Brisbane man being tested for coronavirus after recently returning from Wuhan in China

| 21.01,20. 07:32 PM |

Brisbane man being tested for coronavirus after recently returning from Wuhan in China

Queensland Health monitoring man for deadly new virus (ABC News)

A Brisbane man who is being tested for a deadly new strain of coronavirus has been released from home isolation.

The man had recently returned from Wuhan in central China, where the mysterious SARS-like illness was identified last month.

The man would have flown into Sydney from China.

The virus has claimed the lives of four people in China.

He was placed in home isolation after he presented to his GP with flu-like symptoms.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said the man had no symptoms of the virus, but the department was still waiting on additional tests.

Authorities said there was no cause for alarm.

Dr Young said earlier today that test results might not be known for several days as authorities needed further medical information from China.

"At the moment we can only do a generic test for coronavirus," Dr Young said.

"We can't do the specific test for this specific virus because we haven't seen it before, so we've got to develop the specific tests to be able to say it's this particular virus.

"We don't have the primer yet. The World Health Organisation released [the primer], after China gave them specifics, so that's now available.

"So we need to obtain the primers that have been developed against this specific coronavirus."

Awareness in Queensland 'stepped up'

It comes as Australia ramps up airport screenings of passengers arriving from China.

China's National Health Commission confirmed the strain could be passed from person to person and sparked fresh fears of a global epidemic.

The outbreak has spread to other cities, including the capital Beijing and Shanghai.

Last night, chief health officers from around Australia and the Commonwealth's chief medical officer met to discuss measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.

"At this stage, they're looking at meeting the planes that come directly from Wuhan into Australia," Dr Young said.

"There are three flights a week flying to Sydney airport and they're looking at processes to meet those planes.

"But essentially there are a lot of Chinese [people] who do travel between Australia and China, particularly as we're moving into the Chinese New Year festival period.

"So the advice is that anyone who travels to Wuhan and then comes back and is unwell [with flu-like symptoms] is to go and see their GP or a [hospital] emergency department and to isolate themselves from other people."

Dr Young said she had stepped up awareness of the virus in Queensland recently.

"I've sent out advice last week to all GPs, all emergency departments, private hospitals and various clinical groups to be aware," she said.

"At this stage, anyone who returns from Wuhan… if they develop any respiratory symptoms — cough, fever, sore throat — then we're asking GPs and emergency departments to collect certain specimens and to send them down to Brisbane where they can be tested for the new virus.

"And we're asking people to remain reasonably isolated."

Risk of virus transmission in Australia 'remains low'

Australia's chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, said the disease had an incubation period of about a week, during which time symptoms would not be apparent.

He said stricter screening measures would apply particularly to the three flights a week that arrived in Sydney from Wuhan.

Those flights will now be met by border security and biosecurity staff as well as New South Wales Health officials.

Professor Murphy said in a statement "to date there have been no confirmed cases in Australia".

"The risk of transmission in Australia from this novel coronavirus remains low," he said.

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

"Australia has world-class public health systems in place to manage any cases, including isolation facilities in each state and territory.

"There is currently no vaccine available for this new virus — supportive care is the best available treatment if a case is confirmed."

Authorities around the globe, including in the United States and many Asian countries, have also stepped up screening of travellers from Wuhan.


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