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UQ student diagnosed with virus despite Dubai detour

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Travel bans are being reviewed after a Brisbane student came down with the coronavirus despite spending 14 days in a “safe” country en route from China to Australia.

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Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young revealed the man’s diagnosis today as, globally, the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 continued to increase.

As recommended by authorities, the man spent at least 14 days in Dubai – a major travel hub – before entering Australia, via Brisbane, on February 23. He became sick on February 25 and is now in isolation in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Young said Queensland Health would conduct contact tracing, starting with the man’s housemate in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong – they are both students at the nearby University of Queensland – and going back to wherever he contracted the coronavirus.

“Our contact tracing methods are tried and trusted and we will take every opportunity to raise awareness of this case in the community if there has been any community exposure,” she said.

A university spokeswoman said the man was not believed to have visited any campuses after arriving in Brisbane.

Despite early travel restrictions on China, the source of the outbreak, there have now been ten people in Queensland with COVID-19, including three people from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship.

The most recent case, a 63-year-old woman who recently returned from Iran, remains in isolation in a stable condition at Gold Coast University Hospital.

That case prompted travel restrictions on people returning from Iran and Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said the broader threat was being reviewed to take into account higher-risk groups from certain nations.

“We will keep looking at it each and every day,” Morrison said, with 75 countries now affected.

Morrison said the government was speaking with aged care operators and indigenous communities who were likely to be at greater risk. He had also spoken with supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles but, amid reports of panic buying, urged people to “go about your business as normal”.

Young said, “the best weapon the community can deploy against the virus is hand-washing”.

“Washing your hands properly and often means that you can help prevent viruses from entering your body,” she said.

Her federal counterpart, Federal Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, said suggestions that people should avoid kissing, shaking hands or mass gatherings should be taken most seriously by people who are normally at greater risk of infection.

Meanwhile, Morrison said Treasury was working to provide a “boost that we believe will be necessary” for the economy, however it would be targeted, measured and scalable.

“We will ensure that we do not make the same mistakes of previous stimulus measures that have been put in place,” he said.

“This health crisis, with significant economic implications, is different from a global financial crisis.”

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