Australia’s top health official says there’s “no current need” to strengthen existing airport screening measures to target an unknown Sars-like virus that has infected nearly 50 people in China and killed two since it was reported on New Year’s Eve.
Australia’s chief medical officer, Dr Brendan Murphy, said Australia authorities were “looking very closely at trends,” but had not issued a travel warning.
“There is no existing need for any travel agency in Australia that is compliant with World Health Organization guidelines,” he said in a statement on Saturday evening.
The outbreak of the previously unknown coronavirus was connected to a fish market at Wuhan, the capital of the central province of Hubei in China.
Since 1 January the Wuhan South China Seafood City store, which also sells chickens, bats, marmots and other species, is closed.
Laboratory tests conducted in China showed that the virus was neither Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) nor Mers (breathing syndrome in the Middle East).
Most of the cases were detected within days of market closure but Chinese authorities reported on Thursday that four new patients were diagnosed with viral pneumonia.
Three major airports in the United States have announced that they will screen passengers coming from Wuhan, and screening has also increased at Thailand airports, which have confirmed two cases of the mystery virus, as well as airports in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof. Brendan Murphy, says the four new cases are’ concerned’ with FacebookTwitterPinterest Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof. Brendan Murphy, said that the four new cases are’ concerning.’ Photograph: Stefan Postles / AAP In Japan, the case was also detected.
Thermal surveillance equipment at Bangkok airport has detected one of the cases in Thailand.
Murphy said this week’s four new cases were “concerned.”
“While there is no strong evidence of human transmission to humans, it raises this as a possibility to recognize recent cases many days after the closing of the fish market, initially identified as the likely source,” he said.
“Importantly, however, several hundred healthcare workers who were exposed to patients in China did not have cases of infection.”