Australian child falls ill with suspected coronavirus while in quarantine on Christmas Island

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An Australian child has fallen ill with suspected coronavirus while being held in quarantine on Christmas Island.

The youngster is now being tested for the deadly disease after developing flu-like symptoms. 

Samples were sent to the Australian mainland yesterday for urgent tests, as the child’s family face a anxious wait.

Results are expected to be available within the next 24-48 hours.

There are currently 15 cases of coronavirus identified in Australia, and more than 30,000 worldwide.

The respiratory virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 600 people.  

There are now 278 evacuees being kept in quarantine on Christmas Island after being rescued from the disease-stricken city.

But many refused to go to the controversial detention centre, fearing it would not have the appropriate medical facilities. 

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, told reporters on Saturday afternoon the child has been isolated on the island.

‘It could be all sorts of other things, we don’t have a test positive at this point, but there is a young woman with a child that has developed symptoms that could be coronavirus,’ Professor Kelly said.

‘I won’t go into details for privacy reasons, but the person is well, it is certainly not a serious illness at this stage.

‘They have been further isolated from other people that are on the island, and the appropriate steps of infection control and indeed medical care are being taken.’  

Reports suggest tensions are becoming increasingly fraught on the island, with evacuees rowing over food.

‘People tended to run for what they like,’ Sydney father-of-two Yan Zhang told the Australian. 

‘I have told people today that they must be on a queue to pick up food, and only pick up what they can eat in one time, not store food in their rooms.’

Some frightened residents are understood to be hoarding food, with reports of a ‘frenzy’ after an army officer delivered some strawberries.   

Another set of Australian citizens are expected to be evacuated from the disease-stricken city on Saturday evening, and will be taken to a camp near Darwin. 

Christmas Island is unable to house any more evacuees, after receiving a smaller batch of 35 who were rescued aboard an Air New Zealand flight.

The flight was due to leave Wuhan on Saturday morning, but was blocked in the eleventh hour by Chinese officials and told it could not fly. 

Roughly 260 Australians had gone to the airport to take the rescue flight but were sent away.

Australian officials have since rescheduled the flight for 3.15am Sydney time on Sunday morning. 

The passengers will be screened five times for the virus, once before they leave China, twice on the flight, then at the RAAF Base in Darwin and again when they arrive at the quarantine site.

Anyone displaying symptoms will then be taken to hospital and quarantined.

The rest of the passengers will still spend two weeks in quarantine in the unused workers camp at Howard Springs.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the citizens were unlikely to become infectious but would be carefully monitored.  

The $600 million Manigurr-ma accomodation village is 30km south of Darwin, and boasts a 50-seat cinema and a swimming pool.

Patients can while away their time in the library, or get some exercise at the beach volleyball court, cardio and spin room or 2,700 metre running track.

The sprawling site has 875 villas, with 3,500 ensuite bedrooms. 

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