NSW Health advice to travellers returning from Wuhan, China

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

As part of an international response, NSW Health will help Commonwealth Biosecurity staff at Sydney Airport monitor travellers returning from Wuhan, where there is an outbreak of novel human coronavirus.

Chinese Health officials have confirmed more than 200 cases of the infection, including people who travelled from Wuhan to other parts of China and to at least four other countries in Asia.

No cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected in NSW.

Director of Health Protection, NSW Health, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said advice is being provided to travellers who may have already returned to NSW from Wuhan as it can take up two weeks for symptoms to develop.

“Symptoms of the virus include a fever with respiratory symptoms such as a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath,” Dr McAnulty said.

“There is no need for alarm, but people should be aware of the emerging situation and if they develop symptoms on returning from affected areas overseas, they should call ahead before seeing their GP.

“This virus does not appear to spread easily between people, but anyone with symptoms should practise simple hygiene by covering their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow and washing their hands thoroughly.”

While the Australian Government Department of Health in consultation with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture has the lead for health matters at the Australian border, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said public health officials here are working with the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions to monitor the situation in China.

“Sydney is a popular destination for people travelling from China especially around the time of the Lunar New Year, so up-to-date health advice is paramount,” Mr Hazzard said.

Health workers in NSW public hospitals as well as community-based General Practitioners have already been issued precautionary advice to help them identify any cases of the infection and to apply careful infection control measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. NSW Health will continue to update all relevant health professionals: www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/default.aspx

NSW Health has made novel coronavirus 2019 a notifiable disease under the Public Health Act. Under this requirement, doctors and laboratories must report any suspected cases to NSW Health.

NSW Health has developed and exercised a range of procedures for case finding, diagnosis, and contact tracing for high consequence infectious diseases (such as pandemic influenza, SARS, MERS, and emerging infections) should they occur in NSW.

People who are heading overseas should also check the advice on Smart Traveller (smartraveller.gov.au). General advice for overseas travellers includes avoiding animals (alive or dead) and animal markets, and avoiding close contact with sick people.