Government confirms more cases of coronavirus

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Victorian health authorities confirmed the first on Saturday but Australia had five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by the end of the long weekend.

The first patient, a man from Wuhan in China, arrived in Melbourne on 19 January. The fifth case is a 21-year-old woman. There are several more suspected cases of the virus.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt said a range of systems have been activated, including the opening of isolation facilities in each state and territory.

Chinese authorities have confirmed almost 3,000 cases and 80 deaths. They also announced the virus can spread before symptoms appear.

According to Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy, “Victoria has followed its strict protocols, including isolating the affected person. I understand the patient has pneumonia and is in a stable condition.”

The federal government said the only clear evidence of human-to-human transmission is in China's Wuhan region.

“Victorian and Commonwealth authorities will be undertaking 'contact tracing' for passengers who travelled on this flight and to provide them with information and advice,” said Mr Hunt.

The federal government has also raised the level of travel advice for Wuhan and Hubei Province in China to ‘level 4 – do not travel’.

Enhanced border measures have been activated under the Listed Human Disease under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and Professor Murphy convened a national teleconference of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC) to coordinate further action.

“We don’t know exactly how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected, but there is an incubation period and some patients will have very mild symptoms,” said Professor Murphy.

“Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Difficulty breathing is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.”

“People who arrive in Australia from an international flight with these symptoms should alert their airline, or a biosecurity officer if they have disembarked.”