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China women’s football team quarantined in Australia over virus

China’s women’s football team – seen here at the Women’s World Cup in France in 2019 – have been confined to their hotel in Australia because of fears over the new coronavirus © AFP/File / Pascal GUYOT

BRISBANE, Australia, Jan 29 – China’s women’s football team has been quarantined in a Brisbane hotel over fears about the deadly coronavirus after arriving for an Olympic qualifying competition, reports said Wednesday.

Queensland state chief health officer Jeannette Young said no one from the group, reportedly 32-strong including officials and staff, had shown any symptoms and that the quarantine was a precautionary measure.

“There is absolutely no risk to anyone else in that hotel or to the staff in that hotel, these people are all well,” she was quoted as saying by broadcaster ABC.

“(The team have) been extremely cooperative, as has the Chinese consulate.”

“If any of these footballers develop any symptoms we will of course be taking them immediately to one of our hospitals… to be immediately assessed and tested and isolated,” she added.

Reports said the team arrived in Australia via Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak and where the Olympic qualifying tournament was originally due to be held.

The event, which also involves Australia, Taiwan and Thailand, was on Sunday shifted out of China to Sydney, with matches scheduled to be played next week.

China’s football association said four players, including Wuhan-based star midfielder Wang Shuang, had been forced to miss the trip because they were in quarantine at home, although none was showing symptoms of the coronavirus.

It added that the team had been tested for the virus and “the results were all negative”.

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In a statement Wednesday, Australian football chiefs said ticket sales had been halted after advice from medical experts that they believe the virus is contagious before people show symptoms.

It said it was working with the government and the Asian Football Confederation “to explore the ramifications of this advice and how it may affect the staging of the women’s Olympic Football qualifiers”.

The virus, which is believed to have originated in a market trading in wild animals in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected nearly 6,000 people in China and killed more than 130.

Australian health officials earlier Wednesday said a 60-year-old man had been diagnosed with the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to six.

All six have received medical treatment and are said to be in a stable condition. There have so far been no confirmed cases in Australia of human-to-human transmission.

Also on Wednesday, Australia announced plans to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan and Hubei province and quarantine them for 14 days for 14 days on Christmas Island, which is normally used to detain asylum-seekers.

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