Thursday 23 January 2020

Passengers arriving in Sydey given leaflets telling them to "see a doctor" if they suffered from symptoms of coronavirus

Here is confirmation that Australian authorities are telling passngers from Wuhan to "consult a doctor" if they feel unwell.

This disease has an incubation period of several days. 

Imagine the potential for spreading this disease.

The last flight from Wuhan: Plane full of passengers from coronavirus epicentre lands in Sydney as death toll soars to 17 and China QUARANTINES city of 11m
  • Biosecurity staff screened passengers who had landed on the final flight out of Wuhan at Sydney Airport
  • Normally 3 direct flights from Wuhan to Sydney a week, but officials have placed Chinese city in lockdown
  • A plane with hundreds of passengers from the city landed in Sydney on Thursday at just after 11am
  • One international student said he was quizzed by officials on way into airport and asked if he was unwell
  • Passengers also given leaflets telling them to see a doctor if they suffered from symptoms of coronavirus
Passengers from the final flight from Wuhan - the epicentre of the coronavirus - are seen walking through arrivals at Sydney Airport on Thursday
23 January, 2020

Hundreds of passengers today arrived in Australia from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a new deadly virus which is spreading around the world.

The passengers from China Eastern flight MU749 were wearing masks as they made their way through Sydney Airport's arrivals hall just before midday after a 10-hour night flight on an A332 plane that can hold 234 people.

The flight was one of the last to leave the city of 11million before a quarantine was put in place and all outbound trains and planes were cancelled.

The passengers from China Eastern flight MU749 were wearing masks as they made their way through Sydney Airport's arrivals hall

The passengers were screened in China before they boarded and, when their aircraft landed, they were asked by the pilot to declare if they felt unwell.

NSW Health had a team of four nurses and doctors, who wore masks but not full HAZMAT suits, at the airport to interview anyone who had cold-like symptoms before they went through customs.

The passengers were also screened by thermal imaging to check their temperatures - and given leaflets in English and Mandarin telling them to see a doctor if they suffered sweats, breathing difficulties or chills.

A plan was in place to take any passenger suspected of being infected to Westmead Hospital - but nobody was found to be sick.

One international student from Wuhan who was on the flight told Daily Mail Australia he was quizzed by officials on the way into the airport.

'A group of doctors wearing masks asked me if I had a cold and if I felt unwell, which I didn't,' he said.

'They checked my temperature and then let me through. I got lucky because I'm on the last flight out of Wuhan.

'The situation isn't that bad there, it's not as bad as all the scare stories.'

In a chilling warning, professor of global biosecurity at UNSW Dr Raina McIntyre said even using thermal imaging to detect passengers with high temperatures may not stop the virus getting into Australia

Another passenger said they realised the situation was bad in Wuhan when the city was isolated

'I was shocked when I heard that flights and trains were cancelled. To tell people not to leave during New Year is a drastic measure.'

One passenger said officials went up and down the plane when it landed, quizzing all the passengers.

'They checked everyone but I wasn't really worried,' she said.

A passenger named Kevin Ouyang, who held up his information leaflet as he posed for photos, said people travelling to Australia are worried about going home if the virus spreads.

'People are very worried,' he said. 'It's a big city.'

Flight crew were seen walking through the arrivals hall with masks and gloves. The captain, wearing sunglasses and a mask, was directed though the hall as a scrum of photographers took pictures.

Dozens of the passengers are likely to be visiting Australia as tourists or for family re-unions ahead of the Lunar New Year on Saturday, raising fears they will be traveling to places with large crowds such as Bondi Beach and the Sydney Opera House.

Staff working at shops in the arrivals hall said they were on high alert as the flight from Wuhan landed.

One mobile phone shop worker, who asked not to be named, told Daily Mail Australia: 'We're very concerned about it and we're taking precautions such as regularly washing our hands'.

A currency exchange worker said she was concerned because she had been getting more ill more than usual since working in the airport.

She said: 'It's really scary and I'm really worried about the virus because it's easy for us working in the airport to catch infections. I would say I get a cold every few weeks - just because of the number of people passing through.

'Cancelling flights from Wuhan is a good thing,' she added.

Workers at the Sydney Airport information desk said they had been told by their bosses not to speak to the media under any circumstances.

The new coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan last month. It is believed to have spread from animals in the city's market and has already killed 17 and spread to five countries including the US.

Doctors on Wednesday said the number of cases around the world may be as high as 10,000.

Today's flight from Wuhan was the last one to enter Sydney before the quarantine imposed by the Chinese government.

'The rise in the mobility of the public has objectively increased the risk of the epidemic spreading,' Chinese National Health Commission vice minister Li Bin said.

Experts fear the new coronavirus, which is not yet named, may already be in Australia even though no-one in the country has been diagnosed.

In an interview with Daily Mail Australia on Thursday morning, Dr Raina McIntyre, professor of global biosecurity at UNSW, said: 'It is possible that someone who is incubating the infection but is not yet ill is in the country.

'People can be incubating the disease and not have fever when they enter the country.'

In a chilling warning, Dr McIntyre said even using thermal imaging to detect passengers with high temperatures may not stop the virus getting into Australia.

She said: 'Some infections involve transmission of virus before any symptoms appear - influenza is a classic example of this.'

'SARS, Ebola and MERS CoV tend to only be infectious when people are sick and have clear symptoms, so thermoscanning is more useful in such infections. We do not know yet whether this new coronavirus can be spread in the absence of symptoms. If it is like SARS, it is unlikely, but this needs to be confirmed with research.'

Dr McIntyre said that new measures must be put in place to stop the deadly infection spreading, including new triage protocols in hospitals.

She said: 'What would really help detect cases and prevent outbreaks is automated triage protocols in emergency departments and general practice - where if a patient presents with fever, health workers are prompted to ask if they have travelled recently.

'If they have, and if they have returned from China, this would then trigger a protocol for isolating the patient and contacting relevant health authorities.

'Time and time again we see failure of hospital triage when travel history is not asked - MERS CoV in South Korea for example - resulting in preventable epidemics. Providing returning passengers with information cards on who to contact should they develop symptoms is also useful.'

The Chinese city of Wuhan was placed under quarantine on Thursday four hours after China Eastern flight MU749 took off in an effort to stop the spread of the killer coronavirus believed to have originated there.

No one will be allowed to enter or leave Wuhan, a city of 11 million in China's Hubei province, as one of the country's busiest travel seasons surrounding the Lunar New Year kicks off.

The crack team at Sydney Airport were set to include four NSW Health doctors and nurses experienced in public health and infection control alongside virology experts from Westmead Hospital and elsewhere.

The Chinese city of Wuhan was placed under quarantine on Thursday in an effort to stop the spread of the killer coronavirus believed to have originated there. A plane carrying hundreds of passengers from the city to Sydney has landed on Thursday

The team were due to wear masks and gloves when examining anyone with symptoms, NSW Health protection executive director Jeremy McAnulty said.

'If it looks like they may have an infection ... we can arrange for testing and management of that person right away,' Dr McAnulty said.

Experts at Westmead Hospital can rapidly diagnose patients although if someone is very unwell they could be taken to a hospital closer to the airport.

Dr McAnulty said identifying potential carriers at the airport was 'not foolproof by any means' because people who've been exposed to the virus may not display symptoms for days.

The virus is thought to have spread into humans from a Wuhan seafood market 'which illegally traded wild animals' before travelers carried it to at least five other countries - Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the United States.

World Health Organization (WHO) officials met Wednesday to decide whether to declare the outbreak a 'public health emergency of international concern', but members' opinions were 'split' and the committee will reconvene Thursday.

Experts say its possible up to 10,000 people in China alone have been exposed to the virus, called 2019-nCoV, which is from the same family that caused previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS, killing hundreds of people in dozens of countries.

China's National Health Commission said the virus had been mutating, making it more difficult to control.

Wuhan will temporarily shut down airport and train stations for outgoing passengers as authorities attempt to control the spread of the virus.

Residents have been urged not to leave the city, however, as it is the Lunar New Year holiday many will be planning trips.

'If it's not necessary we suggest that people don't come to Wuhan,' Wuhan's mayor Zhou Xianwang said.

This is what goes for coverage from the Sydney Morning Herald. There was NOTHING I could find on NZ's Stuff
Passengers arrive at Sydney Airport from Wuhan wearing masks.

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