Plane From Epicentre Of Coronavirus Outbreak Lands In Sydney
A plane carrying passengers from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, has arrived in Sydney as health authorities work to contain the spread of the deadly new strain.
The China Eastern Airlines flight from Xian via Wuhan arrived at Sydney International Airport about 11:35am on Thursday.
Four NSW Health doctors and nurses experienced in public health and infection control alongside virology experts from Westmead Hospital will assess the passengers as they depart the plane.
One passenger, Kevin, told 10 News First all passengers were wearing masks on board.
A man who was waiting at the airport to pick up his girlfriend, who had come to Sydney for Chinese New Year, said she was lucky to have left Wuhan.
"The city is closed ... she is very lucky, yes," he told 10 News First.
NSW Health Protection Executive Director Jeremy McAnulty said the team will wear masks and gloves when examining anyone who shows signs of infection, which include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
"If it looks like they may have an infection... we can arrange for testing and management of that person right away," McAnulty said.
But he warned identifying potential carriers at the airport is not foolproof, as passengers who may have been exposed to the virus may not show symptoms for some days.
It comes as the city of Wuhan has been put into 'lockdown' ahead of Chinese New Year to stop the new deadly virus spreading across the country.
Major Chinese New Year events have been cancelled and trains and buses shut, as travellers are urged to keep clear of the city.
Wuhan has a population of 11 million and is where the virus is believed to have first broken out in a seafood and poultry market.
The World Health Organisation was informed of cases of pneumonia detected in the city in late December, which Chinese authorities identified as the new virus the following week.
With millions of people travelling on packed transport across China for Chinese New Year, there are fears that the infection could spread quickly.
Wuhan's major Zhou Xianwang said visitors should avoid the city and residents should not leave.
"If it's not necessary, we suggest that people don't come to Wuhan," Zhou told state broadcaster CCTV.
The shutdown comes after reports the number of people who have died from the virus doubled to 17 people overnight.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned Australians to exercise a high degree of caution if travelling to Wuhan.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote on Twitter that Australians should be alert but not alarmed by the "evolving situation".
Health screenings have been ramped up at Australian airports after a Brisbane man who returned from China was cleared of the virus.
While a number of people have been tested, there are yet to be any confirmed cases of the virus in Australia.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said it's possible the virus will reach Australia, but he insisted the nation is equipped to respond.
Cases of the virus have been detected in Beijing, Hong Kong, the United States, Thailand, Japan, Macau and South Korea.
The World Health Organisation will decide whether to declare a global public health emergency at a second Emergency Committee meeting.
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