news

12 confirmed cases and 140 kids trapped: How the deadly coronavirus is impacting Australia.

Today, two cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in South Australia, taking the national total of confirmed cases to 12.

Last week, the worldwide death toll for the virus was 56.

Today, more than 300 have died.

Six days ago in China, there were just over 2,000 cases of coronavirus infections.

Now, that number has exceeded 13,700, with further confirmed cases not only popping up here in Australia – but in the US, France, Vietnam, Canada, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Nepal and Pakistan.

It was announced this afternoon that a person has died in the Philippines – it was the first death from coronavirus outside China.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation declared the current outbreak of coronavirus to be a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’.

Listen: The Quicky covers everything you need to know about coronavirus. Post continues after podcast.

As Mamamia reported last week, coronaviruses are nothing new. They’re actually a big family of viruses that occur mostly in animals and are responsible for a number of common illnesses. However, certain strains can mutate, be transmitted to people and then spread person-to-person.

Another example of a human coronavirus was SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). SARS originated in China in 2002 and, over the course of several months, spread to two dozen countries, infected at least 8000 people and led to 774 deaths.

This new strain of coronavirus behind the current outbreak is being referred to as 2019-nCoV — or 2019 novel coronavirus.

The first case of novel coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, China, a month ago, with a large seafood market in a central residential district believed to be the primary source.

Here’s everything we know about the impact the virus is having on Australians.

Cases here on home soil.

We have had four patients in Victoria, four in New South Wales, two in Queensland, and two in South Australia.

A couple in their 60s from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, were visiting family in South Australia when they began to experience symptoms of coronavirus. The couple is understood to have left Wuhan on January 20. Their relative has been tested, with results pending.

Two of the four coronavirus patients in NSW have been discharged from hospital after recovering from the potentially deadly disease. The two men had travelled to Sydney from China in January.

In Victoria, the fourth case of coronavirus was confirmed on Saturday after a woman in her 20s was diagnosed. She is recovering in isolation at her home. A woman in her 40s, a visitor from Hubei Province, is also recovering, currently in a stable condition in Victoria. The other two cases in Victoria come from a man in his 50s who lives in Wuhan, and a Victorian resident in his 60s, who is recovering in his home.

In Queensland, a 42-year-old woman from Wuhan was confirmed to have contracted the virus last Tuesday. A 44-year-old man, also from Wuhan, has also been infected by coronavirus.  Both are recovering the Gold Coast University Hospital.

ADVERTISEMENT

Many more Australians, and visitors to Australia, are currently waiting test results to see if they have contracted the potentially lethal disease.

WATCH: NSW Health with all of the resources and health fact checks you need if you’re worried about coronavirus.

Video by NSW Health

The Australians in Wuhan.

Our government is working with Chinese authorities to remove hundreds of Australian citizens from Wuhan.

The Morrison government has announced their plan to airlift Australians from the Chinese city of Wuhan and transport them to Christmas Island offshore immigration detention centre, where they will remain in isolation for 14 days.

The ABC reports there are at least 140 Aussie children trapped in Wuhan, which has been in lockdown since January 23.

Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday morning that Australians trapped will not be charged a $1000 evacuation fee, as previously announced.

Most are in the city to celebrate Chinese New Year with their extended families. This time of year is dubbed the “world’s greatest annual migration” because of the celebrations.

“A lot of those children have been looked after by their grandparents there,” one parent, named only as John told The Australian. “They are desperate to get out because (there is) a shortage of face masks and other protective supplies.”

coronavirus China
The spread of the virus corresponds with the first days of the Spring Festival, which is one of the biggest travel weeks of the year in China. There are hundreds of Australians in the country for celebrations. Image: Betsy Joles/Getty Images.
ADVERTISEMENT

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced on Saturday foreign travellers who have left or passed through China will be denied entry to Australia aiming to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families, dependents, legal guardians and spouses, will be exempted from the strict measures, Mr Morrison said.

People who arrive in Australia and have been to mainland China, not just the Hubei province, are required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they left the country.

Wuhan, home to 11 million people has been in lockdown since January 23, but over the weekend authorities have gradually put 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million into lockdown as well. That is greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

"Our embassy in Beijing and our consulate in Shanghai are also working with international partners and the Chinese government to determine what support can be given to Australians on the ground. Australia does not have a consulate in Wuhan," said Foreign Minister Marise Payne in a statement.

Australia taking China's hosting duties.

Our Matildas were supposed to be playing their Olympic qualifying matches against China, Taiwan and Thailand in Nanjing, China, however the games have been moved due to the threat of coronavirus.

Instead, Sydney has taken over hosting duties.

The Group B games were originally moved from Wuhan - the source of the outbreak - to Nanjing but will now take place in Sydney in February after the Chinese Football Association withdrew as host and the AFC nominated Sydney as the replacement destination.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Thanks to everyone for putting the team's safety first and getting this done in such a short time frame. Thoughts are with China," tweeted Matildas captain Sam Kerr after the announcement.

"Sydney are you ready!?!!" added forward Caitlin Foord.

The impact on tourism.

Every year roughly 1.4 million Chinese holiday in Australia. It's the most visitors we get from any country, and they predominately travel here in groups. They also spend about $12 billion annually in our country while they're here.

In the wake of coronavirus, Beijing has issued an unprecedented order banning all international group travel.

State media has also said the China Tourism Association has halted all domestic holiday hotel and flight bookings through travel agencies and outbound tour groups, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian reports it's sparked alarm among Australian travel operators who are already struggling for visitors amidst our bushfire crisis.

Coronavirus quick facts.

Symptoms? Those who contract 2019-nCoV start showing symptoms between 10-14 days later. It presents as a respiratory illness, that can be as mild as a common-cold to a severe pneumonia. Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, headache, fever and cough.

How is it spread? There is currently no definitive answer on how 2019-nCoV is spread between humans, but Prof Sanjaya Senanayake told The Quicky that similar viruses are transmitted via respiratory droplets, contact with contaminated surfaces and bodily fluids including blood, urine and faeces.

Can anyone die? Many of those that have been killed by coronavirus had pre-existing health issues, including heart disease.

Is there a cure? A vaccine is currently being developed, but that process is likely to take months.

Feature image: Getty.


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Your morning hit of the top news stories, to be consumed with a coffee in hand.


00:00 / ???