A new virus that is being compared to SARS has begun spreading from central China, prompting passenger screening in airports across Asia and the US.
With Chinese New Year celebrations coming up over the weekend, which usually results in billions of Chinese citizens travelling across the country and internationally, authorities fear the spread could intensify.
Australian authorities have confirmed they are “watching developments closely” according to The Guardian, but do not think it is necessary to issue a travel warning or extra screening measures at airports.
“There is no current need for any travel advisory in Australia, which is consistent with recommendations from the World Health Organisation,” Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Brendan Murphy said in a statement.
The virus, known as novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV, reportedly originated in a fish market in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province and has so far infected 222 people and killed three.
Cases have been reported in Thailand, Japan and South Korea all originating from people who had recently visited Wuhan, however ABC News reported cases have also been reported in Beijing and Shanghai.
The virus belongs to the coronavirus group, that cause 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.
Three major US airports (SFO, LAX and JFK), have begun screening for the virus, as well as Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Australia already has measures in place to screen for sick travellers and laws that require airlines to report passengers showing signs of infectious disease who are met upon landing by biosecurity officers to be assessed.