Health Authorities Step Up Coronavirus Precautions

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Sarah Peddie

Australian authorities have said that they are ready to isolate anyone who enters Australia carrying the coronavirus that was first reported in China a month ago. 

It has been confirmed that nine people have died from the virus and over 400 people have been infected with the outbreak that was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Medical staff from the New South Wales Health department will be situated at Sydney airport and stationed alongside biosecurity staff. They will be there to meet the direct flight from Wuhan that comes in three times a week and conduct an initial diagnosis of anyone on the flight who look like they are carrying flu symptoms. If necessary, they will send them to Weastmead hospital for testing.

The authorities will also provide written information in English and Chinese for anyone who is experiencing respiratory symptoms.

But what is coronavirus?

A common human coronavirus will usually cause a mild upper-respiratory tract illness like a common cold. Most people will get infected with this virus at some point in their lives and only lasts for a short amount of time. 

There are two other coronaviruses a human can catch and they are MERS and SARS which have been known to cause severe symptoms.

MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath which can then lead on to pneumonia. Around three or four out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died. SARS symptoms include fever, chills, body aches and will also usually progress to pneumonia. 

Under Australian law, airlines must report sick passengers to biosecurity staff before the plane is unloaded. In New South Wales, the virus has been made a notifiable condition which means the state government must be notified about any suspected cases.  

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