‘I don’t wanna die’: Fearful Australian students refuse to go back to class after Chinese girl, 21, was diagnosed with coronavirus on campus

  • A 21-year-old Chinese UNSW student tested positive to the virus on Monday
  • She isolated herself in dorm room after getting symptoms, then went to hospital
  • UNSW students are now afraid they will catch the virus when they go to class 
  • So far four people in NSW and two in Victoria have caught the deadly disease 

Students at a Sydney university where a classmate was diagnosed with coronavirus say they are too afraid to go back to class.

The 21-year-old Chinese student was diagnosed with the deadly virus earlier this week after she flew back from Wuhan on January 23.

She isolated herself in her dorm room at the University of NSW when she developed flu-like symptoms after getting off the plane and went to hospital the next day.

Six people in Australia have been diagnosed and at least another another 16 suspected cases are being tested to confirm.

A 21-year-old Chinese student was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this week after she flew back from Wuhan on January 23 

Coronavirus has killed 103 people and infected more than 6,000 around the world so far, and the government plans to evacuate 600 Australians trapped in Wuhan.

UNSW students reacted with shock as the news of their classmate’s infection spread and were fearful that they could be next, especially when thousands of Chinese students return to campus.

Hundreds on social media said they planned to skip classes, insist on doing their courses online, or take the semester off entirely.

Others begged the university to postpone orientation week, which begins on February 10, and the start of classes a week later.

‘Please cancel I don’t wanna die at UNSW,’ one student wrote.

‘Well I guess I’m just going to defer this semester,’ another wrote.

Students at the University of NSW where a classmate was diagnosed with coronavirus say they are too afraid to go back to class

Emma Wei, from Melbourne, is trapped in Wuhan with her two children amid China’s lockdown



Four people in NSW have been diagnosed with coronavirus, including three men and one woman.

January 25

  • Three men aged 43, 53, and 35 who had recently travelled to China are confirmed to have contracted the disease.
  • Two flew in from Wuhan while the other arrived in Sydney from Shenzhen, south China.
  • They are being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital and are in stable condition.

January 27

  • A 21-year-old woman is identified as the fourth person to test positive for the illness in NSW.
  • The woman, a student at UNSW, flew into Sydney International Airport on flight MU749 on January 23 and presented to the emergency department 24 hours later after developing flu-like symptoms.
  • She is being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital.


January 25

  • A Chinese national aged in his 50s becomes the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Australia.
  • The man flew to Melbourne on China Southern flight CZ321 from Wuhan via Guangzhou on January 19.
  • He is now in quarantined isolation at Monash Hospital in Clayton in Melbourne’s east.

January 29

  • A Victorian man in his 60s is diagnosed with the coronavirus.
  • He became unwell on January 23 – two days after returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
  • The man was confirmed as positive on January 29 and was subsequently seen by doctors at the Monash Medical Centre. He was assessed as being well enough to stay at home.

Australia has raised the travel alert level to ‘do not travel’ for the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – and for the entire Hubei province. 

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says unless people have contact with someone who is unwell and has come from that part of China, there is no need for current concern.

Some students planned to still study, but called for them to be allowed to take their classes online to avoid campus during the coronavirus crisis.

‘They should have an online only option, don’t wanna get sick,’ one wrote, while another said ‘surely they are getting rid of all compulsory classes?’

Parents and friends also expressed concern, some warning students against setting foot on the Randwick complex.

‘I would be concerned about my child going to that uni, who else has been infected! This is the scary part!’ one mother wrote.

Another added: ‘Now I can start to worry again my grand daughter has stared her first day of classes.’

NSW Health said the student was being treated in isolation at Westmead Hospital and only had limited contact with people in Australia – reducing the likelihood that she had spread the virus.  

‘The student did not attend any classes at the university and stayed on her own in campus accommodation with no close contact before she was admitted to hospital,’ UNSW said in an email to students.

Students expressed frustration that the university did not specify which campus accommodation the student was staying in and would not tell them.

Photos taken outside Westmead Hospital on Sunday showed a young woman wearing a face mask being moved by paramedics with protective gloves, masks and clothing.

Health authorities are now working to track down people the woman came into contact with and potentially infected. 

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said test results for the most recent 16 cases are expected by Wednesday afternoon, and will be shared with the public. 

All 16 patients, 10 men and six women, who are believed to be carrying the virus are in isolation awaiting their test results. 

Their ages range from just two years old through to 66. 

‘The fact we have 16 cases under investigation just reflects that we’ve broadened our testing… to focus on the Hubei province not just Wuhan and any contacts of confirmed cases,’ Dr Chant told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

‘That is to detect any cases and take a very precautionary approach. We’re also increasingly realising the disease profile can be quite varying.’ 

‘We want to get the message out there that even people with low-level symptoms should come forward,’ Dr Chant said. 

The state has so far tested more than 40 people. 

Five people have the virus after returning from China’s Hubei province, where coronavirus first surfaced in December. All are being treated in hospital and in a stable condition.

About 400 Australian citizens have registered for evacuation from the city of Wuhan in Hubei.

At this stage, health authorities do not believe people can pass on coronavirus unless they are showing symptoms, but the virus does have a relatively long incubation period of two weeks.


* Federal advice to school students who have returned to Australia from China is that if they are healthy, it is reasonable for them to attend school. If they have been in contact with somebody with coronavirus, they should not attend school for up to 14 days.

* But some Australian private schools have told students who have recently visited China to stay at home for a fortnight. Brisbane’s Stuartholme School for girls will keep 10 of its boarders in quarantine for two weeks after they arrived from China this week.


* Four confirmed cases are being treated at Westmead Hospital: a 21-year-old University of NSW student who was diagnosed after flying back from the virus epicentre in Wuhan, and three men aged 35, 43 and 53.

* Six potential cases are being assessed.


* One confirmed case, a man in his 50s, is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family are under home isolation.

A sixth case was confirmed on Wednesday. 

* Thirteen people have been tested, but authorities do not believe they are likely to have the virus.

* 42 Victorians have tested negative. 


* Six people tested, awaiting results.

* One person tested and cleared. 


* Four people tested and cleared.


* Four people tested negative.


* A women in her 20s who recently travelled to China is being tested for coronavirus in Launceston after becoming unwell.

* A man was discharged from hospital on Sunday after testing negative.


* Some 132 people have died from the virus in China

* The number of confirmed cases in China is 5974.

* In Thailand, which the worst affected country outside of China, the death toll is currently 14.

* The infection has also spread to most of Australia’s regional neighbours including Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and Cambodia.


* The Australian government has told its citizens to reconsider travel to China and to avoid Hubei province where the virus first appeared in December.

* There are no travel warnings yet for other destinations in the Asian region.


* Global health authorities are on alert for cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus outside China, which could speed up infection rates.

* So far this has occurred in Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.

* Higher rates of human-to-human transmission is a reflection of the adaptability of the virus, which was is believed to have initially been transmitted to humans by animals. 



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