A real estate agency in Adelaide has temporarily closed and staff are in self-imposed quarantine after finding out South Australia’s two confirmed coronavirus victims attended one of their auctions in the last fortnight.
Staff at Ray White Real Estate in Dulwich have posted a sign in the window of their office on Dulwich Ave to advise customers they will be closed until Thursday, when they will reassess.
The business was contacted by federal health authorities on Monday in regards to an auction held at 4 Pam St in Firle, in Adelaide’s northeast, at 6.30pm on January 22.
“Australian Government Department of Health has advised that two people who were in attendance have subsequently tested positive for Coronavirus,” the notice reads.
“According to the advice … we have elected to close the office to minimise any risk to our customers or the public until Thursday the 6th February.”
The infected couple arrived on a flight from southern China the day before the auction.
Ray White head of marketing Lisa Pennell told news.com.au there were 16 registered bidders at the auction, 10 or so onlookers and agency staff including the auctioneer and sales agent.
She said they were asked to provide a list of the attendees to the World Health Organisation who would be contacting the individuals.
“We made the decision fairly quickly and everybody went home yesterday,” she said on Tuesday of the temporary closure.
“We don’t believe the risk is significant but we’ve taken that step.
“All of our staff are feeling fine. They’re all in self-imposed quarantine at this time.”
Ms Pennell said two staff took themselves to be tested but were not exhibiting any symptoms.
She said health authorities had advised the quarantine period “from that initial exposure” expires on Thursday.
“We would expect to know at that point if there is any possible issue,” Ms Pennell said.
She noted the coronavirus situation has attracted “hysteria” and didn’t want to add to any “hypersensitivity”.
“In any instance where there is a transmittable disease, it’s always a good idea to stay away from people who may be infected,” she said.
NOVEL CORONAVIRUS DOWN UNDER
There have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia so far including the two people in South Australia.
The man and woman in their 60s remain in a stable condition in isolation at the Royal Adelaide Hospital after tests confirmed the presence of the virus.
SA medical authorities said it was now known that one of the patients was showing symptoms while aboard China Southern Airlines flight CZ663. It was initially thought that neither were showing symptoms on the flight from Guangzhou in southern China, arriving on January 21.
“Anybody who was on this flight is encouraged to contact the communicable disease branch of SA Health and discuss whether or not they have developed symptoms themselves,” chief medical officer Nicola Spurrier said on Monday.
“We will be trying to make contact with as many people on that flight as possible, particularly people who were situated close to these two cases.”
It was also confirmed two people showing symptoms were taken from a domestic flight that arrived in Adelaide from interstate on Monday and would be tested for coronavirus.
In a separate incident, Adelaide couple David and Judy Holst are among up to 2000 people stranded on a cruise ship in the South China Sea after it was refused entry to the Philippines following the country’s first recorded coronavirus death.
The first Australian citizens to be evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, considered the epicentre of the pneumonia-like illness, arrived on Christmas Island last night.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday afternoon said Prime Minister Scott Morrison “had instructed consultation to begin with the Chinese authorities” on a potential second Australian-assisted departure from Wuhan to Australia.
“I can say that the Chinese have been extremely cooperative,” Mr Hunt said in Canberra.
“If approved, that second Australian flight would continue to prioritise the departure of the most vulnerable and isolated Australians in Wuhan and the broader Hubei province, in particular, the young infants, the elderly, and family members.”
AUSTRALIAN CASES BY THE NUMBERS – FEBRUARY 4, 2020
• Four in New South Wales
• Four in Victoria
• Two in Queensland
• Two in South Australia
Mr Hunt said three of those in NSW “are cleared of the virus and have been discharged”.
“Australian health authorities continue to test any people who show symptoms of the virus,” the Department of Health said in a statement. Its latest coronavirus update is available here.