FACTBOX-From Disneyland to Christmas Island: unlikely quarantine sites

by Amber Milne | @hiyaimamber | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 6 February 2020 17:23 GMT

A locked gate is seen after the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park has been closed, following the coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong, China January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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As coronavirus begins spreading outside China, countries are looking at where to put suspected carriers

By Amber Milne

LONDON, Feb 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As the world struggles to contain coronavirus, governments are weighing innovative sites and converting remote buildings - even islands - into quarantine bays for suspected carriers.

The deadly virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 28,000 people and killed 563 people in mainland China alone.

With Wuhan in lockdown and suspected cases logged from as far afield as Italy to India, here are eight places around the globe tapped as possible quarantine sites:

DISNEYLAND

Yiu Si-wing, a Hong Kong lawmaker representing the tourism sector, has proposed to government that Disney resort hotels are the perfect candidates for conversion.

The Disney theme park, already closed because of the virus, has a mass of empty rooms across three hotels and Si-wing says its location is remote enough to keep Hong Kong safe.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND

Australia's Christmas Island, a territory in the Indian Ocean that sits 1,500 km (900 miles) from the mainland, will house hundreds of Australians evacuated from the danger zone.

Previously used to detain asylum seekers, the island is currently home to a Tamil family that Australia wants to deport to Sri Lanka.

CRUISE SHIPS

A Diamond Princess ship in Yokohama carrying some 3,700 people was put under quarantine with 20 confirmed cases of the virus onboard.

This is one of two ships under quarantine in Asia, where passengers are confined to cabin and food delivery is slow.

TRAINING CENTRES

Hundreds of South Koreans evacuated from Wuhan have been quarantined in training centres usually used by civil servants, angering locals who feared the location was not remote enough.

A French firefighter training centre in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence is also under consideration. The mayor's office said it had "natural confinement spaces" as well as an airstrip.

PUBLIC HOUSING

In Hong Kong, unoccupied Fai Ming public housing block was a candidate until protests broke out, fuelled by concerns the newly constructed site was too close to a school and other housing.

Locals blocked roads to the block with bricks and debris, while masked protesters smashed windows and set fire to the lobby with Molotov cocktails before riot police moved in.

MILITARY BASES

A host of countries have suggested housing people exposed to the virus in military bases, which are often remote, easy to manage and come with high security and big barracks.

The Pentagon said it would provide four military installations while Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam have also offered up bases.

SANATORIUM

Russia has used military planes to fly evacuees from Wuhan to a quarantined sanatorium just outside the Siberian city of Tyumen, with two confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The camp is fenced and guarded by CCTV cameras and military patrols to ensure security.

MOUNTAINS

India is housing 645 people evacuated from Wuhan in two army-managed mountain quarantine centres on the outskirts of the capital. The evacuees will stay in the mountains for two weeks.

India - the world's second most heavily populated country after China - has three reported cases of coronavirus and has declared a "state of calamity".

SOURCES: Reuters, Princess Cruises, Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Connexion

(Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

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