Member update on the Novel Coronavirus

We have compiled the information below based on recent communications from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer. Please read it and act accordingly.

Current Situation

  • Information on this event is changing rapidly. It is clear that it is a significant outbreak in the City of Wuhan and surrounds in China. Facts as we know them include: 
  • Reported cases are now over 2000, but all modelling suggests that the total case numbers are likely to be much higher than that.
  • The majority of cases are in the Hubei Province, where the city of Wuhan is, but relatively small numbers of cases have been reported in many other provinces of China.
  • There have now been more than 40 exported cases outside of China, in Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the USA, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Nepal and Macau.
  • Nearly all of these cases have reported travel to Hubei Province.
  • Sustained human-to-human transmission (including to healthcare workers) has clearly been demonstrated in Hubei/Wuhan but not proven in locations outside China where cases have been reported.
  • There have been 56 confirmed deaths, 52 in the epicentre in Hubei province and four elsewhere in China.
  • A number, but not all, of the deaths appear to have had comorbidities.


Clinical Features

  • The main clinical features are as follows:
  • Clinically nearly all cases have fever, associated with other respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath.
  • Current estimates suggest that about 25% of cases have severe disease with significant pulmonary involvement.
  • There appear to be a number of mild cases, some of whom have completely recovered. Fortunately, all of the four cases in Australia are currently stable, even though one has been unwell for 10 days.
  • The incubation period is not well defined but appears to be an average of around seven days with an upper limit of 14 days.
  • It is not known how infective people are before symptoms develop, but we do know that the related SARS and MERS coronaviruses were not infectious until symptoms developed.


How you can help

At your practice, there is no need to be alarmed but let’s be diligent and make sure you follow all infection control guidelines in your practice.

In the coming weeks, you may also check if a patient displays any of the clinical features above or a sore throat. If so, you may wish to seek a travel history from them and whether they have been in the Hubei province of China (including the City of Wuhan) or whether they have been in contact with people with the coronavirus infection. If the answer is yes, then ask your patient to put on a surgical mask and present to their GP or Emergency Department (after first phoning ahead to warn them that they are coming).

Further information on this emerging situation can be found on the Department of Health website.

Above all, please stay vigilant and safe.

Bill Suen DHAA CEO