A coronavirus outbreak sweeping through China and around the world has the potential to become a pandemic in Australia – where five cases have been confirmed and several more are expected to emerge.
About 400 Australian citizens remain trapped in the Hubei province, the epicentre of the deadly outbreak which has killed 106 people and infected more than 4,000.
More than 11million people are reportedly stranded and unable to travel in or out of the region as China stepped up preventive measures to limit its spread.
The virus, which belongs to the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), has spread to 15 countries, with Sri Lanka and Cambodia the latest to announce cases on Tuesday. A second diagnosed case was also announced in Canada.
No deaths have been reported outside of China so far.
The coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic in Australia, health officials have warned. On Tuesday, paramedics completely covered in decontamination gear were called to a luxury Gold Coast hotel after receiving reports a guest had been exhibiting symptoms of the potential fatal disease
Police were seen arriving at the scene to assist Queensland Ambulance Service.
Paramedics wearing Hazmat suits arrived at Peppers, on Elizabeth Street, Broadbeach, to reports of a suspected coronavirus case on Tuesday
Five people are being treated in Australian hospitals for the virus but Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said they were all in a stable condition.
Health Minister Greg Hunt warned the disease is of ‘pandemic potential’ and the number of cases in the country is expected to rise as more are tested every day.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms.
If and when they do, typical signs include:
- a runny nose
- a cough
- sore throat
- fever (high temperature)
The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia.
Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
‘There are a number of cases being considered in each of the states and territories, those numbers will literally change by the hour because some will be cleared and others will be tested,’ he told Sky News.
‘We do believe that there is a potential for further cases to be identified and therefore, to be announced. At this stage, the latest advice is that all five patients are being treated in isolation and all are stable and being well cared for.
‘We have some of the strongest border protection measures in place around the world and we have biosecurity officials boarding all planes from China looking for symptoms.
‘The Prime Minister has ordered all planes coming from China are boarded by security officials and that’s an extremely important measure.
‘Every passenger is met with by biosecurity officials and not only are they provided with information, but there is a review of their symptoms and the situation.’
Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a travel warning on Wednesday, advising Australians to stay away from Hubei.
Minister Hunt said department officials are making ‘significant progress’ in finding a way for the Australians stuck in China to get home.
‘They are being crosschecked to ensure there is no double-counting because sometimes you will have multiple family members report the same person, but at this stage, approximately 400 registrations have been placed with Foreign Affairs.’
On Tuesday, Western Australia was given the all-clear for the deadly coronavirus but public schools will take extra precautions to keep students safe.
The state government on Tuesday confirmed four adult patients who were being closely monitored had tested negative to the virus.
There are no further suspected cases.
Emma Wei, from Melbourne, is trapped in Wuhan with her two children amid China’s lockdown
The family of two adults and two children were taken to Westmead Hospital in western Sydney on Monday afternoon after showing symptoms of the disease. The family was cleared Tuesday morning but six new cases are under investigation
Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath
In Queensland, paramedics were called to a suspected coronavirus case at a Gold Coast hotel resort after receiving reports a guest was showing symptoms of the virus.
CORONAVIRUS IN AUSTRALIA
- Australia’s first confirmed case of coronavirus is a Chinese national in his 50s who tested positive in Melbourne on Saturday morning, after arriving on a flight from Guangzhou on January 19.
- Three more cases were confirmed on Saturday in NSW, with two people in isolation at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.
- A fifth person, from Sydney, tested positive to ‘probable’ coronavirus after initial swabs.
- The patient was identified as a 21-year-old female student at UNSW who travelled from Wuhan to Sydney last Thursday, January 23.
- 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.
Paramedics clad from head-to-toe in decontamination suits were seen descending on Peppers Broadbeach, around 1.30pm on Tuesday.
A Queensland Ambulance Services spokesman said paramedics attended a ‘medical incident’ on Elizabeth Street and a patient was taken to Gold Coast University Hospital in a stable condition.
An ambulance source said the patient had recently returned to the Gold Coast from China and was displaying symptoms, The Gold Coast Bulletin reports.
It is believed police were present to assist with crowd control and to establish a quarantine area if required.
Two people wearing face masks were seen waiting for paramedics before escorting them into the building.
Paramedics later emerged with a man who was pictured getting into the back of an ambulance.
Queensland health tested a further six people across the state for the illness on Tuesday, all of which came back negative.
The test takes up to six hours to complete and the results of the latest patient are yet to be confirmed.
The Broadbeach division of the international hotel chain costs $911 a night for a penthouse suite with panoramic views of the ocean. The luxurious 4.5 star hotel is a hot-spot for celebrities, and is understood to have hosted popstar Taylor Swift and, then boyfriend, Tom Hiddleston in 2016.
In NSW, a family of four and six others who were being tested for coronavirus were on Tuesday morning cleared but six new cases are under investigation.
Parents and caregivers were asked to hold their children back from school if they had travelled to China in the past 14 days – the incubation period of the virus.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a travel warning on Wednesday, advising Australians to stay away from Hubei
Medical staff are seen wearing protective clothing outside a hospital in Wuhan after the coronavirus outbreak
The deadly Chinese coronavirus outbreak began at the Huanan Seafood Wholesales Market in Wuhan (pictured), tests confirm
Members of the medical team of the Second Military Medical University pose for a group photo before entering the wards at Hankou Hospital in Wuhan
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the measure was voluntary and was taken to address worries expressed by the state’s schools.
He said the government would have liked to have made the decision sooner.
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 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.
The outbreak has evoked memories of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003, another coronavirus which broke out in China and killed nearly 800 people in a global pandemic.
The deadly Chinese coronavirus outbreak began at a wholesale animal market in Wuhan city, experts confirmed.
Scientists from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said tests proved humans caught it from animals at the Huanan Seafood Wholesales Market.
It is not clear which animal was carrying the pneumonia-like illness but the market was home to stalls trading dozens of different species, including rats and wolf cubs.
The outbreak has even impacted the economy with Australian (ASX) shares plummeting by 1.7 per cent, wiping $36billion off the market amid fears the outbreak will reduce the number of tourists visiting from China.
The companies that suffered most were those that depend on tourism, travel and the Chinese economy.
China has already extended the Lunar New Year holiday to February 2 nationally, and to February 9 for Shanghai.
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can it kill?
Yes. 80 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.
To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.
What are countries doing to prevent the spread?
Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.
Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?
Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere
Human-to-human transmission of the new coronaviru