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Australia bracing for deadly coronavirus, as death toll rises

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Health authorities in Australia are bracing for a potential outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, stockpiling 10 million mask, developing a one-step test for the disease and preparing isolation units.

Health authorities in Australia are bracing for a potential outbreak of the deadly coronavirus as the death toll rises to 25.

NSW Health said while there are no confirmed cases in the state, four are currently under investigation.

China's National Health Commission said the number of cases of the virus there has risen to 830 while there have been 25 deaths.

Travellers wear face masks as they walk outside of the Beijing Railway Station. China has reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected with a new coronavirus, including the first cases in the capital.

The update this morning also confirmed the first death outside the central province of Hubei.

The health commission in Hebei, a northern province bordering Beijing, said an 80-year-old man died after showing symptoms upon his return from a two-month stay in Wuhan to see relatives.

Wuhan is the capital of Hubei and has been the epicentre of the outbreak of the coronavirus first detected last month.

Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it is "a bit too early" to declare coronavirus a global health emergency as China put millions of people on lockdown.

A plane full of passengers has landed in Sydney from Wuhan, China.

A flight from Wuhan to Sydney yesterday was one of the last flights to escape the city's lockdown as China attempts to control the spread of the disease.

But health experts are warning it could take weeks before any infected passengers display symptoms.

"It is always possible that ... people could be incubating the virus on that plane today," Australia's chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy said.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Today that Australia has the "world's best protocols" to deal with any health threat.

"Through the World Health Organisation and chief medical officer we have established protocols. We have the world's best protocols in place," he said.

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"I think people should recognise that in a country like ours the health services are the best prepared, best able to respond."

Mr Dutton admitted the virus's 14-day incubation period made effective screening harder for Australian authorities.

In China, health officials fear the transmission rate could accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad for the Lunar New Year, which begins tomorrow.

"It is a bit too early to consider that this is a public health emergency of international concern," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

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He said the organisation's emergency committee of 16 independent experts had been divided in its conclusion.

"Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one," he said.

Mr Ghebreyesus said China had taken measures that the WHO believes are appropriate.

The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in the capital of Hubei province, Wuhan.

Source: 9News

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