Virus breakthrough as two Queenslanders test positive

TWO Queenslanders who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive to the new coronavirus tonight after being evacuated to Howard Springs, outside of Darwin.

The two women, who are not related, are expected to be flown from Darwin to a Brisbane hospital for treatment during the weekend.

Both in their fifties, they were among 164 Australian citizens and permanent residents evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess in Japan on Thursday, and flown to Darwin.

A South Australian woman and a Western Australian have also tested positive to COVID-19 since arriving in the Northern Territory after spending more than two weeks in isolation on the Diamond Princess in Japan.

 

The latest cases come as a University of Queensland team tonight announced a "key milestone" in their research to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, in December.

In just three weeks, the UQ team has created a vaccine candidate in the laboratory.

In a statement, UQ said that "following final verification the researchers will move immediately into critical preclinical testing".

UQ Vice-Chancellor Peter Hoj said extensive testing would be needed to ensure the vaccine candidate was safe and created an effective immune response.

UQ said the group continued to work to a much-accelerated time table to keep on track for testing in humans after the middle of the year.