China-linked NSW kids asked to skip school

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says six new potential virus cases are being assessed in NSW.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says six new potential virus cases are being assessed in NSW.

Parents and caregivers in NSW have been asked to hold their children back from school if they have recently travelled to China during the coronavirus outbreak.

Children who have travelled to China in the past 14 days - the incubation period of the virus - should be kept at home, the NSW government says.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the measure was voluntary and was taken to address worries expressed by the state's schools.

"There has been some concern in the community over whether or not it is appropriate for those children who have been in China to attend our schools," Mr Hazzard told reporters on Tuesday.

"We are asking parents who have holidayed with their children in China, if they have not been back for 14 days, support the community by holding back your children."

Mr Hazzard said the government would have liked to have made the decision sooner.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the decision recognised significant community concerns about the potentially lethal virus.

"We know many in the community have wanted to see this and we are taking this step in line with community sentiment," Ms Mitchell told reporters.

"We are doing everything we can, even though the risk is low, to ensure the safety of our children."

Some NSW private schools had earlier advised students who have travelled to China or been in contact with anyone who has been in China in the past fortnight to stay home.

A family of four and six others who were being tested for coronavirus in NSW were on Tuesday morning cleared but six new cases are under investigation.

There have been four confirmed cases of the potentially deadly virus in NSW.

A 21-year-old UNSW student became the fourth case in NSW and fifth in Australia after she tested positive on Monday.

The woman flew into Sydney Airport on Thursday on the last Australian-bound direct flight out of the central Chinese city of Wuhan - the epicentre of the outbreak.

The student and three men who previously tested positive are being treated at Sydney's Westmead Hospital.

All four people had either travelled to Wuhan or had contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus in China

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath.

Australian Associated Press