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Australian scientists make coronavirus breakthrough with live strain

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

An elite NSW research team is one step closer to finding a fast and reliable test for the deadly outbreak.

Australian researchers have made a critical breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, successfully growing the live virus from patients in NSW.

A team of 10 scientists at a state-of-the-art biosecurity P4 laboratory in Westmead Hospital have been working around the clock to cultivate the virus.

It's hoped that the breakthrough will help health experts around the world develop accurate and fast diagnostic tools to contain the outbreak.

"Early and accurate diagnosis of infectious and deadly viruses is critical because undiagnosed patients can unknowingly transmit it to others," said Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

"But unless clinicians understand the epidemiology of the disease – how it behaves and replicates - they can't develop reliable diagnostic testing to identify and contain it.

"A team of elite NSW researchers have achieved this by undertaking genome sequencing of the virus and growing the live virus from real patients as opposed to using synthetic materials."

NSW Health Pathology's Director of Public Health Pathology, Professor Dominic Dwyer, said the live strain of the virus will be shared with medical teams around the world.

"Being able to cultivate the novel coronavirus with samples from NSW patients as opposed to trying to mimic it from synthetic specimens is a terrific breakthrough," said Professor Dwyer.

"Synthetic virus tools don't offer the same high degree of diagnostic accuracy needed to help us develop effective antiviral drugs that can be used to treat infected patients.

"We're proud to be able to share our discovery with the World Health Organisation, and international researchers and clinicians, so together we ultimately help save lives."

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As of today, there are 15 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Australia, including five in Queensland, four in New South Wales, four in Victoria and two in South Australia.

In New South Wales, there have been four confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 22 more patients are currently under investigation.

Since February 2 - 14,459 people have been assessed at Sydney International Airport, including 677 arrivals who touched down from mainland China this morning.

Of the four confirmed cases in NSW, three patients have been discharged and are recovering at home. They include a 53-year-old male, a 35-year-old male and a 21-year-old female.

The fourth patient, a 43-year-old male, remains in hospital.

Across the world, there have been about 37,562 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 813 reported deaths.

The fatality rate of coronavirus is currently 2.16 percent of infected patients.

Source: 9News

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