Fifth coronavirus case hits Australia


A young female Chinese student is likely to be the fifth person in Australia to contract the deadly coronavirus, health authorities say.

Professor Brendan Murphy, the federal government's chief medical officer, said the girl was in isolation and had preliminary tested positive to the virus.

"She is in isolation until the final confirmation. But NSW Health feel she's likely to be the fifth case in the country," he told Today.

Authorities are now working to track down the people she has been in contact with.

Australian health authorities have warned more cases are likely to emerge in the coming days.

"Public health follow-up of this probable case is being undertaken in accordance with the national guidelines and the patient remains in isolation," NSW Health said in a statement.


The shaking patient was captured on film on a grubby-looking hospital stretcher.
The shaking patient was captured on film on a grubby-looking hospital stretcher.

Three patients in NSW and one in Victoria have already been diagnosed with the virus following an outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Three men aged 35, 43, and 53 are being treated in a Sydney hospital but have been listed as being stable and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Sunday said he was pleased with their progress.

Authorities have spoken to all but two people who have been in close contact with the three men since they arrived from China.

In Victoria, a man in his 50s is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family members are being quarantined at home.

Prof Murphy said he had sent a letter to every GP in Australia, asking them to consider any recent arrival from Wuhan with flu-like symptoms a potential coronavirus case.

"They will probably turn out to be negative, but they should be treated that way, isolated and then referred to the nearest emergency department with calling ahead," Dr Murphy told ABC TV on Monday.

More than 2000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, most in China, while 56 people have died.

China's National Health Commission says the incubation period for the virus can range from one-to-14 days, during which infection can occur.



It comes as Australian authorities are probing the possibility of repatriating more than 100 children from coronavirus-hit Wuhan.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt today said more than 100 young Australians are in Wuhan, which has been locked down by Chinese authorities. The government is working to extract those children from the city.

But Mr Hunt said the government would not yet suspend flights from China, nor screen every passenger on board.

"Every flight is being met by officials, and officials I'm advised, will be boarding the flights and ensuring each individual who has travelled on those flights is directly receiving information," Mr Hunt told the ABC. "We're working to make sure there's support for those (100) Australians and we are also working, as are other countries, to secure their ability to return."

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said closing Australia's borders due to coronavirus "would be a very significant step".

It needs to be established how Australians would be evacuated and whether they need to be quarantined upon their return, Ms Payne said.

"We don't have a definitive number on the number of Australians in Wuhan or in Hubei province because it will include a significant number of dual nationals, some of whom may not have travelled on Australian passports, they've travelled on Chinese passports for example," she told 3AW on Monday.

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