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QLD authorities working to contain possible spread of coronavirus

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Queensland health authorities are working to contain the possible spread of coronavirus after a Gold Coast worker contracted the disease.

Queensland health authorities are working to contain the possible spread of coronavirus after a Gold Coast worker contracted the disease.

A 63-year-old beautician on the Gold Coast is in isolation after testing positive to the coronavirus COVID-19.

The woman began feeling unwell at work on Thursday after returning from Iran, where the disease has reached epidemic levels.

The coronavirus as seen under a microscope.

She is currently being treated at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

"She did all of the right things, as soon as she identified she had been to a country where the coronavirus is spreading and she was experiencing a symptom, she went home from work," Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said.

"When those symptoms worsened she went to the hospital. That is precisely what we have been urging people to do."

Health authorities are now trying to track down any clients she treated on Thursday, but have assured the public the risk of skin to skin transmission between people in the state is still low.

The beautician saw up to 40 people at a Southport salon on Thursday before she started to develop symptoms and went home.

Shoppers in China are checked for coronavirus symptoms.

"She saw a number of clients each for brief interactions, so we believe the risk is incredibly low," Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said.

Dr Young said officials were contacting known customers, but not everyone was accounted for.

"We know that they haven't got records of all of these clients because a lot pay by cash," she said yesterday.

Anyone who visited the salon from 11am on Thursday is urged to contact GCUH.

Ms Young said because most of the contact the 63-year-old had with each customer was for less than 15 minutes, the risk she had passed on the virus was "incredibly low".

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The infected woman is being treated at Gold Coast University Hospital.

The total number of Australians who have contracted coronavirus now stands at 25.

The other case is a 79-year-old West Australian woman has tested positive after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

Dr Young said the number of countries that have contracted the coronavirus is increasing each day.

"So it's very hard for individuals to work out which country is at risk," she told reporters in Brisbane yesterday.

"It's really a message now, if you have been overseas, you come back to Queensland, you feel unwell with any symptoms, that you go and get advice."

The woman is in isolation at Gold Coast University Hospital.

Dr Young said that older people are more likely to suffer life-threatening symptoms from the disease.

"Children are doing well. They're getting the disease but with minimal symptoms," she said.

"The group that's most at risk is those people who are older, or people with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension."

Yesterday New Zealand authorities confirmed that a man returning from Iran was the first person in that country with coronavirus.

At least 210 people in Iran have died of the disease, and many more have been infected, including the country's Vice President.

The coronavirus outbreak has been particularly pronounced in Iran.

Read more: All the symptoms and everything else you need to know about coronavirus

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a specific type of coronavirus that causes severe lung disease and originated in China on December 31, 2019.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The name comes from the Latin word "corona," meaning a halo or crown, which the viruses resemble when viewed under a microscope.

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The current outbreak is most likely to have started from people who picked it up from a fresh food market, also known as a 'wet market', in Wuhan, China.

Although it is a new strain among humans, it is likely the virus was being transmitted among different animal species and then transferred to humans at the market.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

The incubation period - between infection and showing any symptoms - lasts up to 14 days, according to the WHO.

But some researchers say it may be as long as 24 days.

And Chinese scientists say some people may be infectious even before their symptoms appear.

How worried should you be about contracting coronavirus?

According to WHO, If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or if you have not travelled from one of those areas or have not been in close contact with someone who has and is feeling unwell, your chances of getting it are currently low.

In Australia, the low number of confirmed cases means a reduced likelihood of infection.

Despite this, authorities are urging people to remain vigilant and continue to monitor their own symptoms, maintain their hygiene, obey travel bans to areas with high infection rates and seek professional medical advice if they have concerns.

How to protect yourself and others from infection

The WHO says standard recommendations to prevent spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

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Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.

People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus in Taipei, Taiwan.

Is there a cure for coronavirus?

There is no cure or vaccine for the virus however hope for treating the virus could be on the horizon with the first US study of a drug to treat the illness on the way.

A clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug, Remdesivir, in adults diagnosed with coronavirus started at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the National Institutes of Health said.

In Australia, health authorities are encouraging people to receive their flu shot as early as possible to avoid added pressure on the health system as flu-season approaches.

COVID-19 is also more dangerous if you have a pre-existing condition or weak immune system meaning protecting yourself from other illnesses is a practical step to preventing life-threatening symptoms.

What is Australia doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Australian authorities are taking a "rings of containment" approach to limiting the spread of the virus, now formally known as COVID-19, by trying to contain any confirmed cases to individuals, families or affected units.

For a small outbreak, public health units would trace who infected people had come into contact with and isolate people where appropriate to try to prevent further spread.

In the case of a bigger spread, they would focus on limiting the speed at which the virus is being transmitted.

Read more on Australia's response here.

Reported with AAP.

Source: 9News

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