Another four Australians evacuated from Diamond Princess test positive

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Another two people evacuated to Darwin from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for coronavirus, authorities have confirmed.

Six Australians who left the ship on Thursday have now tested positive to the disease, with the figure expected to rise as another three patients were due to be screened on Saturday.

Two people from Victoria tested positive to the infection on Saturday and will be moved to their home state’s health system.

Two Queensland women aged 54 and 55 tested positive on Friday night and will be flown to a Brisbane hospital on Saturday for further treatment.

Earlier on Friday two other Australians were confirmed to have contracted the disease.

A 78-year-old man from Western Australia was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner hospital in Perth on Friday. His wife was to travel with him but then be isolated at home for two weeks.

A 24-year-old woman from South Australia has been transferred to Royal Adelaide hospital.

Under the evacuation deal, state governments agreed to treat any patients in their home states.

“We will continue to screen every day and to have that very precautionary approach to testing and ensuring that we are picking up early, and isolating early anybody who is positive for COVID-19,” said the acting chief health officer, Dr Di Stevens.

“We do have three people who are identified overnight that will be screened and tested.”

Before the medical transfers, Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Brendan Murphy, said the patients were in a clinically “reasonable” condition.

The two were among a group of six who were suffering a sore throat and runny nose after arriving at the former workers’ camp at Howard Springs on Thursday.

The other four have been cleared of the virus, but Murphy said that could change.

“It’s possible more people could develop positive tests over the next few days,” he said on Friday. “We don’t know that, but if they do, we are completely well set up to detect and manage them and isolate them.”

There were 170 Australians on the evacuation flight. They will be quarantined at the facility near Darwin for two weeks after leaving the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama.

They are being kept separate from the 266 people already in quarantine at Howard Springs, who were evacuated earlier this month from the epicentre of the virus at Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province.

That group will leave on Sunday.

Australia has extended its ban on foreign travellers from China for another week as the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Hubei province grows.

The ban is due to end on 29 February but is under consideration by the national security committee of cabinet.

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