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DFAT working to extricate Aussies trapped in Wuhan

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Department of Foreign Affairs is working with Chinese authorities to get Australians trapped in the city dubbed ‘ground zero’ of the deadly coronavirus outbreak back home.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says the Federal government is working with Chinese authorities to find ways to extricate Australians trapped in the city dubbed 'ground zero' of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Hundreds of Australian nationals are trapped in Wuhan and the wider Hubei province, where 56 people have already died from the highly infectious disease and a further 2000 cases have been confirmed.

China cut off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan this week, as well as public transportation within the city, and has steadily expanded a lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million - greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

Amid the lockdown, countries like the US and France have been trying to evacuate their citizens from the central Chinese city.

The government's announcement comes after NSW Health confirmed a fifth case in Australia - a young Chinese woman in Sydney who tested positive for 'probable' coronavirus late on Sunday.

The young woman's condition will be confirmed by further test results tomorrow.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Ms Payne acknowledged the fears of those Australians who had been trapped by the lockdown, including dozens of children.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is working closely with Chinese authorities and international partners to consider possible assistance with travel for Australians from areas that are affected by Chinese travel restrictions," the statement read.

"Given the circumstances of the spread of the coronavirus, Chinese authorities are currently imposing very tight restrictions on all travel from Hubei.

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"We are seeking advice from the Chinese authorities on these restrictions and whether any options are available to international travellers."

While the Australian government doesn't have a consulate in Wuhan, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was working with their Embassy in Beijing and their consulate in Shanghai to provide support to Australians in the affected region.

The coronavirus as seen under a microscope.

The death toll in China has climbed to 56, with 2000 confirmed cases and a further 2600 people suspected of being infected.

Coronaviruses are transmitted by animals and people, and the Wuhan strain has been linked to a market in the city that was selling seafood and live animals, including wild species. The Chinese government announced Sunday that is banning all sales of wild animals throughout the country

Beijing will deploy an additional 1,600 medical professionals to Wuhan to help the city cope with the growing number of coronavirus patients, health officials said.

A Victorian man in his 50s became the first confirmed case in Australia yesterday. Hours later, NSW Health confirmed that three people in the state also had the disease.

All of those infected had travelled to the Wuhan or Hubei areas in China or had contact with someone confirmed to have been infected with the disease.

Four people in NSW who were under investigation for coronavirus earlier today after presenting with symptoms have been cleared.

The priority remains ensuring overseas visitors are vigilant in reporting any symptoms to avoid the spread of the virus.

"The issues particularly for Health today is that we want to make sure that any of our visitors, or indeed, Chinese Australians, who have been to Wuhan, or had any connection with Wuhan or Hubei or come into contact with anyone who has been in that area, do take very great care in terms of any symptoms they may have," said NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard.

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Source: 9News

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