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COVID19 Coronavirus

January 21st, 2020

Update 17th Feb 2020

The situation continues to evolve.

Almost all cases of COVID19 are in China so,  unless it is urgent, don’t go to China for the moment – the persons in China have a lot going on, and probably don’t need visitors right now anyway.

There is no risk in Australia. There are no restrictions for Australians travelling to other countries.

The recommendations for travellers are

1 Don’t touch your face while travelling

Virus can potentially live 9 days on surfaces under ideal conditions. If you touch the environment ( lift buttons, doorknobs, telephones, remote controls, benches  etc) and then touch your face you can transfer viruses from then environment to your eyes, nose, and mouth and they go quickly down into your respiratory system where the virus can take hold.

2 Wash your hands frequently with soap and water

Soap and water is the most effective means to remove the virus from your hands. Hand sanitising alcohol-based gel is not as effective for handwashing. Gel is antibacterial rather than antiviral. However, gel is better than nothing.

3 Masks are not helpful

Masks are not helpful for healthy travellers except in very limited circumstances. Doctors wear masks, goggles and hazmat suits if they are serious about avoiding contamination from a patient with any infectious disease.

4 Sick persons – seek medical attention

Sick persons should seek medical attention.

Healthy persons should ideally keep 1-2 metres away from persons who are sick and coughing, but don’t get paranoid. Sometimes this is not possible.  Most coughing is not the coronavirus COVID19.

Also for the record, there is ZERO risk in Chinese restaurants in Australia or being near persons who ‘look chinese’. There is no conspiracy. Lots of very clever scientists around the world are working day and night to get more information. Check out my twitter feed on the front page of our site for interesting and up to the minute news on COVID19 and other travel medicine stories.

To Print info on coronavirus

Update 30th Jan 2020

We should be alert but not alarmed.  It’s important to note that ‘ordinary’ influenza kills about 3500 Australians every year.

WHO says that the total number of confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV reported from mainland China to date is 7,711. This includes 1,370 severe cases and 170 people who have died. 

Masks are not very helpful unless you are a healthcare worker  – in which case they generally have to be fitted and worn correctly. They can also be useful sometimes at home with a sick person, but it is the sick person who should wear the mask to limit spreading the virus to others.

This is a nice summary of how to avoid this virus 

The fatality rate for the ‘normal’  influenza virus and 2019-nCoV is not that different – about 3%. Like influenza, this 2019-nCoV  is reported to be much more dangerous in persons with pre-existing medical problems or those aged over 65 years.

Transmissibility of the nCoV-2019 is estimated at about 2.6 persons per case, in some reports 3-5. This number is roughly the same for influenza and SARS.   The number for Measles is 12-18.

CDC reports Incubation period is 2-14 days They advise: All travelers from China, including business travelers, people who visited friends and family, and humanitarian workers should take the following steps. First, watch for any changes in your health for 14 days after leaving China. If you get a fever or develop a cough or difficulty breathing during this 14-day period, avoid contact with others. Call your doctor or healthcare provider to tell them about your symptoms and your recent travel. They will provide further instruction about steps to take before your medical visit to help to reduce the risk that you will spread your illness to other people in the office or waiting room, if that is what has made you sick.

The risk to Australians in Australia is still very very low.

28th Jan 2020

Smarttraveller raised the threat level to  ‘reconsider your need to travel’ to China overall and ‘do not travel’ to Hubei Province.

21st Jan 2020

China has reported a new virus which is being called 2019-nCoV or the Wuhan virus. It is a new type (novel) coronavirus first described last year (2019) hence the name. SARS and MERS are also coronaviruses but this is different. This virus causes respiratory symptoms and pneumonia.

At this point, there have been more than 220 confirmed cases (39 severe cases, 11 critical cases, and 4 deaths [2 of whom were aged > 60 years, 1 with known underlying health conditions])  since December 8, 2019, in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in Beijing. Also, there are reports of 4 cases having been exported from China: 2 to Thailand, 1 to Japan and 1 to South Korea.

On current information, most cases are directly linked to South China Seafood City Market in Jianghan District, which sold seafood and other wildlife (including birds). This market has been closed for cleaning since 1st Jan 2020. Very limited human to human transmission has recently been reported

The risk to most travellers from 2019-nCoV is negligible.

Travelers going to Wuhan should avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat) as well as contact with ill-appearing persons. Quality of infection control at medical facilities in Wuhan is uncertain, and those with minor medical problems should avoid busy medical settings. Travellers who develop a fever and respiratory symptoms within 14 days of travel to Wuhan should immediately be isolated, and public health authorities should be alerted.

There are concerns that the mass movement of travellers for the Chinese New Year has the potential to spread the virus so the situation is still evolving, but there are NO travel restrictions recommended by any authority at this time.

Recent Guardian story includes a map of china showing Wuhan.

Further information from the CDC on this 2019-nCoV is here.

World Health Organisation information on this virus is here.


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