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Official advice on novel coronavirus outbreak

January 23, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email


The Australian Government’s Smartraveller website, provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), has issued new advice on the “novel coronavirus outbreak” which has triggered screening procedures at airports in Australia and in China’s Hubei province, where the virus was discovered in the city of Wuhan. The official advice is as follows:

There is an active outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China, originating from the Wuhan region.

This new type of coronavirus was initially linked to a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan City, in China’s Hubei Province.  The majority of reported cases are in the Wuhan region.

There have been reports of individuals with the novel coronavirus outside of China.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Initial human infections of the novel type of coronaviruses were acquired from exposure to animals at the live animal market in Wuhan, however on 20 January 2020 Chinese authorities confirmed that the novel coronavirus is spreading person-to-person, with medical workers in Wuhan confirmed to have contracted the disease from cases they had been treating. How easily the virus spreads from person-to-person remains unknown.

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Common symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Severe cases can cause pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.

What we recommend

The World Health Organization is closely monitoring the situation. As the situation in Wuhan is rapidly evolving and information about the new coronavirus is still limited, we recommend that you exercise a high degree of caution if you are travelling to Wuhan.

If you are considering travelling to any destination with detected cases of the novel coronavirus, we strongly recommend the following.

Before you travel

  • Talk to your doctor before travelling with children, if you are pregnant or have a weak immune system.
  • Read our advice about infectious diseases and medical assistance overseas before you go.
  • Read the travel advice for your destination.
  • Subscribe to your destination and our news to receive updates on the situation as they occur

During your trip

  • Avoid all:
    – high-risk areas such as farms, live animal markets, and areas where animals are slaughtered, including fish and seafood
    – contact with animals (alive or dead), including pigs, chickens, ducks and wild birds
    – surfaces with animal droppings or secretions on them
  • If you come into contact with any animals or animal products, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you have thoroughly sanitised your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, carry hand sanitiser with you and use it often
  • Keep a distance from sick people, especially if they have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing
  • Monitor your health closely
  • See a health care professional immediately if you start feeling unwell
  • Follow the advice of local authorities
  • Contact your airline or travel company for information about changes to flight services.

Returning home from a destination and you feel unwell

If you feel sick while travelling or after returning to Australia you should see a doctor as a precaution, and advise them of your travel history.

If you are in a state to do so, ring ahead of time so your doctor is aware of your symptoms and travel history before you book an appointment. Health authorities both in Australia and globally are closely monitoring whether or not the risk of catching novel coronavirus will change overtime.

Returning home from a destination with reported cases

Australia has well established mechanisms to respond to ill travellers at points of entry and there is no cause for alarm in Australia.

Under Australian legislation airlines must report passengers on board showing signs of an infectious disease, including fever, sweats or chills.

Planes reporting ill travellers are met on arrival by biosecurity officers who make an assessment and take necessary actions, such as isolation and referral to hospital where required.



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