Up to 200 people on board Tigerair flight with coronavirus passenger

A Chinese man with coronavirus shared a flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast with 171 others when he was sick, and four fellow travellers have already fallen ill.

Queensland health authorities are trying to track down everyone who was on the man's Tiger Airways flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on January 27.

The man, who was in a tour group from the virus epicentre Wuhan, started showing symptoms when he took the flight and steadily became more ill after arriving on the Gold Coast.

But the 44-year-old spent about 24 hours in the community before calling an ambulance and being taken to hospital where tests revealed he had the virus.

There are concerns the 150 to 200 people on the plane at the time could be infected. Source: AAP
There are concerns the 150 to 200 people on the plane at the time could be infected. Source: AAP

"There are eight other people who were in that tour group and they are all currently in isolation in the Gold Coast University Hospital. Four of them are unwell and being tested today," Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Thursday.

"We'll get those results later today. Four of them are well at this time, but we'll continue to monitor them."

While the man also spent time in Melbourne, Dr Young said she was most concerned about people who shared his flight or came into contact with him on the Gold Coast.

"My concern is the 150 to 200 people on that plane when he started getting symptoms, and then the 24 hours in the community on the Gold Coast," she said.

An offical from China told AFP the death toll from the virus had increased to 212 as of Friday, with more than 9000 cases being treated worldwide.

Dr Young said anyone who spent two hours or more exposed to an infectious person in a confined space could be at risk. The flight time from Melbourne to the Gold Coast is about two hours.

She said she did not know where the man was staying but media reports say it was in large, high-rise accommodation at Broadbeach.

The man came from Wuhan and flew to Melbourne via Singapore, landing there on January 22 and then heading to the Gold Coast on January 27.

Tiger Airways says it's in the process of contacting affected passengers and crew members, and would direct them to see their doctors.

In a statement, Tiger Air’s group medical officer Dr Sara Souter said the airline is now working closely with Queensland Health.

The 44-year-old went 24 hours before seeking medical attention. Source: Getty Images
The 44-year-old went 24 hours before seeking medical attention. Source: Getty Images

“The passenger was travelling with one other person on their booking,” Dr Souter said.

“Based on medical advice we have received, the risk of contracting coronavirus is low for passengers who travelled on this aircraft in subsequent days. However, we have taken the precautionary measure of cleaning this aircraft today.

“The safety of our passengers and our crew is always our number one priority and we will continue to work closely with Queensland Health on this matter.”

She added the airline has provided Queensland Health contact details for all passengers on the flight.

The crew have also been made aware and staff provided with “updates on coronavirus and prevention measures”.

Anyone who was on the flight has also been urged to call Queensland Health to ensure they take the safest and most appropriate action.

Meanwhile, there's no sign of illness in China's women's soccer team who will remain holed up in a Brisbane hotel until Wednesday to ensure they are not carrying the virus.

The group of 32 players and staff, who travelled from Wuhan, have been confined to their hotel rooms as a precaution.

The team had been due to open the Olympic qualifying tournament against Thailand in Sydney on Monday.

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