Coronavirus: 400 Australian citizens desperate to get out of Wuhan ‘ground zero’
Kaitlyn Offer and Steve Zemek
Tuesday, 28 January 2020 7:17 pm
The federal government is trying to deploy officials into the locked-down Chinese city of Wuhan where around 400 Australian citizens have registered for evacuation from the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus.
Australian embassy officials have met with Chinese authorities in Beijing about the options available for citizens in Wuhan.
“Right now, the Australian government, through our embassy, is looking to deploy, working with the Chinese government consular officials, into Hubei province, into Wuhan,” prime minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.
Mr Morrison said the National Security Committee is meeting every few days to discuss the issue as more people arrive in Australia from China.
“We’re working closely with the states and territories and we’ll continue to do that to keep Australians safe,” he said.
“But I would encourage Australians to go about their business, to understand and listen to the advice that’s being received.”
Five people are being treated in Australian hospitals for the virus after returning from visiting the region, but Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said they were all in a stable condition.
NSW school children have been told to stay at home if they’ve returned from China within the past 14 days - the incubation period of the virus.
“We are asking parents who have holidayed with their children in China, if they have not been back for 14 days, support the community by holding back your children,” NSW health minister Brad Hazard said.
The direction from NSW is at odds with other states and federal governments which recommend students can return to school unless they’re a confirmed case of coronavirus, have been exposed to a confirmed case or have symptoms.
Some private schools around the country, however, have also told students to stay away if they’ve recently travelled to China.
Ten students of Brisbane’s Stuarthome School for girls are flying back from China and will spend two weeks in quarantine at the boarding school to manage any risk of them spreading the illness.
CORONAVIRUS SYDNEY AIRPORT
Five Australian citizens have contracted coronavirus after returning from China. Credit: AAP
But authorities warn there’s likely to be more cases and are working to trace any human contact the five confirmed patients have had, including people who were on the same flights from China to Australia.
In NSW, there are four confirmed cases including a 21-year-old University of NSW student who was diagnosed after flying back from the virus epicentre in Wuhan, China, and three men - aged 35, 43 and 53 - who are being treated at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.
The UNSW student displayed no symptoms upon landing in Sydney on Thursday but 24 hours later began exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
In Victoria, a man in his 50s is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family members are under home isolation.
It’s now believed people who are infected could pass the illness to others the virus’ incubation period, which ranges from one-to-14 days.
Doctors had believed patients were only contagious when they started showing symptoms.