News Six Australian Darwin evacuees test positive to coronavirus

Six Australian Darwin evacuees test positive to coronavirus

Australian evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrive in Darwin on Thursday. Photo: AAP
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Another two people evacuated to Darwin from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus, authorities have confirmed.

Six Australians who left the ship on Thursday have now tested positive to the disease, with the figure expected to rise with another three patients to be screened on Saturday.

The latest rise comes as health minister Greg Hunt announced on Saturday that Australia will start allowing students in years 11 and 12 to enter from China, except from the Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus.

He said COVID-19 has been contained in Australia and the medical recommendation to the government is that the Australian Border Force continue to provide case-by-case exemptions to the travel ban from mainland China.

“In particular, that should include consideration of year 11 and 12 secondary school students from mainland China, excluding Hubei,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, the two people from Victoria who tested positive to the infection on Saturday will be repatriated to their home state’s health system.

Two Queensland women aged 54 and 55 who tested positive on Friday night will be flown to a Brisbane hospital on Saturday for further treatment.

Earlier, two other Australians were confirmed to have contracted coronavirus.

A 78-year-old man from Western Australia was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth on Friday. His wife was to travel with him but then be isolated at home for two weeks.

A 24-year-old woman from South Australia has been transferred to Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Under the evacuation deal, state governments agreed to treat any patients in their home states.

“We will continue to screen every day and to have that very precautionary approach to testing and ensuring that we are picking up early, and isolating early anybody who is positive for COVID-19,” says acting Chief Health Officer Dr Di Stephens.

“We do have three people who are identified overnight that will be screened and tested.”

Before the medical transfers she said they were “reasonably well” with a cough, sore throat, symptoms of a common cold.

There were 170 Australians on the evacuation flight. They will be quarantined at the facility near Darwin for two weeks after leaving the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama.

They are being kept separate from the 266 people who were already in quarantine at Howard Springs, who were evacuated earlier this month from the epicentre of the virus at Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province.

They will leave on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Australia has extended its ban on foreign travellers from China for another week as the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Hubei province grows.

The ban is due to end on February 29 but is under ongoing consideration from the national security committee of cabinet.