Advice regarding Novel Coronavirus has been emailed to all parents. Please find a Victorian government fact sheet below.
Last updated: 30 January 20
The Department of Health and Human Services is working closely with the Victorian health sector, Commonwealth and international agencies to respond appropriately to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Hubei Province, including Wuhan City, in China.
This is a rapidly changing situation. Please go to: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/novelcoronavirus for updates.
At this time, there have been confirmed cases in Victoria. If you think you may have novel coronavirus, please call the dedicated hotline 1800 675 389. This hotline is serviced by Nurse-on-Call. Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies.
What is novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS-CoV and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
This novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Am I at risk?
Australian health authorities have declared the people at highest risk of developing novel coronavirus are:
• People who have traveled to Hubei Province, China in the past 14 days
• Close contacts of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus
• People who have attended a healthcare facility in China in the past 14 days
Who is most at risk of infection with this novel coronavirus?
Some people will not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily, and others may become very ill quite quickly. Because this is such a new infection, little is known about why some get sick while others do not, and in whom there is a greater or lesser risk of serious infection.
Experience tells us that people with compromised immune systems, the very old and young and those with diagnosed heart and lung conditions are most at risk of developing complications if they contract an infection like this.
Healthcare workers are potentially at risk of infection if they are in close contact with a case of novel coronavirus infection. As a precaution, advice has been provided to healthcare workers on simple steps to reduce the risk of transmission. It is important to regularly wash your hands. Healthcare workers should wear a simple mask, gown and gloves when assessing people who might have 2019-nCoV.
What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus?
People with 2019-nCoV are most likely to have a fever, and may have respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. While most people do have a fever, not all cases have reported this symptom. More information is coming to light as people are identified with this new infection, so advice may change over time.
While the 2019-nCoV has caused deaths, and some cases overseas have been severe, early intelligence suggests that the virus is not likely to cause illness of the severity that was seen in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2003.
How does novel coronavirus spread?
Health authorities around the world are working hard to figure out how the 2019-nCoV virus spreads.
Most people who initially caught the virus either worked or visited the Wuhan seafood market in central China. There have now been many more cases not linked to the market with further spread occurring outside Wuhan City, including transmission to healthcare workers.
It now appears that the virus is spread from cases to close contacts, such as members of the same household. There is evidence that people are infectious before they begin to show symptoms of the virus.
What areas are a risk for novel coronavirus?
The situation is changing rapidly as more people are identified with this infection. At the current time, most cases are occurring in people who have travelled to Hubei Province, China. If other cities, areas or countries become a significant risk, the department will update resources like this factsheet to advise which areas are a significant risk.
What is the Victorian Government doing about this problem?
The Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services is working with health authorities across Australia and the world to monitor and track the situation. The department is also working closely with health services and health professionals in Victoria to provide clear advice on assessing patients, testing people who may have the infection and advising how health workers can protect themselves as a precaution.
Just like other states and territories, Victoria has well-established procedures to ensure people arriving at ports of entry like Melbourne Airport are assessed for illness. Airlines are already required to report passengers who show signs of an infectious disease on a flight, including fever, sweats or chills, so sick travellers can be met by biosecurity officers when they arrive in Australia and be assessed.
Following a meeting with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the Chief Medical Officer is now recommending a precautionary approach which means people who have been in the Hubei province of China must be isolated in their home for 14 days after returning even if they do not have symptoms.Following a meeting with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the Chief Medical Officer is now recommending a precautionary approach which means people who have been in the Hubei province of China must be isolated in their home for 14 days after returning even if they do not have symptoms.
Currently there are no direct flights from Wuhan into any Victorian airport.
What should I do if I recently returned from Hubei Province, China?
If you have recently travelled to Hubei Province in China you are advised to stay at home and avoid public settings until 14 days after last being in Hubei Province. You are not required to stay at home if you have travelled to other provinces in China or any other areas where there have been reported cases unless:
• You are a confirmed case of novel coronavirus; or
• You are a close contact of a confirmed case of novel oncornavirus in the past 14 days; or
• You have attended a healthcare facility in China in the past 14 days.
What should I do if I think I might have novel coronavirus infection?
At the current time, it is very unlikely that a person could develop this infection unless they have travelled to an affected area in China in the 14 days before they have become unwell.
If you are ill and have travelled to Hubei Province, China, in the 14 days prior to onset of your illness, you should call ahead to your general practitioner before attending and inform them of your concern. You will then be isolated in a room, where available, and your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and where you have travelled.
If there is a risk of the infection, your doctor will take a sample from your nose and throat and will organise for that sample to be tested at a laboratory to determine if you have 2019-nCoV infection. You will be asked to isolate from other people while this testing takes place.
Can my child go to school?
Exclusion from school/childcare: In accordance with national public health guidelines and current information about the coronavirus from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer and the World Health Organization, exclusion of students who have travelled to Hubei Province, China, or any other areas where there have been reported cases, is required for 14 days after leaving the affected area or having close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus.
If you or your child feels sick now or within 14 days of being in Hubei Province, including Wuhan City, mainland China or other countries with cases in the last 14 days:
• If your child has a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, they must be excluded from school and be reviewed by a doctor.
• Seek medical attention but first place a mask on your child if you have one and call the doctor or hospital before you attend. Tell them your child has been in Hubei province, China, or the location of travel within China.
• When you get to the hospital or doctor’s clinic, tell them where your child has travelled in China and whether this included Hubei Province. Ensure a mask is placed on your child before or as soon as you arrive at the medical facility.
If your child has severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath:
• Call 000 and request an ambulance, and
• Inform the paramedics where your child has been in China.
How do we treat the 2019-nCoV infections?
There is no specific treatment for disease caused by novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment will be based on the patient’s clinical condition.
How do I protect myself and my family?
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to pay attention to good hand and respiratory hygiene.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue, or cough into your elbow, dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards. Wash your hands regularly, after using the toilet and before eating.
If you have concerns about your health, please see your doctor.
Healthcare workers are recommended to consistently apply appropriate infection prevention control measures (standard precautions) when looking after patients.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
Face masks are not recommended for use by members of the public in Victoria for the prevention of infections like novel coronavirus. Should any health professional be required to treat a suspected or confirmed case, they will be supported by following standard infection control guidelines.
Where can I find out more information?
For Victorian updates to the current incident, go to: www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/
For national updates: https://www.health.gov.au/news/latest-information-about-novel-coronavirus
For international updates: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus
WHO resources https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus