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China’s coronavirus reaches Australia with four confirmed cases

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Three cases have been confirmed in New South Wales after Victorian officials confirmed a Chinese national who flew into Melbourne a week ago has coronavirus.

NSW Health Minister for Health Brad Hazzard has confirmed three cases of coronavirus in New South Wales.

“The community needs to understand that it is being well handled in concert with the state and territories, and the Commonwealth government,” he said. 

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said that two of the three cases involved men who had returned to Australia on the 6 and 9 January.

“We are taking this in a very precautionary way. We are contacting many people and we don’t want them to be unduly alarmed. It is about early protection.”

“The patients are not seriously unwell. We are encouraging people to come forward and get diagnosed.”

She said the health system and public health response is “robust”, saying that cases have been quickly reported and tests conducted. 

It comes after Victorian health officials confirmed Australia’s first case of the deadly coronavirus.

The respiratory condition has been confirmed in a man who arrived from China last week, Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said.

The Chinese man aged in his 50s tested positive for the virus on Saturday after visiting a GP on Thursday and going to hospital on Friday.

“There is no reason for alarm in the general community,” Ms Mikakos said.

The man had been in Wuhan, the city of 11 million people and the epicentre of the outbreak, before catching a flight to Melbourne from Guangzhou on January 19.

Two ‘probable’ cases in NSW

Two “probable” cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in NSW, the
state’s health authority has confirmed.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the two men, aged between 30 and 60, were not particularly unwell but were being kept in hospital.

Seven people are currently being investigated and tested to see if they have the virus.

Two others cleared on Friday.

Meanwhile, four people in South Australia are undergoing tests as a precaution but authorities say the likelihood they actually have the condition is low.

In Queensland five people – including three from the Gold Coast – tested
negative for the virus on Saturday, with four others given an all-clear earlier in the week.

Authorities are waiting for test results of one further possible case.

In Tasmania, a man in his 30s who travelled to Wuhan this month is being tested for the virus in Royal Hobart Hospital.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade overnight raised the level of travel advice for Wuhan and Hubei province to “do not travel”. The disease is listed as having “pandemic potential”, allowing border measures to be enhanced.

Passengers arriving on all flights from China are being stopped and given health information about the virus, its symptoms and what to do if they become unwell.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said it was important for people arriving from Wuhan – and those in close contact with them – to monitor for symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting and difficulty breathing.

Experts are still learning about the virus.

“We don’t know exactly how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected but there is an incubation period and some patients will have very mild symptoms,” Prof Murphy said.

China has confirmed 41 deaths from the virus, while more than 1000 people are now estimated to have been affected worldwide. Cases have been confirmed in 10 countries.

Federal and state chief medical officers held joint discussions on Saturday with health ministers expected to do the same.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the confirmation of a case in Australia had been anticipated and procedures are in place to manage the situation.

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