A Chinese man with coronavirus who recently arrived in Australia shared a flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast with up to 200 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 TT566 from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on Jan. 27.
He had started to exhibit symptoms of the potentially deadly virus at the time he took the flight, and got steadily sicker 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.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says eight other people were in a tour group with the man, and four of them are sick.
“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,” she told reporters in Brisbane.
“We’ll get those results later today. Four of them are well at this time, but will continue to monitor them.”
While the man spent time in Melbourne too, Dr. Young said she was most concerned about the 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.
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—the Chinese city at the epicentre of the virus outbreak—and flew to Melbourne via Singapore, landing there on Jan. 22 and then heading to the Gold Coast on Jan. 27.
Tiger Airways says it’s in the process of contacting affected passengers and crew members, and would direct them to see their doctors.
“The safety of our passengers and our crew is always our number one priority and we are working closely with the Queensland Health department on this matter,” the airline said in a statement.
Anyone who was on the flight has also be urged to call Queensland Health to ensure they take the safest and most appropriate action.
Important health alert
Passengers on Tiger Airways flight TT566 arriving on the Gold Coast in the evening of 27 January 2020 are urged to contact 13 HEALTH for advice.
— Steven Miles (@StevenJMiles) January 30, 2020
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 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Qualifiers with a match against Thailand in Sydney on Monday.
Ticket sales for the tournament have now been suspended, throwing the Olympic campaign of The Matildas, Australia’s national women’s side, into turmoil.