Coronavirus, a rapidly evolving global health issue

Burnet Institute

18 February, 2020

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The emergence of a novel coronavirus is a rapidly evolving global health issue.

Globally there are more than 71,400 confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) according to the latest situation report from the World Health Organization (WHO) (as of 17 Feb 2020).

On 31 January, WHO declared COVID-19 a global public health emergency of international concern.

First identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019, COVID-19 is a new virus strain not previously identified in humans.

A total of 15 cases have been confirmed in Australia.

The Australian Government, like other governments around the world, is implementing procedures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Symptoms commonly include feeling tired, difficulty breathing, high temperature, a cough and/or sore throat.

If you have these symptoms and have travelled recently to a high-risk area, or been in contact with someone who has, the advice is to:

  • Stay home and contact your GP or health professional, or
  • Call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.

Precautions advised by public health experts include:

  • Frequently clean hands using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Wash your hands before eating
  • Regularly clean commonly used surfaces and devices you touch and handle
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
  • Observe and comply with health-related signage.

The Australian Government Department of Health is closely monitoring the outbreak.

Read the latest updates from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer.

Other useful resources include:

As more information about the coronavirus becomes available, advice may change over time.

Our thoughts are with friends and family in Hubei province and anyone who has been affected.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Doctor Ben Coghlan

Program Director, Health Security (Expansion Program)




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