Australia now has 13 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus after an eight-year-old boy was isolated in a Queensland hospital, as the federal government prepares to receive more evacuees from China.
The child, from Wuhan which is the epicentre of the virus outbreak in the central China province of Hubei, was a member of a tour group travelling in Australia in late January.
Two other people from that group, a man, 44, and a woman, 42, also had the virus and Queensland health authorities had been scrambling to contact other people on their flights in case the infection had spread.
“The child remains in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital and is currently stable,” the state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said.
The case of the boy takes the number of confirmed cases in Queensland to three, adding the four cases in each of NSW and Victoria and two in South Australia. The nation infection rate now stands at 13 people.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed a group of 35 Australians—not 50 as originally flagged—stranded in Wuhan left the Chinese city on Wednesday morning time on an Air New Zealand flight evacuating up to 100 Kiwis and a number of Pacific islanders to Auckland.
From there, the Australians will be transferred to quarantine on Christmas Island, off the north-west coast of Western Australia, where they will join about 241 citizens and permanent residents who arrived on Monday and Tuesday.
Another couple from the first group, a man and heavily pregnant woman, were isolated at a Perth hospital because there are no maternity services on the island.
Morrison also warned Australians still in Wuhan a possible second assisted evacuation flight home – the details of which are still be negotiated with Chinese authorities – might be the last.
“What I want to tell people is that they can’t count on a further flight beyond that,” he told Nine Network.
The Air NZ aircraft was flying over the Phillippines around 7.30 a.m. local time.
So far, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus infection among the men, women and children already on Christmas Island, where they are being held for up to two weeks.
A team of specialist doctors and nurses is closely monitoring the evacuees, who were flown out of Wuhan on a Qantas flight.
Up to 600 Australians initially registered for the evacuation flights home but some have decided to remain in Wuhan. It’s not clear how many will join the next flight.
Globally, 426 people—mostly Chinese citizens—have died from the virus, including one death in the Philippines. The number of confirmed cases stands at 20,630.