A passenger evacuated from the Diamond Princess has become the first Australian to die from a coronavirus infection, Western Australian health officials have confirmed.
The 78-year-old man, whose name has not been released, passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning.
His wife is also being treated for the coronavirus and remains in hospital, where her condition is listed as satisfactory.
She had originally tested negative for the strain but became ill and was taken to hospital in Perth late last week.
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Australian hospitals are bracing for an increase in cases and the federal government has enacted an emergency plan pre-empting that the World Health Organisation will declare the flu-like virus at pandemic levels.
As of Sunday afternoon, there were 27 cases of the virus across the nation with 86,983 people infected globally and 2978 have died.
The elderly WA couple were among 164 Australians taken from the cruise ship which, until recent spikes in cases in South Korea and Iran, had been the site of the highest number of outbreaks outside China.
On Saturday, a man who had also been on board Diamond Princess became the first UK man to die of the virus.
He was one of four British passengers who had been kept in Japan after contracting the sickness during their time on board.
Meanwhile, as the virus spreads with increasing speed around the world, suspicion that Iran’s coronavirus infection rate is much higher than reported has prompted a swift Australian travel ban, effective from Sunday, March 1.
The secretive country has the highest official death toll outside Hubei and is now the highest risk outside China.
But it is denying accusations of a cover-up.
In Queensland, a beauty salon worker has been confirmed to have the sickness after returning from a trip to Iran.
Authorities are trying to track down any clients who may have visited the Hair Plus salon at Australia Fair at Southport.
The state’s chief health officer, Jeanette Young, said on Sunday that a number of people who’d had their hair done at the salon had been assessed at Gold Coast University Hospital.
None were unwell.
She said anyone who had been overseas in the past two weeks and “have become unwell” should see their GP amid the coronavirus crisis.
“None of the staff are at increased risk and do not need home quarantine,” Ms Young said.
“They didn’t have that sustained 15-minute exposure that is regarded for close contact.”
She said the beautician at the Hair Plus salon only developed the symptoms on Thursday afternoon and had immediately reported her concerns to her employer.
The woman returned to Australia from Iran on February 24.
“I’ve got no concerns about the people who were on the plane with that lady who returned from Iran because she was thoroughly well and she only developed full symptoms at 3pm on Thursday,” she said.
“I’m very, very comfortable that there is no risk for anyone on the plane she travelled back to Australia with.”