Aussie airports on alert for deadly coronavirus as US confirms its first case

Girl walking wearing a mask in the city street.

Health authorities are working with airports to quell the risk of a pandemic of the deadly novel coronavirus.

The death toll of the virus, which is being compared to SARS, has climbed to six with 250 cases reported across Asia and the US, with Washington reporting its first case this morning.

A Brisban man suspected of showing signs of the virus was quarantined yesterday after returning from Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus is thought to have originated, but was released today after his symptoms ceased, according to 9 News.

The Australian government’s chief medical officer, Prof Brandan Murphy, said that there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in Australia and the risk of transmission remains low.

“We have well-established mechanisms to detect and respond to ill travellers, and processes in place to implement further measures if the risk increases,” he said.

“This is a rapidly evolving matter with developments in recent days and we remain alert but not alarmed.”

Murphy said that the department of health has put in place additional border measures, particularly in relation to the three weekly flights from Wuhan to Sydney.

These measures include giving passengers on these flights information about the virus on arrival and asking them to identify themselves to biosecurity officers if they feel unwell, displaying additional information in all major international ports in Australia, updating the travel advisory to Wuhan and preparing advice for doctors and health professionals.

Since 17 January, 136 new cases of the virus have been identified in Wuhan and an additional 24 cases have been reported in Beijing and Guandong Province in China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the US.

Novel coronavirus belongs to the coronavirus group which causes things like the common cold and gastrointestinal infections or, more recently, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) according to ABC News.

It reportedly originated in a fish market in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province.

Featured image: iStock/Popartic

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