News, Culture & Society

Sydney woman potentially contracts Chinese coronavirus after four cases confirmed

The deadly coronavirus has potentially infected a fifth person in Australia after a Sydney woman fell ill – as authorities scramble to evacuate 100 children trapped in ‘ground zero’.  

The 21-year-old woman tested positive to ‘probable’ coronavirus after initial swabs, with results to be confirmed on Monday.

‘Public health follow-up of this probable case is being undertaken in accordance with the national guidelines and the patient remains in isolation,’ NSW Health said on Sunday. 

It comes after three men in NSW, aged 43, 53 and 35, and one Victorian man aged in his 50s caught the deadly disease. 

The virus, which experts fear will ‘highly likely’ continue to spread in Australia, has so far killed 59 people in China and infected 2,000 people worldwide.

Since the outbreak at the end of December, Chinese authorities have placed 56 million people in lockdown – including more than 100 Australian children aged between six months and 16 years old, the ABC  reported.

A 21-year-old woman has been taken to hospital after fears she may have contracted the deadly coronavirus

The 21-year-old suspected of having the virus remains in isolation.

Photos taken outside Westmead Hospital on Sunday show a woman wearing a face mask being moved by paramedics with protective gloves, masks and clothing.

Authorities are contacting anyone who has come into contact with her. 

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said there would likely be more cases in the country.

‘There is no cause for general concern,’ Prof Murphy said in Melbourne on Sunday.

‘I would not be surprised if there are some more cases… it’s highly likely that we may see some more.

‘We are incredibly well prepared to isolate and deal with that.’ 

Emma Wei, from Melbourne, is trapped in Wuhan with her two children amid China's lockdown

Emma Wei, from Melbourne, is trapped in Wuhan with her two children amid China’s lockdown

Medical staff are seen wearing protective clothing outside a hospital in Wuhan after the coronavirus outbreak

Medical staff are seen wearing protective clothing outside a hospital in Wuhan after the coronavirus outbreak


 * Australia’s first confirmed case of coronavirus is a Chinese national in his 50s who tested positive in Melbourne on Saturday morning, after arriving on a flight from Guangzhou on January 19.

* Three more cases were confirmed on Saturday in NSW, with two people in isolation at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital  

* A fifth person, from Sydney, tested positive to ‘probable’ coronavirus after initial swabs.  

* China says the death toll has risen to 56, while more than 1,900 people have contracted the virus in the country 

* Symptoms of the respiratory illness include fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting and difficulty breathing.

* Australia has raised the travel alert level to ‘do not travel’ for the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – and for the entire Hubei province.

* Passengers arriving on all flights from China are being stopped and provided with health information including what to do if they become unwell.

* Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says unless people have contact with someone who is unwell and has come from that part of China, there is no need for current concern.   

In the wake of the rapid spread, Chinese-Australian parents are now desperate for their children to get out of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province.

Yi Xu is demanding his six-month-old daughter be brought home to Australia.

‘The Australian Government needs to follow what the US is doing [and] to charter a plane to evacuate its citizens for emergency,’ Mr Xu told the ABC after reports the U.S was using a plane to evacuate Americans from the area.  

A father from Melbourne, Nathan Wang, said his 11-month-old daughter is stuck in Wuhan with his wife and other child.

Mr Wang said his family was struggling to access medical resources. 

‘I can’t even fall asleep. As a father, I was very desperate. I am guilty that all of the risks and pressure were put on my wife alone,’ he said.

Another Chinese-Australian man said the children who were left stranded in the areas were being cared for by their grandparents.

‘They are desperate to get out, because there starts to see a shortage of face masks and other protective supplies,’ the man who only wanted to be referred to as John told The Australian.

‘Many children are running out of baby formula powders soon,’ he said. 

The Australian government is now considering options to allow Australians in the infected areas to travel.

A China Eastern Flight from Wuhan arrives at Sydney International Airport on Thursday where health authorities were screening passengers for coronavirus

A China Eastern Flight from Wuhan arrives at Sydney International Airport on Thursday where health authorities were screening passengers for coronavirus

‘The Government acknowledges the concerns of Australians who are in Hubei Province in China and the concerns of their families and friends,’ Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Sunday.


Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms.

If and when they do, typical signs include:

  • a runny nose
  • a cough
  • sore throat
  • fever (high temperature)

The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. 

Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people. 

‘The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is working closely with Chinese authorities and international partners to consider possible assistance with travel for Australians from areas that are affected by Chinese travel restrictions.

‘Given the circumstances of the spread of the Coronavirus, Chinese authorities are currently imposing very tight restrictions on all travel from Hubei. We are seeking advice from the Chinese authorities on these restrictions and whether any options are available to international travellers.

‘Our Embassy in Beijing and our Consulate in Shanghai are also working with international partners and the Chinese government to determine what support can be given to Australians on the ground.’   

Authorities are urging anyone who has travelled to the Wuhan region and experienced flu-like symptoms to contact their GP or local emergency department.  

The patient in Victoria is a Chinese national aged in his 50s who flew to Melbourne on China Southern flight CZ321 from Wuhan via Guangzhou on January 19 on an A380 plane, which can can carry 500 passengers.

A passenger wearing a protective mask (pictured) is seen at Sydney Airport on Thursday, as a man in Melbourne is confirmed as the first Australian case of coronavirus

A passenger wearing a protective mask (pictured) is seen at Sydney Airport on Thursday, as a man in Melbourne is confirmed as the first Australian case of coronavirus

He became the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Australia on Saturday morning and is now in quarantined isolation at Monash Hospital in Clayton in Melbourne’s east.

Earlier on Saturday a baby was rushed from Sydney Airport to hospital for testing and was later discharged cleared of the virus.  

A Hobart man has tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday after he was admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital on Saturday with mild respiratory symptoms.

The man in his 30s had travelled to China earlier this month and spent time Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began.

He contacted a general practitioner with respiratory problems and was admitted into an isolation room in hospital while tests were conducted to rule out the infection.

Public Health services identified the man’s contacts since returning to Hobart in case he had been identified as carrying the virus.

The man has been discharged from hospital after his results showed he was not infected. 


What is this virus?

The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.

But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.

Can it kill?

Yes. 56 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus. 

What are the symptoms?

Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.

How is it detected?

The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.

To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.

How did it start and spread?

The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.

What are countries doing to prevent the spread?

Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.

Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.

Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?

Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere 



Find local lawyers and law firms at