Boy, 8, becomes 13th coronavirus victim in Australia

·3-min read

A child who travelled with two people confirmed to have coronavirus in Queensland has become the third person in the state diagnosed with the virus, and the first child in the country.

Queensland Health chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, on Tuesday night said the eight-year-old boy, who is a Chinese national from Wuhan, was confirmed as having coronavirus.

He was travelling with the 44-year-old man and 42-year-old woman, who were diagnosed with the virus in Queensland last week.

All three are from Hubei province, which is at the epicentre of the virus in China.

The child is in a stable condition in isolation at Gold Coast University Hospital with the man and woman.

The boy, 8, is in a secure section of the hospital on the Gold Coast. Source: Getty
The boy, 8, is in a secure section of the hospital on the Gold Coast. Source: Getty

Meanwhile, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles is rushing new laws through parliament to extend his existing health emergency order from one week to three months.

The move will give health officers more time to require the quarantine or isolation of suspected coronavirus cases and force people to undergo medical checks and tests.

The bill was introduced into state parliament on Tuesday, the first sitting day of 2020.

Mr Miles wants it to pass the house by Thursday. It would remain in place for 12 months and apply solely to the novel coronavirus.

More than 400 people have been assessed for coronavirus since screening started at Brisbane International Airport on Sunday.

Thirteen cases have been confirmed across Australia so far.

Workers preparing the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Centre. The space has been converted into temporary hospitals with a total of 1,000 beds. Source: Getty
Workers preparing the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Centre. The space has been converted into temporary hospitals with a total of 1,000 beds. Source: Getty

Virus kills second person outside China

Hong Kong has reported its first coronavirus death, the second outside mainland China from a fast-spreading outbreak that has now killed at least 427 people.

Hong Kong's first fatality was a 39-year-old man with an underlying illness who had visited China's Wuhan city.

China, meanwhile, reported a record daily jump in deaths of 64 to 425. The only other death outside mainland China was a man who died in the Philippines last week after visiting Wuhan.

Total infections in mainland China rose to 20,438, and there have been nearly 200 cases elsewhere across 24 countries and China's special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand's tally of infections jumped to 25, the highest outside China, while Singapore's rose to 24, four of those from local contagion as opposed to visitors from China.

The World Health Organisation has declared the flu-like virus a global emergency and experts say much is still unknown, including its mortality rate and transmission routes.

Such uncertainties have spurred strong measures by some countries – offending Beijing's communist government which has called for calm, fact-based responses instead of scaremongering.

A masked medical staff holds a placard during the strike outside the Hospital Authority building in Hong Kong. Source: Getty
A masked medical staff holds a placard during the strike outside the Hospital Authority building in Hong Kong. Source: Getty

The deluge of misinformation on social media – from a recommendation to eat more onions to a warning of spread via a video game – has led Asian governments to hit back with 16 arrests, fines and fake news laws, alarming free speech advocates.

Thousands of medical workers in Hong Kong, which had seen months of anti-China political protests, held a second day of strikes to press for complete closure of borders with the mainland after three checkpoints were left open.

"We're not threatening the government, we just want to prevent the outbreak," said Cheng, 26, a nurse on strike.

The Asian financial centre has confirmed 17 cases.

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