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Community help needed to combat virus threat

30 January 2020

Queensland Health has called for calm and vigilance following confirmation a Chinese national has tested positive to the novel coronavirus on the Gold Coast.

The man, 44, remains in a stable condition at Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH), where he is in isolation.

Contact tracing is underway to determine if other people need to be tested for coronavirus.

The man, who is from the city of Wuhan (Hubei Province), arrived in Melbourne via Singapore as part of a tour group on 22 January 2020, five days before feeling unwell.

He developed symptoms on a flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on Tiger Airways flight #TT566 on 27 January. The flight arrived at 8.45pm.

He was taken to GCUH about 3.30pm on 28 January where he was tested and diagnosed with coronavirus.

Eight other people from the same tour group are also in isolation in GCUH.

“There is a low risk to the people on the flight so we will be contacting each one of them,” Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said.

Dr Young said Queenslanders could have every confidence in the state’s response to the health emergency.

“This is a serious health issue but we are very well-prepared,” Dr Young said.

“This is our first case and I strongly suspect it will not be our last case. We’ve responded to health emergencies in the past – swine flu, bird flu, SARS, MERS and Ebola – and we’ve done it effectively.

“The community has a big part to play in stopping the spread of coronavirus. Just like you would in flu season, wash your hands regularly, cover your cough or sneeze and, if you feel unwell, avoid contact with others and get medical attention.

“And we also need the community to remain calm. You can rest assured we are working around the clock to manage this rapidly evolving issue.”

A Chinese football team being assessed for coronavirus will remain quarantined until 5 February.

“We are working closely with the hotel and the 32 individuals concerned – who are all well and not showing symptoms – and we have Queensland Heath staff present at the hotel,” she said.

“The hotel is in the process of alerting other guests and staff and making suitable arrangements.

“We want to reassure the public, no one else in this hotel, including staff, is at risk. If any of the individuals begin to show symptoms, they will be transferred to a hospital, and any necessary contact tracing will take place.”

Under the agreed national approach in the advice to people who have travelled to China:

  • Contacts of any confirmed novel coronavirus case must self-isolate for 14 days following exposure.
  • Returned travellers who have visited Hubei Province of China need to self-isolate for 14 days after leaving Hubei Province.
  • Returned travellers who have visited China or Hong Kong cannot attend school, childcare or TAFE for 14 days after leaving China or Hong Kong – this includes students, teachers and other staff in these facilities.

Self-isolation means staying at home and not accepting visitors.

This is a precautionary measure following new advice around the timeframe that people are contagious before showing symptoms.

For information on coronavirus, contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Media contact: +61 7 3708 5376

Last updated: 30 January 2020