Coronavirus fears for Aussie girl quarantined on Christmas Island

Medical staff working on Christmas Island where Australians are being held under quarantine have called for a child’s samples to be urgently checked amid fears the girl could be positive for the deadly coronavirus.

The samples, which are the first to be sent to mainland Australia for testing, belong to a young girl, Nine reported.

She was one of more than 200 Australian evacuees from Wuhan, the Chinese city which is the epicentre of the virus.

Her sample was reportedly sent off on a plane on Friday with results to be confirmed within 24 to 48 hours.

AUSMAT staff prepare for the arrival of an Australian evacuee flight on Christmas Island on Thursday. Source: AAP

A second flight is on its way to extract Australians from China but with Christmas Island unable to house another couple of hundred evacuees, they will be sent to the Manigurr-ma Village at Howard Springs, 30 kilometres east of Darwin.

The Qantas plane took off on Friday afternoon for Hong Kong where it will stop over before flying on to Wuhan.

The flight is expected to arrive in Darwin on Saturday, according to a joint statement from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy.

Passengers will be assessed on arrival and anyone found to be unwell will be taken directly to hospital where they will be quarantined, the statement said on Friday.

The evacuees will be taken to Howard Springs after the government was told the Christmas Island detention centre currently housing about 270 evacuees could not properly segregate the next group.

Evacuees are seen in the Christmas Island Australian Immigration Detention Centre on Friday. There is no suggestion any of these children have coronavirus. Source: AAP

Prof Murphy said those staying at the Howard Springs facility were unlikely to become infectious and their health would be closely monitored.

"It is important people living in and around Howard Springs know the novel coronavirus can only be transmitted by close contact with an infectious person and cannot be spread through the air," he said.

"The health and safety of the Howard Springs community is of paramount importance and I am confident the security and public health measures put in place will prevent any risk to the community's health."

Meanwhile, anxiety is growing among about 200 Australians forced into quarantine as the virus continues to spread on their cruise ship, which is docked at Yokohama in Japan.

Australians are among a further 41 people aboard the Diamond Princess to test positive for the virus, taking the total to 61 cases.

Five Australians are among another 41 people on a cruise liner off Japan to test positive for the virus. Source: AAP

"A number of additional cases have been confirmed amongst the Australians on that vessel, which is up in Japan and they are getting consular support," Scott Morrison said in Townsville.

About 3700 people remain on the ship and face a fortnight in quarantine, with 171 tests on passengers still pending.

The virus has killed 638 people and infected more than 31,000.

There are now 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia: five in Queensland, four each in NSW and Victoria and two in South Australia.

– With AAP

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