Matildas headed for deadly virus outbreak
CONCERN is growing over the rapid spread of a deadly and mysterious virus centred on the Chinese city where the Matildas are due to kick off their Olympic qualifying campaign in 13 days' time.
World health chiefs are poised to declare the spread of the so-called coronavirus as an international emergency this week, after three people died and more than 200 have been infected.
But Chinese football bosses reportedly have no plans to stop Sam Kerr and her teammates from travelling to the area, failing to move the Olympic qualifying games due to be staged in the city at the heart of the outbreak.
The mystery virus emerged in the city of Wuhan last month, where the Asian Football Confederation is about to play the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic women's football tournament.
Officials from Football Federation Australia have been in constant contact with Australian diplomats in China since the outbreak of the disease, which has been linked to the SARS virus that killed 750 people across the world in 2003.
But China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted a source at the Chinese Football Association as saying there were currently no plans to move the games.
The new epidemic is a unique strain that originally was believed to have emerged in a seafood market in Wuhan.
It has been identified as a coronavirus, one that is communicated from animals to humans, but after recent cases it has now been confirmed by Chinese health officials as moving between humans.
The outbreak has spread to countries beyond China, while in Wuhan itself, temperature-checking machines have been set up around the city for residents to test themselves for feverish symptoms.
Headed by Samantha Kerr, who opened her goalscoring account for new team Chelsea at the weekend, the Matildas are due to play Taiwan on February 3, Thailand three days later, and China on February 9, all at the Five Rings Sports Centre in Wuhan.
The team will have its own chef and a beefed-up security presence, but is likely to have rely at least in part on local produce.
FFA and the players' association have been approached for comment.
Watch every 2019/20 Westfield W-League game LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >