WEDNESDAY JANUARY, 29
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the Federal Government will try to evacuate “isolated and vulnerable Australians” trapped in China because of the coronavirus.
The National Security Committee of Cabinet met earlier today, deciding to launch the operation after being briefed by Chinese authorities in Beijing in Monday.
Scott Morrison said children and elderly people in Wuhan would get priority where they will be taken to Christmas Island for quarantine.
So far the outbreak of the deadly virus has claimed more than 120 lives and infected more than 4,000 in China.
Details of the evacuation operation are still being finalised.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said more than 600 Australians had registered as being in Hubei province.
“Our focus in this proposed assisted departure is on supporting isolated and vulnerable Australian citizens,” Senator Payne said.
“We are endeavouring to make further contact with people who have given us their details.”
Australians are being told to reconsider any plans to travel to China due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
People were previously advised not to visit Hubei province, where the outbreak started, however the warning has now been extended to the rest of China.
A neighbour said she heard screams from a house where a boy was arrested after his step-mother died from multiple stab wounds.
NSW Police arrested a 16-year-old boy in Woolooware this morning and are questioning him at Sutherland Police Station.
Emergency services were called to a house at about 1:30am and found the 42-year-old woman with multiple stab wounds.
Paramedics treated her at the scene before she was taken to Saint George Hospital where she later died.
Neighbour, Payton Wilson, said she was sleeping when she heard a woman scream.
“Probably lasted like 20 to 30 seconds, just like obviously a woman, really high pitched, [it] sounded like she was in a lot of pain.
“There’s a lot of yelling that comes from that house previously anyway, so I didn’t think twice but I had no idea that was what was going down in there.”
Acting Police Superintendent Steve Worthington said authorities were still trying to determine the circumstances surrounding the stabbing.
“I’m unsure what sparked this we’re just still investigating,” he said.
“There’s a crime scene been established at the premises at Woolooware, and that examination is still underway as well.”
A major breakthrough in the global fight against coronavirus has taken place in Australia as scientists have developed a lab-grown version of the disease.
The discovery has been considered a “game changer” to help scientists determine whether a future vaccine is effective.
Experts at Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity became the world’s first scientific lab outside of China to recreate the virus.
They will now share it with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Europe, which will in turn share with labs worldwide involved in the worldwide race to develop a vaccine.
The team of scientists managed to grow the virus from a patient who had been infected since Friday.
Co-deputy director of the Doherty Institute, Mike Catton, told the ABC that the discovery was “vitally important” and would become a critical part of the toolkit to show if vaccines work, with scientists able to test any potential vaccine against the lab-grown version of the disease.
It will also help researchers to develop a test to identify people who might be infected with the virus, even before they show symptoms.
Doherty Institute lead scientist Julian Druce, who was with Dr Catton at the moment of discovery, described it as a significant development in the global understanding of the virus and for the response to it.
“This will be a game changer for other labs within Australia,” Dr Druce said.
Growing the virus will also help experts understand more about how the coronavirus behaves.
The Doherty Institute is the second lab in the world to recreate the disease after China discovered it first, however did not share its discovery with the WHO.
However, the same lab released images of the genetic sequence of the disease which helped scientists at the Doherty Institute recreate it.
Dr Catton said Australian scientific facilities were well prepared to deal with outbreaks like the coronavirus.
“This virus qualifies as a three out of four, so it’s a level three virus and that’s based off our understanding of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome), which are its close cousins,” Dr Catton said.
“It’s dangerous, it does kill some people, but it hasn’t got the lethality that viruses like Ebola do.”
He said early diagnosis of a disease outbreak like the coronavirus was important because it gave health authorities around the world a better chance of containing its spread and severity.
At this stage, coronavirus does not have a death rate as high as SARS.
“SARS we know had a death rate – a mortality rate – of about 10 per cent. This [coronavirus] appears to be 3 per cent; my personal opinion is it will turn out to be lower than that,” Dr Catton said.
Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said there has been no known human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in Australia.
“There is no cause for concern in the Australian public, there is no human to human transmission of this virus,” he said.
“It’s important to note because we had some media [ask] about masks today; there is no need for the Australian public to wear masks.”
Those who have the illness are being kept in isolation and all Australian-based patients are in stable conditions.
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