A student is in insolation at a Sydney hospital after test results confirmed she had contracted coronavirus after returning to Australia from Wuhan last week.
A student is in insolation at a Sydney hospital after test results confirmed she had contracted coronavirus after returning to Australia from Wuhan last week.

Student isolated as latest coronavirus case

A University of NSW student has been isolated at Westmead Hospital after test results confirmed she had contracted coronavirus since returning to Sydney from China last week. 

The Sydney woman arrived from Wuhan on China Eastern flight MU749 on January 23 and developed symptoms 24 hours after landing.

She is the fourth person to be diagnosed with the deadly disease in NSW and fifth in Australia.

On Monday afternoon UNSW contacted students and staff to inform them a student had tested positive for the virus. 

A patient was picked up by paramedics from Glebe on Sunday night and taken to RPA with coronavirus symptoms. Picture: Dean Asher
A patient was picked up by paramedics from Glebe on Sunday night and taken to RPA with coronavirus symptoms. Picture: Dean Asher

"NSW Health has advised that the student adhered to their advice and precautions since arriving from Wuhan … NSW Health has stated the students was not infected on the plane," the email said. 

"The student did not attend any classes at the University and stayed on her own in campus accommodation with no close contact before she was admitted to hospital."

The university has set up a help line for urgent inquiries related to the coronavirus urging students to contact 9385 8500 if they were worried. 

"UNSW extends its best wishes to the student for a speedy recovery," the email said. 

"We will continue to review and monitor the situation and update students and staff as new information becomes available."

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the young woman kept herself isolated before alerting medical authorities to her illness.

"She was met at the airport, she obviously received the fact sheet that said, 'If you become unwell, attend and seek care, and these are the signs and symptoms'," she said.

"The Emergency Department took the appropriate procedures," she said.

"The doctors wore the correct personal protective equipment when undertaking the testing.

"We were alerted the testing was done, the patient was immediately put into isolation in a home isolation setting, and then once the diagnosis was confirmed."

Dr Chant also issued a warning for students returning to school this week and said children who have returned from the epicentre province of Hubei with symptoms should stay at home.

Children who have recently travelled from China are still able to go to school if they do not present symptoms. 

Health minister Brad Hazzard said he would happily send his children to school, and said that children and university students are "safe" to go back to classes. 

Mr Hazzard also said that Chinese citizens who do not have health insurance can attend hospital without worrying about costs. "The tab will be picked up by the government," he said. 

It comes as the death toll rose by 24 to 80 in a matter of hours today, following reported fatalities in Hubei.

The number of confirmed cases in China alone is now 2744 - 769 more than previously reported at about 8am (AEDT) today.

Of the figure, 461 of those infected are in serious condition.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has urged family of Australians trapped in the affected area to ring DFAT's consular emergency line, 1300 555 135 or, from outside Australia, +612 6261 3305.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Picture: Joel Carrett
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Picture: Joel Carrett

Senator Payne said there had been "over 385" relevant calls to the line already.

"That is some indication for us of the sort of numbers we are looking at," Senator Payne said.

It was difficult to be accurate because some Australian citizens and residents could have travelled to China on a Chinese passport, she said, plus Australia had no consular presence in Wuhan.

Ms Payne said it wasn't yet possible to say whether Australians would be flown home - if they were extracted from the region.

"This will be dictated by circumstances and the circumstances are not yet defined," she said.

France and the US are among the nations preparing to repatriate their citizens by plane.


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