Wuhan virus: Australia confirms first cases of coronavirus

Wuhan virus: Australia confirms first cases of coronavirus

Melbourne skyline
Melbourne skyline. (Photo: AFP)

MELBOURNE: Australia confirmed on Saturday (Jan 25) its four cases of the Wuhan coronavirus. 

One patient is hospitalised in stable condition in a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria health officials said.

The Chinese national in his 50s, arrived from China on Jan 19 on a flight from Guangzhou, Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told journalists.o the community," Mikakos said, adding that the patient is isolated. 

Victoria's acting Chief Health Officer Angie Bone said the patient is not in intensive care.

"He is stable and not in a very serious condition," she said.

Three other men, aged 53, 43 and 35, were in stable condition in Sydney's Westmead hospital after they were confirmed to have the virus on Saturday after returning from China earlier this month, said the New South Wales state Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Two of the men travelled to Sydney from the city of Wuhan, where the virus first appeared, and the third from China's southeastern Shenzhen.

"They are not particularly unwell," New South Wales state chief health officer Kerry Chant told a press conference.

She said public health officials had managed to track most of the people who had been with two of the men on their flights from China and none were showing symptoms of the illness.

Officials were still trying to trace the travel of the other man and are waiting on test results from several other people suspected of contracting the disease.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard praised the three men in Sydney for approaching doctors once their symptoms arose.

Authorities in Queensland state said five other people had been cleared after they were suspected of infection.

The first tennis Grand Slam event of the year, the Australian Open, is presently taking place in Melbourne. 

Australians were urged on Saturday not to travel to the Hubei province in China, with the government issuing its most severe travel advisory.

"Strict travel restrictions have been imposed in Wuhan and a number of other cities in Hubei province," Australia's foreign ministry said in a statement. "If you travel to Hubei province at this time you may not be allowed to depart until travel restrictions are lifted."

Australia is a popular destination for Chinese. It saw about 1.4 million short-term arrivals from China last year – the largest source of foreign visitors to the country.

READ: Wuhan virus outbreak - At a glance

Chinese authorities on Saturday said the total number of cases in the country stood at 1,287, with 41 deaths so far

The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because there are still many unknowns surrounding it such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases. 

MORE: Our coverage on the Wuhan virus and its developments

Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing. Most of the fatalities have been in elderly patients, many with pre-existing conditions, the WHO said.

The virus has also spread to densely populated South Asia, where Nepal confirmed one case, and Europe, where three cases were reported in France.

Source: CNA/Agencies/rw/nr