Australia’s 14th case of coronavirus was confirmed by Queensland health on Wednesday evening as Peter Dutton flagged that Australians being evacuated from Wuhan in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak could be sent to isolated mining camps if Christmas Island reaches capacity for people being quarantined.
The latest confirmed case of novel coronavirus is a 37-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan, who is currently isolated in Gold Coast University hospital. He is part of the same tour group associated with Queensland’s other three cases of the novel coronavirus – a 44-year-old man, a 42-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy. All four are in a stable condition.
Five other people from the same tour group remain in isolation in the Gold Coast University hospital.
An Air New Zealand flight left Wuhan on Wednesday carrying 100 New Zealanders, 23 Australians, and 70 people from Pacific countries.
Those 23 Australians and 12 permanent residents will be put on a flight to Christmas Island after they landed in Auckland, via Brisbane.
“They’ll go plane to plane on the tarmac. So it will be a very quick process as I understand,” Dutton said on Wednesday afternoon.
“They’ll stay on the plane in Brisbane when there’s a crew change and then they’ll go on to their final destination at Christmas Island from there.”
As of now, there are 240 Australians and permanent residents on Christmas Island who were evacuated by the Australian government from Wuhan currently in quarantine for 14 days to ensure they are not infected with the coronavirus.
Dutton flagged that if the situation continues, and there are other issues like infections on cruise ships, or more provinces in China being shut down, there is the possibility that Christmas Island could reach capacity.
There was confirmation on Wednesday that two Australians were among the 10 people confirmed to have the coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Yokohama in Japan.
Dutton said one option would be for people to share rooms, or potentially even open up other locations away from the rest of the Australian population.
“There are isolated mining camps or the prospect of hotels that you could take over. But I think we’ll look at all of those in order of what we think is the best response, but all of this is in the spirit of preparation.”
Some of the people quarantined on Christmas Island have complained the centre is unhygienic, and the shared bathrooms risk exacerbating the potential for transmission of coronavirus.
Dutton dismissed the concerns.
“I think frankly, overwhelmingly, except for one photo of one cockroach, most people are complimentary of what has happened,” he said.
“And the scale of this in China, and the way in which these numbers continue to expand, I think gives people an understanding of the gravity of what it is we’re dealing with, not just in China but now as we see on cruise ships and movements of Australians.”
An eight-year-old boy already in isolation in Queensland became the 13th confirmed case of coronavirus in Australia.
There are currently 24,305 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world, 24,292 of those in China. A total of 490 people have died from the virus.