Australian virus response and preparations

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(Australian Associated Press)

 

AUSTRALIA’S RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS:

  • Authorities are taking a “rings of containment” approach to limiting the spread of the virus, now formally known as COVID-19, by trying to contain any confirmed cases to individuals, families or affected units
  • If a coronavirus pandemic is declared globally but the disease remains contained in Australia, authorities will keep doing what they are doing now
  • If there is an increase in cases in Australia or transmission within the community, then authorities would cater a fresh response to the particular circumstances. For a small outbreak, public health units would trace who infected people had come into contact with and isolate people where appropriate to try to prevent further spread. In the case of a bigger spread, they would focus on limiting the speed at which the virus is being transmitted
  • Such scenarios are addressed in Australia’s coronavirus emergency response plan, which is designed to guide the health sector’s response
  • More than 3000 people have been tested for coronavirus in Australia. There have only been 15 cases confirmed in the general population, all of whom have now cleared the condition. Anyone with an unusual form of pneumonia is now being tested for the virus
  • Every hospital has some process for isolating people if needed
  • Both the federal and state governments have powers to force people to enter quarantine if they won’t do so voluntarily
  • Australia is reviewing its travel advice as virus situations evolve in various countries. Advice levels for northern Italy, Iran, Japan and Korea have been increased
  • Health Minister Greg Hunt has told Australian athletes preparing for this year’s Tokyo Olympics to “just keep training” as he hopes they have a fruitful Olympics ahead – but says they will be the first to know if there is any risk
  • The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee will consider whether to relax the current ban on people entering Australia from China for university students. It would also only so if it’s “very confident” the virus is under control in Chinese provinces other than Hubei
  • Authorities could cancel events with major crowds, such as AFL games, but only as a “last resort”, if the virus situation escalates
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