A Chinese national charged with serious drink-driving offences has sparked Coronavirus fears after a court learned he ought to have been in quarantine.
Qungli Wen, 24, of Balwyn North was supposed to front Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Thursday charged with drink-driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
But Magistrate John Bentley was startled when he learned the reason why the accused man was not in court.
Qungli Wen, 24, of Balwyn North was supposed to be in quarantine but came into Melbourne to face court only to be told to stay away
A pedestrian wearing a face mask uses a mobile phone as she walks past a display promoting the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo
Passengers wearing protective face masks arrive at the Hongqiao railway station in Shanghai
High profile criminal lawyer George Balot said he was worried his client may have been infected with Coronavirus.
It came just hours after fears emerged in the United States that the virus was spreading from unknown origins.
'I didn't want him in court,' Mr Balot said. 'I didn't even shake his hand.'
Mr Balot asked his client be excused from the courtroom out of fears he may be contaminated.
He said Wen had been ordered to remain in home detention upon arriving back into Australia from an area 'close to mainland China'.
'He's next door in a cafe,' Mr Balot told the court.
'I hope it's not a crowded one,' Mr Bentley responded.
Coronavirus cases in the US have now risen to 60.
The 60 includes 42 passengers who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three people repatriated from China and 15 on US soil.
Coronavirus - or COVID-19 - is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus.
Symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia.
While some people recover easily, others may get extremely sick very quickly.
Australian authorities have declared they are taking a 'rings of containment' approach to limiting the virus by trying to contain any confirmed cases to individuals, families or affected units.
More than 3000 people have been tested for Coronavirus in Australia.
There have only been 15 cases confirmed in the general population, all of whom have now cleared the condition.
Doctors have warned there is evidence that it spreads from person to person, with good hygiene helping to prevent infection.
Both the federal and state governments have powers to force people to enter quarantine if they won't do so voluntarily.
High profile criminal lawyer George Balot had serious concerns about allowing his client into the packed court house
Qungli Wen had been on a business trip to China when he got caught up in the Coronavirus outbreak
Qungli Wen was more than double the legal limit when he slammed his car into another vehicle and drove off
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is considering whether to relax the current ban on people entering Australia from China for university students.
But authorities have warned they could cancel events with major crowds, such as AFL games, but only as a last resort, if the virus situation escalates.
The court heard Wen was the director of a large Chinese real estate business that employed up to 150 people.
In January last year he was arrested after he ran his car into another vehicle just outside of Melbourne's CBD.
The victim's vehicle was trashed and when police breath tested Wen he recorded a 0.115 blood alcohol content.
Mr Balot said his client has been living in Australia on a business visa and had hoped to apply for permanent residency.
"Well that's a great way to go about it,' Mr Bentley snapped.
But the magistrate showed mercy to the potentially doomed boozer by not recording a conviction against his name.
Instead he put him off the roads for 16 months and fined him $1000.
With time already served, Wen will be back behind the wheel in about two months.