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News & Trends - Biotechnology

Australian health authorities issue new advice on coronavirus

Health Industry Hub | February 3, 2020 |

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said “The WHO has advised that all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of infection, and to share full data with WHO.”

On 21 January 2020 Human coronavirus with pandemic potential was declared a Listed Human Disease under the Biosecurity Act 2015, enabling the use of enhanced border measures.

All travels from Hubei province or people who have been in contact with a confirmed case are being advised to self-isolate for up to 14 days in their homes.

The Government is making available up to 1 million surgical masks from the National Medical Stockpile to GPs and health workers via the PHNs in each state and territory.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has raised the overall level of travel advice for China to ‘Level 3 – Reconsider Your Need to Travel.’

The travel advice for Wuhan and Hubei Province in China was raised to ‘Level 4 – ‘Do Not Travel.’

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), on the advice of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA), considered the changes in epidemiology of novel coronavirus in China. 

AHPPC agreed on the following:

  • To expand the case definition for novel coronavirus infection from 1 February 2020 to apply to people from all of mainland China.
  • Recommend to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to now increase travel advisory to level 4 – do not travel to all of mainland China.
  • As of today, all travellers arriving out of mainland China (not just Hubei Province) be asked to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China.
  • That to substantially reduce the volume of travellers coming from mainland China, AHHPC recommends additional border measures be implemented to deny entry to Australia to people who have left or transited through mainland China from 1 February 2020, with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family and air crews who have been using appropriate personal protective equipment. This also applies to passengers transiting in Australia, unless they are Australian citizens, permanent residents or their immediate families.

Overall there have been approximately 200 tests of suspected cases of Novel Coronavirus with nine cases confirmed in Australia: two in Queensland, three in Victoria, and four in New South Wales. Two cases in New South Wales have now been discharged after achieving negative virus tests.

At the time of publication, there had been close to 12,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally, and at least 259 deaths.


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