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Rare child disease linked to COVID-19 ‘unlikely’ to reach Australia

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Chief Medical Officer has moved to calm fears after a surge in cases overseas.

The nation's Chief Medical Officer has moved to allay fears that Australian children are at risk from a rare but serious inflammatory disease believed to be linked to COVID-19.

A number of overseas countries, including the United States and Italy, have been investigating cases in areas that have been hard hit by coronavirus.

The disease is believed to cause inflammation in the walls of medium-sized arteries and can cause heart damage.

Symptoms of Kawasaki Disease in children.

Symptoms include a temperature, rash, red eyes, and inflammation in at least one organ.

But Professor Brendan Murphy has told the national cabinet, it's not expected to be a problem in Australia.

"We had a discussion on the very rare condition in children, which you've all heard about from overseas, the paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome," Prof Murphy said.

"I was able to brief them on the fact that this is extremely rare and probably unlikely to be seen in Australia, given our very, very low number of infections in children.

"It's still not clear what the association with the virus is for this condition, but it is extremely rare."

'You can't test your way out of quarantine'

Prof Murphy also clarified the situation around quarantine periods for returning travellers, confirming the compulsory quarantine requirements will remain in place indefinitely.

He dismissed reports that a negative test would allow travellers to leave quarantine early.

"I want to make it very clear that there is no amount of PCR testing or swab testing that can obviate the need for quarantine," Prof Murphy said.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy speaks during a press conference on May 01 2020.

"If you are a returned traveller from a risk area, and a quarantine requirement is in place, having a test done, a swab and a PCR done, just means whether you are positive on that day.

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"It doesn't mean that you're not incubating the virus, and it doesn't mean that you can get out of quarantine earlier.

"There's been a bit of misinformation around about that, but you can't test your way out of quarantine, unfortunately."

Elective surgery to return

 The CMO also flagged an increase in elective surgery, as officials become more confident in the ability of Australia's hospitals to cope with increased demand.

"Currently, there are only 50 COVID-related patients in hospitals around Australia. That is a wonderful statistic, and only 12 people on ventilators still.

"Our hospital capacity is around 50-60 percent. We are starting to see some increase, with elective surgery relaxations announced a few weeks ago.

"But there is now pretty good room for further expansion, and clearly in those states that are having essentially no cases, they want to go fairly quickly back to full elective activity.

"Those states that still have some transmission are probably going to take it a bit more gently. But everybody is now heading towards full elective surgery, which is a really important thing."

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Source: 9News

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