NSW authorities are expected within hours to confirm the fifth Australian case of the deadly coronavirus, but the federal health minister says inbound flights from China will not yet be suspended.
NSW authorities are expected to confirm on Monday the country’s fifth case of the deadly coronavirus.
NSW Health on Sunday said that a patient had preliminarily tested positive to the virus and was undergoing further examination.
They have already been isolated in hospital and authorities were seeking to track down people who have been in close contact with the person in recent weeks.
“Public health follow-up of this probable case is being undertaken in accordance with the national guidelines and the patient remains in isolation,” NSW Health said in a statement.
They said they expected to confirm their diagnosis on Monday after on Sunday clearing four patients who had undergone testing.
Three patients in NSW and one in Victoria have already been diagnosed with the virus after an outbreak centred in the Chinese city of Wuhan which has spread across the world.
Three men aged 35, 43, and 53 are being treated in a Sydney hospital but are listed as being stable and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Sunday said he was pleased with their progress.
Authorities have now spoken to all but two people who have been in close contact with the three men since they arrived from China.
“There are a small number of people we’re still trying to contact but substantially we have made contact,” NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
In Victoria, a man in his 50s is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family members are being quarantined at home.
A further 11 patients are now awaiting test results.
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said authorities were attempting to contact four people who may have come into contact with the Victorian patient after sharing the same flight.
“If these people are unwell, we will assess them for coronavirus,” Dr Young said.
There have been zero reports of the virus in Queensland after six patients all tested negative on Sunday.
However, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government would not yet move to suspend flights from China, nor screen every passenger on board.
“Every flight is being met by officials, and officials I’m advised, will be boarding the flights and ensuring each individual who has travelled on those flights is directly receiving information,” Mr Hunt told the ABC.
“We continue to follow the advice that’s being updated every day.”
Last week the federal government confirmed it had a stockpile of more than 10 million masks, despite dipping into the haul to distribute 3.5 million P2 masks to fire zones.
As health authorities work to track down local cases of coronavirus, the federal government is working with Chinese authorities to get Australians in affected areas home.
The ability of the coronavirus to spread is getting stronger and infections could continue to rise, according to China’s National Health Commission, prompting fears of more deaths.
Globally, more than 2,000 people have been infected while 56 have died in China. National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei, speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, said knowledge of the virus was limited.
Ma said the incubation period for the coronavirus can range from one to 14 days, and that the virus is infectious during incubation, which was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.
Containment efforts, which have thus far included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events, will be intensified, Ma told a crowded news briefing on the second day of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.
President Xi Jinping said during a politburo meeting on Saturday that China was facing a “grave situation”, as health authorities around the world scrambled to prevent a pandemic.
On Sunday, China announced a nationwide ban on the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms. Wild and often poached animals packed together in Chinese markets are blamed as incubators for viruses to evolve and jump the species barrier to humans.
Snakes, peacocks, crocodiles and other species can also be found for sale via Taobao, an e-commerce website run by Alibaba.