An eight-year-old boy has been confirmed as Queensland’s third case of the potentially deadly coronavirus. The child, who is Chinese and from the virus epicentre of Wuhan, was confirmed to have the virus by Queensland health officials on Tuesday night.
He was travelling in the same tour group as the 44-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman who have been confirmed as Queensland’s other cases of coronavirus. The child remains in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital and is currently stable.
The child is now the 13th person in Australia to be infected with the virus — there are four cases in NSW and Victoria and two cases in South Australia to go with the three in Queensland.
The boy is the first child to be diagnosed with the virus in Australia and the youngest by a wide margin, with other confirmed cases mostly occurring in people older than 30, though two in their 20s are also confirmed cases. Two more Australians in China have also been infected with the virus.
The news comes as 240 Australian citizens and residents are being quarantined on Christmas Island, having been evacuated from Wuhan on a charter flight organised by the Morrison Government.
Some of those complained about the conditions at the centre, which they said had poor internet and a number of insects. As of Tuesday, the number of deaths in China from the virus had reached 425 and there are 20,438 confirmed infections, according to the Associated Press.
The number of deaths internationally had risen to two after a person died from the virus in Hong Kong, following the death of a Chinese man from Wuhan in the Philippines on Sunday.
Queensland Health desperate to contain virus
The high infection rate has sparked fears in Australia, especially Queensland, where emergency health orders were declared a week ago.
On Tuesday morning, Health Minister Steven Miles said he needed an extension of at least three months to ensure efforts to contain the deadly virus were not stalled.
“A public health emergency order provides emergency officers appointed under the Public Health Act with wide-ranging powers to manage any health threats and keep Queenslanders safe,” he said.
“It allows emergency officers to require a person to remain at a particular place or stop a person from going to a particular place, require a person to provide an emergency officer with help when requested, and various other powers to manage public health risks.
“We need these powers to make sure if people choose not to follow the requests of our health officers that they can force them to do so.
“These are broad powers and we wouldn’t be making this law if we did not think it was necessary in these circumstances.
“But I think given the level of concern, given the advice from agencies that this is one of the fastest-spreading new viruses they have seen, the opportunity we have here to keep Queensland safe and isolated from this virus is really important.”
There would be hefty fines of $13,300 for anyone who refused to comply with an order from a designated emergency medical officer.