Uni Student Confirmed As Fifth Case Of Deadly Coronavirus In Australia
A student from Sydney's UNSW has become the fifth person to contract, the deadly coronavirus, as four other possible cases are investigated in WA.
NSW Health on Monday afternoon said a 21-year-old woman has tested positive to the new virus strain, and is in isolation at Westmead Hospital -- the fourth person to test positive in NSW.
Another person in Victoria has also been confirmed to have contracted the virus, bringing the total number of Australian cases to five. Four more people are being tested in Western Australia.
But health officials don't believe there has been any local human-to-human transmission.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) told students in an email, obtained by 10 daily, that one of their students had tested positive.
"NSW Health has advised that a UNSW student has tested positive for the coronavirus. The student is in hospital in isolation," said the message, in the name of the university's president, vice-chancellor and provost, sent to the university's community on Monday afternoon.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the woman was met at Sydney airport after travelling on last Thursday's last direct flight from Wuhan. Chant said the woman developed some symptoms about 24 hours later. She presented to an emergency department where testing was carried out.
"We were alerted the testing was done, the patient was immediately put into isolation in a home isolation setting, and then once the diagnosis was confirmed, the patient has just been transported to Westmead Hospital," Chant told reporters on Monday afternoon.
In a statement, UNSW said the woman did not attend any classes at the university and stayed on her own in campus accommodation with no close contact before she was admitted to hospital.
"UNSW extends its best wishes to the student for a speedy recovery," the statement said.
Chant also said the woman acted on the advice provided to her, and that there are no close contacts.
"There are just a couple of very low-level contacts that we are currently tracing," Chant said.
It comes as the WA Department of Health on Monday confirmed four adults are being tested in that state for the deadly coronavirus.
The department would not confirm any further details about the patients but said they each met specific travel criteria.
There have been no confirmed cases in WA, with three people returning negative test results so far.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said he has been advised one case in Perth may be positive, but is yet to be confirmed.
WA Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson said the risk to the community remained low.
"We are continuing to monitor the situation very carefully and there is no need for alarm," he said.
But Murphy said it's likely more cases across the country will be positive.
"There are people being tested every day and there will be more probably that turn out to be positive," he told reporters on Monday afternoon.
Other Cases In Australia
Three other patients in NSW and one in Victoria have already been diagnosed with the virus after an outbreak centred in the Chinese city of Wuhan which has spread across the world.
Three men aged 35, 43, and 53 are also being treated in a Sydney hospital for coronavirus while in Melbourne a man in his 50s is being treated at the Monash Medical Centre.
Another five cases are under investigation in NSW.
In Queensland, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said authorities were contacting four people who were on the same flight as the Victorian patient who tested positive.
"If these people are unwell, we will assess them for coronavirus," Young said on Monday.
There have been no reports of the virus in Queensland after six patients all tested negative on Sunday.
The chief medical officer urged anyone who had travelled to China and developed flu-like symptoms to contact their local GP or emergency department.
Every flight into Australia from China is now being met by border security officers who work to identify unwell passengers and distribute health information. Announcements are also being made in arrival halls.
But Murphy insisted there was no reason to quarantine passengers arriving from China or cancel Chinese New Year celebrations.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the federal government was looking "very closely" at how it could potentially help Australians escape Wuhan and Hubei province.
"We are exploring all opportunities to ensure when it is possible we can assist their departure," she told reporters in Sydney.
But Payne minister said there were limitations because Canberra doesn't have a consular presence on the ground.
The coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan has so far killed 80 people in China and infected more than 2750.
Health authorities are urging parents of children who have had contact with a confirmed case of the virus to keep them at home, and to monitor for symptoms.
NSW Health's Chant said any child who has been in contact with a person confirmed to have the virus must not attend school or childcare for 14 days.
“14 days represents the internationally recognised incubation period for the disease,” Chant said.
“After this time the child is considered to be not be at risk of infection.”
Students who have travelled to Wuhan and Hubei during the school holidays can return to school but should be carefully monitored for symptoms, Chant said.