The Australians preparing to be evacuated from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan will be tested for the illness five times before bunkering down for 14 days at a facility near Darwin.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the first test would be on the ship, before two on the evacuation flight, another after landing at the Darwin military base before the final one at the Howard Springs facility.
The flight is expected to arrive in Australia on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, pending its final departure time.
About 200 Australians are stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
If they don’t take up the evacuation offer they will have to wait 14 days after disembarking the ship before being given the green light to re-enter Australia, Mr Hunt said.
The ship – which has had more than 450 cases confirmed, including at least 16 Australians – has been quarantined at the port of Yokohama for more than two weeks.
But due to the number of recent cases on the ship, they would have to undergo another two-week quarantine period at the Howard Springs facility.
Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy says they will have access to medical assistance 24/7.
“I can be absolutely confident that they will be very well looked after here, in much better facilities than being in a tiny cabin on a cruise ship,” Professor Murphy told reporters in Darwin.
Prof Murphy has also sought to alleviate concerns in the Darwin community, saying they will be completely protected from the disease.
Wednesday’s flight will also include New Zealanders, who will be transferred home after landing in Darwin.
Cabin crew of the Qantas flight will be subject to two weeks of home quarantine after returning from the rescue mission.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has set aside $2 million to help find a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
In response to misinformation, he has also urged members of Australia’s Chinese community to move around freely as normal unless they have returned from mainland China within the past 14 days.
The self-isolation recommendation only applies to anyone who had recently visited China in the last 14 days.
Thirty-six people remain on Christmas Island and are preparing to fly home on Wednesday, after the majority of the quarantined group returned to the mainland on Monday.
After the final group leaves, the facility will be readied for the possibility of more Australians facing the two-week isolation period.
Melissa Wang, who arrived in Sydney, told AAP she was “feeling so exhausted it’s kind of just a relief”.
But her experience on the island was “really positive” and she was “very surprised by the care of all the teams”.
In Perth, 10-year-old Elizabeth Taylor told reporters she enjoyed “running around, being free, seeing all the crabs” but said there were daily health checks too.
Elizabeth said she mostly played sport, including tennis, and did not have to do schoolwork.
There have been 15 cases of COVID-19 in Australia, with eight people now recovered and the rest in a stable condition.
There are now more than 72,000 cases worldwide, with 1868 reported deaths.