Australian doctors are examining a passenger who arrived this morning in Sydney on a flight from Wuhan, in China.
Concerns were raised after the passenger showed symptoms consistent with coronavirus.
Dr Kerry Chan, the Chief Health Officer for New South Wales, told ABC News that further tests will be done very quickly and the authorities expect to be able to confirm or deny a coronavirus diagnosis within “a very short timeframe”.
Four infection control and virology specialists from Sydney’s Westmead Hospital have now been tasked with checking all arrivals from countries affected by the deadly virus.
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NSW Health protection executive director Jeremy McAnulty confirmed that the screening team would be equipped with full protective gear to prevent infection.
“If it looks like they may have an infection … we can arrange for testing and management of that person right away,” Dr McAnulty said.
Dr McAnulty admitted that identifying potential carriers as they arrive at an airport is “not foolproof by any means” because symptoms of the disease can take several days to appear after initial infection.
One of the people waiting at the airport for relatives inbound from China said she had confidence in the new screening measures: “I’m a little worried but I think the staff here will test them all,” Fu Gui told AAP.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says that while it’s possible that the virus will reach Australia, the country is well-equipped to respond.
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Health Minister Greg Hunt added that anyone who appeared to be suffering from coronavirus symptoms could be forcibly taken to hospital.
“But,” he continued, “we expect that any passengers that do have issues will self-report because it’s in their own interests.”
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The Australian government’s latest travel advisory urged all Australians to think twice before visiting China’s Wuhan province.
The Wuhan food market, which has been identified as the source of the outbreak, has been today revealed to have been selling koalas imported from Australia for their meat.
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