Four imported cases of novel coronavirus reported Jan. 25 in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. All are hospitalized. Risk to public low.

Severity: Informational Alert

This alert began 25 Jan 2020 23:51 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Novel Coronavirus
  • Location(s): Melbourne and Sydney (map) (map)
  • Period: January 2020
  • Cases (Confirmed): 4 (4)

Summary
Australian authorities report four imported cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Jan. 25 in individuals who had recently returned from travel in Wuhan, China, where an outbreak is ongoing. One case is receiving treatment in isolation in Melbourne, while three are hospitalized in Sydney. All patients are reportedly in stable condition. Additional cases may be identified in the coming weeks; contact tracing is underway, and Australia is a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

Background and Analysis
Older individuals and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission is occurring, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. However, preliminary investigations indicate the course of illness is not as severe as seasonal influenza, nor as contagious.

Symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection typically begin 3-9 days after exposure. These symptoms include fever, fatigue, and cough, sometimes worsening to diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Avoid close contact with animals (dead or alive), especially at wet markets. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.