Queensland health officials have revealed the Chinese women’s national soccer team is being quarantined in Brisbane over concerns about the possible spread of coronavirus.
- Dr Young says none of the players are unwell and there is no risk to public health
- The players and team officials will be in isolation until next Wednesday
- Queensland students who have travelled to China recently are being advised to stay home for 14 days
The announcement came shortly before the state’s chief health officer, Jeannette Young, confirmed Queensland’s first case of the illness.
“A 44-year-old Chinese national, who is currently isolated in the Gold Coast University Hospital, has been confirmed to have novel coronavirus,” Dr Young said in a statement on Wednesday night.
“The man, who is from the city of Wuhan (Hubei Province) is stable.”
Dr Young earlier said 32 people in the Chinese women’s soccer squad — including players and staff — travelled through the city of Wuhan one week ago, where the outbreak is believed to have begun.
In light of this, Dr Young said they had been placed in isolation in a Brisbane hotel until February 5.
The group were checked by border officials after arriving in Brisbane on a flight from Shanghai on Wednesday morning before being placed in isolation at a hotel.
Dr Young said authorities were working with the team and the hotel’s management to ensure the visitors remained separated from staff and other guests.
She said no-one from the group had shown any symptoms of the virus and the team had been travelling with their own doctor.
“There is absolutely no risk to anyone else in that hotel or to the staff in that hotel, these people are all well,” she said.
“They’ve been extremely cooperative, as has the Chinese consulate, and they will work with us, and the hotel has been fantastic as well.
“If any of these footballers develop any symptoms we will of course be taking them immediately to one of our hospitals … to be immediately assessed and tested and isolated.”
In a statement, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said the health and wellbeing of all players, staff and spectators was “of paramount importance to both FFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)”.
“FFA is working with the Australian Government and AFC to explore the ramifications of this advice and how it may affect the staging of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Qualifiers,” the FFA said.
“As a result of these developments … FFA will not be going on sale tomorrow with tickets for the tournament.”
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has also changed the order of home matches to be played by Chinese clubs in the AFC Champions League group stage due to the coronavirus, Asian soccer’s governing body has confirmed.
The move follows consultation with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and means that home games of the four Chinese clubs on the first three match days will be rescheduled and played away by swapping the order with their opponents.
“The decision, which was also made in conjunction with the competing clubs from the respective groups, is a precautionary measure to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all participating players and teams,” the AFC said in a statement.
According to the revised schedule, Beijing Guoan will open their campaign at FC Seoul on February 11 and visit Melbourne Victory on March 3.
Students back from China urged to stay home
Meanwhile, the Queensland Education Department has also issued new advice for any students or staff who have travelled to China in the past 14 days to keep themselves isolated and not return to school for 14 days.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the advice given to schools would be updated in line with the changes to the national advice.
“We are updating the advice to schools to ask them to isolate all students who have travelled to China in the last 14 days until they have been returned 14 days without symptoms,” he said.
Mr Miles said authorities were continuing to work together across all levels of government and with other states to “keep Queenslanders safe”.
Education Minister Grace Grace said the department would alert schools about the change in advice immediately.
“This is a precaution, but we ask of course to act if there are any symptoms … self-isolate immediately,” she said.
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