly leave quarantine in Darwin, bound for home in Sydney. Photo: ABC

Former Diamond Princess passengers Mytran and Kenneth Donnelly headed home to Sydney on Thursday after spending 32 days in isolation.

The couple spent 18 days in lockdown on board the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess, and another 14 in a mining camp near Darwin.

In total, it had been 45 days since they left NSW. Mrs Donnelly said the hardest part of the quarantine was missing the birth of their first grandson.

“We’re home free, finally,” she said.

The Diamond Princess captain let the Donnellys access the internet so they could see a video of the newest addition to their family shortly after he was born, and gave them a teddy bear for their grandson.

“We’ll just be glad to go home and see the children,” Mr Donnelly said.

“Looking forward to getting back to normal. I haven’t driven a car for 45 days.”

The couple were also looking forward to taking off their face masks, which they said made Darwin’s humid temperatures feel hotter.

Mr and Mrs Donnelly had nothing but praise for the staff on the cruise ship and at the Manigurr-ma residential village in Howard Springs.

But they said they felt the federal government could have done more to bring Australians home sooner.

Mr and Mrs Donnelly are two of about 150 Australians heading home today after a fortnight in quarantine in Howard Springs.

Altogether, 45 people were tested at the camp. Eight of them tested positive for coronavirus.

Those who tested positive in the centre were medically transferred to their home states, and one man later died in Perth.

Evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived in Darwin on two Qantas flights.

‘A day of joy’

Australian Border Force Commander Colin Drysdale said guests were happy to be heading home, and praised the mission as a success.

“There were almost 50,000 meals prepared, and nearly 1000 maintenance requests finalised,” he said.

“There’s been, on average, 190 staff supporting the efforts on a daily basis here.

“This is a day of joy for them as well.”

Australian Medical Assistance Teams mission leader Abi Trewin said it was great to be able to see passengers and staff sit together without masks.

“We’re very proud to see everyone leave today happy and healthy,” she said.


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