NOVEL CORONAVIRUS IN AUSTRALIA Featured

Coronavirus: 400 Australian citizens desperate to get out of Wuhan ‘ground zero’
Kaitlyn Offer and Steve Zemek
AAP
Tuesday, 28 January 2020 7:17 pm

SOURCE
7NEWS.COM.AU

The federal government is trying to deploy officials into the locked-down Chinese city of Wuhan where around 400 Australian citizens have registered for evacuation from the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus.

Australian embassy officials have met with Chinese authorities in Beijing about the options available for citizens in Wuhan.

 

“Right now, the Australian government, through our embassy, is looking to deploy, working with the Chinese government consular officials, into Hubei province, into Wuhan,” prime minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison said the National Security Committee is meeting every few days to discuss the issue as more people arrive in Australia from China.

“We’re working closely with the states and territories and we’ll continue to do that to keep Australians safe,” he said.

“But I would encourage Australians to go about their business, to understand and listen to the advice that’s being received.”

Five people are being treated in Australian hospitals for the virus after returning from visiting the region, but Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said they were all in a stable condition.

School precautions

NSW school children have been told to stay at home if they’ve returned from China within the past 14 days - the incubation period of the virus.

“We are asking parents who have holidayed with their children in China, if they have not been back for 14 days, support the community by holding back your children,” NSW health minister Brad Hazard said.

The direction from NSW is at odds with other states and federal governments which recommend students can return to school unless they’re a confirmed case of coronavirus, have been exposed to a confirmed case or have symptoms.

‘Stay away’

Some private schools around the country, however, have also told students to stay away if they’ve recently travelled to China.

Ten students of Brisbane’s Stuarthome School for girls are flying back from China and will spend two weeks in quarantine at the boarding school to manage any risk of them spreading the illness.

CORONAVIRUS SYDNEY AIRPORT

Five Australian citizens have contracted coronavirus after returning from China. Credit: AAP
But authorities warn there’s likely to be more cases and are working to trace any human contact the five confirmed patients have had, including people who were on the same flights from China to Australia.

In NSW, there are four confirmed cases including a 21-year-old University of NSW student who was diagnosed after flying back from the virus epicentre in Wuhan, China, and three men - aged 35, 43 and 53 - who are being treated at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.

The UNSW student displayed no symptoms upon landing in Sydney on Thursday but 24 hours later began exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

In Victoria, a man in his 50s is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family members are under home isolation.

It’s now believed people who are infected could pass the illness to others the virus’ incubation period, which ranges from one-to-14 days.

Doctors had believed patients were only contagious when they started showing symptoms.

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  • COVIDSAFE: NEW APP TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS

     


    The Australian Government today launches the new voluntary coronavirus app, COVIDSafe.

    The app is an important public health initiative that will help keep you, your family, and your community safe from further spread of coronavirus through early notification of possible exposure.

    “Australians are doing an extraordinary job to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the coronavirus, but we cannot be complacent,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

    “The Chief Medical Officer’s advice is we need the COVIDSafe app as part of the plan to save lives and save livelihoods. The more people who download this important public health app, the safer they and their family will be, the safer their community will be and the sooner we can safely lift restrictions and get back to business and do the things we love.”

    The health initiative uses technology to automate and improve what state and territory health officials already do manually. COVIDSafe will speed up the process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus, quickly stopping further spread of the virus in the community.

    Minister for Health, Greg Hunt thanked Australians for their actions during the pandemic, and said the app is part of the three key requirements for easing restrictions: Test, Trace and Respond.

    “We thank Australians for their help in adhering to the difficult but life-saving social distancing measures,” Minister Hunt said.

    “We are now calling on all Australians to download the COVIDSafe app to help protect you, your family and your community from further spread of COVID-19. This will be necessary if we are to start easing some of the difficult social distancing restrictions we have had to put in place” Minister Hunt said.

    “It will be one of the critical tools we will use to help protect the health of the community by quickly alerting people who may be at risk of having contact with COVID-19. If you’d been exposed, you’d want to know, wouldn’t you?”

    The app has received strong support from states and territories and the health sector, which recognise it is a valuable tool that will enhance the ability to respond rapidly to local outbreaks, and the confidence to know the virus is not silently spreading throughout communities.

    A new determination issued by the Minister for Health under the Biosecurity Act will ensure information provided voluntarily through the App will only be accessible for use by authorised state and territory health officials. Any other access or use will be a criminal offence.

    Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert described the App as being developed with one purpose: to stop the spread of coronavirus.

    “Once installed and running, the COVIDSafe app uses Bluetooth to look for other phones that also have the app installed,” Minister Robert said.

    “To be effective, users should have the app running in the background when they are coming into contact with others. Your phone does not need to be unlocked for the app to work.”

    “It then securely makes a ‘digital handshake’, which notes the date and time, distance and duration of the contact. All information collected by the app is securely encrypted and stored in the app on the user’s phone. No one, not even the user, can access it.”

    “Unless and until a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, no contact information collected in the app is disclosed or able to be accessed. Then, once the person agrees and uploads the data, only the relevant state or territory public health officials will have access to information. The only information they are allowed to access is that of close contacts – when a person has come within approximately 1.5 metres of another app user for 15 minutes or more – in their jurisdiction,” Minister Robert said.

    Welcoming the announcement, Australian Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy said COVIDSafe is set to be a major tool in streamlining the process of identifying contacts after a person tests positive for coronavirus.

    “Finding out quickly means you can quarantine yourself or be treated much faster, protecting your family and friends from possible infection, and slowing the spread of the virus,” Professor Murphy said.

    “Without this technology, health officials have to rely on people being able to remember who they have been around, and being able to provide contact details for those people.”

    “It is important to note that only state and territory health officials will be able to use the information.”

    “COVIDSafe only keeps contact information for 21 days. This covers the maximum incubation period for the virus and the time it takes for someone to be tested for COVID-19,” Professor Murphy said.

    “Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, and Australia no longer needs the app, the app and the information on it will be deleted permanently. No virus, no app,” Minister Hunt said.

    Coronavirus is a serious and contagious respiratory disease with symptoms including fever, a dry cough, a sore throat and shortness of breath that has infected more than 2.8 million people globally and led to 200,000 deaths. In Australia around 6,700 people have contracted coronavirus and sadly 82 people have died.

    The App can be downloaded from the App stores.

  • NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) STATISTICS

    As at 8pm, Sunday 19 April 2020, an additional 6 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed since 8pm 18 April, bringing the total to 2,963.

    During that time, 3,489 people were tested. There were nearly 4000 more people tested in the past week than the week before. 24,246 people were tested in the past week compared to 20,361 the week before.

    Confirmed cases (incl. interstate residents in NSW health care facilities)
    2,963
    Deaths (in NSW from confirmed cases)
    30
    Cases tested and excluded
    165,663
    Total persons tested
    168,626

    There are currently 249 COVID-19 cases being treated by NSW Health. This includes 22 people being treated in Intensive Care Units, with 15 of those requiring ventilators. Of the 249 people currently being treated, 196 (79 per cent) are in non-acute care.

    There has been one death related to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

    A 94-year-old man, confirmed positive for COVID-19, has passed away. He was a resident of Anglicare Newmarch House.

    NSW Health extends condolences to the family of this man.

    There have been two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Anglicare Newmarch House aged care facility in Caddens, bringing the total to 41 cases (14 staff and 27 residents).

    A Centrelink call centre in Tuggerah has a single confirmed case reported. The office has been closed for cleaning. Investigations are underway and close contacts are being identified and contacted. The workplace will remain closed today to allow for a site visit and risk assessment.

    Anyone in areas of concern for community transmission in NSW who is feeling unwell with a fever and cough, should present to a local COVID-19 clinic or their local GP for testing.

    Areas of concern for community transmission in NSW are listed on the NSW Health website. This week the focus areas include the LGA areas of Blacktown, Canada Bay, Cumberland, Goulburn Mulwaree, Inner West, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith, Randwick, Ryde, Waverley and Woollahra.

    Anyone who works in a health care setting, residential care setting (including aged care, disability services), boarding schools, prisons or detention centres should be tested for COVID-19 if they develop any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough or shortness of breath).

    There are 190 crew on board the Ruby Princess who have tested positive for COVID-19. There are also 13 Ruby Princess crew members in NSW Health facilities, 12 of them having tested positive for COVID-19.

    The locations of COVID-19 clinics are available here:
    https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus-clinics.aspx

    NSW Health is alerting passengers who were close contacts on flights to monitor for symptoms, and contact their GP, but call ahead first, or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222, or visit a NSW Health COVID-19/Flu assessment clinic should they become unwell.

    A full list of flight details can be found here:
    https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus-flights.aspx

  • ADVICE FOR PARENTS AHEAD OF SCHOOL RETURNING

     


    With students returning to school next week, parents of children who have had contact with a confirmed case of novel Coronavirus are being urged to keep their children at home and monitor for symptoms.

    NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant explained that any child who has been in contact with a person confirmed as having novel coronavirus must not attend school or childcare for 14 days after the last contact with the infected person.

    “14 days represents the internationally recognised incubation period for the disease,” Dr Chant said.

    “After this time the child is considered to be not be at risk of infection.”

    Students who have travelled to Wuhan and Hubei during the school holidays can return to school but should be carefully monitored for symptoms of coronavirus infection.

    “The most common symptom is a fever,” Dr Chant said.

    “Other symptoms include, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath.”

    Anyone who exhibits these symptoms should be isolated immediately from other people and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

    If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel to Hubei or contact with a person with confirmed coronavirus, you should immediately isolate yourself from other people. Contact your GP or your emergency department or call the healthdirect helpline 1800 022 222 and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

    Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard explained that NSW Health has processes in place to identify any close contacts of cases confirmed in Australia.

    “Advice about not attending school would be provided to these close contacts,” he said.

    There are currently four confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in NSW. All cases had travelled to Wuhan, China or had contact with a confirmed case in China.

    Parents with concerns can contact their local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 for advice or visit the dedicated NSW Health information page at https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

    NSW Department of Education has issued guidance to all NSW Schools, which included information to guide school staff in the event of a child becoming sick.

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