Fears Of Coronavirus Case On Christmas Island After Child Becomes Unwell
A young evacuee has become sick on Christmas Island, with tests now being carried out to confirm whether the illness is coronavirus.
Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly confirmed that a young child, among the nearly 300 evacuees quarantined on the island, had developed symptoms of an illness.
"It could be all sorts of other things, we don't have a test positive at this point, but ... a child has developed symptoms that could be coronavirus, " Kelly told reporters on Saturday afternoon.
Kelly said a sample had been sent back to Perth where tests would be run to determine what the illness is.
It's expected it will take between 24-48 hours for the results of the test to be returned.
"It is certainly not a serious illness at this stage, they have been further isolated from other people that are on the island," Kelly said.
"The appropriate steps of infection control and indeed medical care are being taken."
It comes as plans to evacuate more Australians out of the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan were hampered overnight with the plane not getting clearance to land from China.
The plane which was originally scheduled to leave Wuhan on Friday night was still grounded in Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon with the Australian government saying it is working closely with Chinese authorities to get clearance.
On Saturday, Kelly said all the preparations had been made and staff and crew were ready to go, but the final say as to whether the flight could go ahead remained with the Chinese authorities.
"As soon as possible that flight will be arriving in Darwin," Kelly said, adding he was confident clearance would be approved.
"I can't absolutely guarantee it because it is indeed on Chinese soil and the Chinese have been fantastically cooperative and helpful in relation to not only Australian flights but many other countries that have been wanting to repatriate their citizens."
Once the Australians are extracted they will be sent to the Manigurr-ma Village at Howard Springs, 30km from Darwin, with Christmas Island unable to house another couple of hundred evacuees.
The federal government said on Friday evacuees would be screened before boarding the plane in China and continuously monitored by medical staff during the flight.
Anyone found to be unwell on arrival at Darwin will be taken directly to hospital where they will be quarantined, the government said.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said those staying at the Howard Springs facility were unlikely to become infectious and their health would be closely monitored.
"It is important people living in and around Howard Springs know the novel coronavirus can only be transmitted by close contact with an infectious person and cannot be spread through the air," he said.
Latest Coronavirus Evacuees Flight Will Take Aussies To Disused Mining Camp Near Darwin
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that Australians stuck in Wuhan will now be flown to a disused mining camp in the Northern Territory, anticipating the Christmas Island may not be able to house all evacuees.
"The health and safety of the Howard Springs community is of paramount importance and I am confident the security and public health measures put in place will prevent any risk to the community's health."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned people not to assume any further evacuation flights will be possible, either from Wuhan or mainland China.
The current number of confirmed cases in Australia remains at 15, with dozens more still being tested. Four cases have been confirmed in NSW, four in Victoria, five in Queensland and two in South Australia.
On Saturday, Kelly said all of the confirmed cases had a close connection with Wuhan or with someone from Wuhan.
"We've had no cases in the general community. We had no positive tests of all the people we've looked at coming across the border since February 1. We've had no positive tests from anywhere else across the community," he said.
"We are certainly at a state of alert to make sure we don't pick up any further cases."