Minister for Health, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete says they are closely monitoring the increasing number of the deadly coronavirus cases in different parts of the world, and they have a heightened sense of alert at all our ports of entry as more people are travelling from China for their New Year celebrations.

The ABC reports that the number of cases has passed over 440 worldwide, with a man being tested for the virus in Brisbane and the US confirming its first case in Washington. 9 of the people infected, have died in China.

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A further 23 cases had been detected in the Beijing and Guangdong provinces of China, in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Some of those people had reported travelling to Wuhan.

Doctor Waqainabete says medical officials are at all ports of entry here including Nadi and Nausori airports, and all ship ports.

He says the Health Ministry has an early warning system in place just like cyclones, and any health emergency is addressed immediately.

Doctor Waqainabete says while there are no coronavirus cases in Fiji, the risk levels are higher after a suspected case in Australia and increased travel from China due to New Year celebrations.

There is no cure for the coronavirus, and people have to be treated supportively.

12 Fijians are currently studying in Wuhan Province in China.

Doctor Waqainabete says those who are travelling from the countries where cases have been detected will be identified and monitored. He says they are also talking to their international counterparts and the World Health Organisation.

Reports from The Australian are saying that the health authorities and border ­officials there are on alert for a possible pandemic of coronavirus emerging from China, fuelled by a “perfect storm” of conditions including millions of Chinese travelling for New Year celebrations.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy formally alerted parliament to “a human coronavirus with pandemic potential”. This has authorised Australian Border Force and other government officials to isolate people at airports if they arrive with symptoms of the virus.

A Brisbane man could be isolated at home for weeks after showing signs of respiratory problems on his return from Wuhan, the city in central China that is the suspected source of the coronavirus.

The businessman has been placed in quarantine. Queensland Health later deemed him not to be a risk to the public despite possibly having been infected with the virus. Tests are expected to confirm this in coming days.

There are 219 flights a week from China to six Australian cities, according to Tourism Australia. Three flights a week land in Sydney direct from Wuhan.

Dr Murphy announced extra border measures at airports and travel warnings for Wuhan, where the Australian women’s soccer team is scheduled to play three Olympic qualification matches next month. He said recent developments included significant increases in reported cases but also evidence of limited human-to-human transmission.

The new epidemic is a unique strain believed to have emerged at a seafood market.

Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young warned that there is no vaccine available for the virus “and we don’t see one on the horizon … There is no specific treatment other than supportive care.”

University of Queensland associate professor of virology Ian Mackay said the combination of Chinese New Year and the fact the coronavirus presented as pneumonia during China’s flu season were cause for concern.

Professor Mackay, an expert in emerging viruses, said the Chinese “did everything right” by identifying and sequencing the virus quickly and releasing that information to the WHO.

He said the fact there was limited evidence of human-to-human spread was hopeful.

Dr Murphy said there was likely to be under-reporting and detection, particularly of mild cases, and the true numbers were likely to be significantly greater.

Source - fijivillage
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