Aussies need to calm coronavirus panic

Australians are again being told not to panic as coronavirus continues to spread.
Australians are again being told not to panic as coronavirus continues to spread.

Australians have been told to put away the face masks and instead wash their hands more regularly, as state and federal health authorities roll out an emergency coronavirus plan.

As part of the plan, the federal government will shore up the supply of medicines and other necessities, as well as work on preparations for any major outbreak with aged care providers, GPs and specialists.

The states and territories will lead the work in relation to hospitals and respiratory clinics.

Federal, state and territory health ministers and key advisers met in Melbourne on Friday, a day after prime minister Scott Morrison announced Australia anticipated a global pandemic declaration by instigating its emergency response plan.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said after the meeting on Friday while new cases were expected, experience showed most cases were "very, very mild".

"While we are preparing and we are realistic about what might come in the future weeks, we are not in a situation where anyone needs to be concerned," Professor Murphy said.

"No one should go around wearing and wasting face masks."

The emergency plan also includes another week-long extension of the ban on people entering Australia from China.

And Australian Border Force is readying plans for extra measures at airports and shipping ports to ensure suspected infected travellers can be quarantined quickly.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said his department was not looking at temperature screening at airports, as it was not effective.

However, if officials suspected a passenger of being sick they "have the ability to have a conversation with that person", he said.

There are almost 83,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe with more than 2700 people dead in China and around 70 in other countries, including 26 in Iran. It has spread to 49 countries, seven more since Thursday.

The World Health Organisation says the coronavirus outbreak has reached a decisive point and urged countries to redouble efforts to contain its spread.

The virus began in China's Hubei province in December.

"This virus has pandemic potential," WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned.

Australia's deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly told ABC Radio National was "a bit surprised" the WHO hadn't yet declared a pandemic.

Mr Morrison, who discussed the issue with his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern in Sydney on Friday, warned the global spread of the virus would have a big impact on the Australian economy.

"We have a strong, stable financial base to address this, but we can't kid ourselves that the impact of the coronavirus globally, here in Australia, is not going to be significant," he said.

Fifteen people in Australia have been diagnosed with coronavirus and all have been cleared.

A further nine cruise ship passengers are being treated in their home states.

The latest case from the Diamond Princess cruise is a Perth woman who was diagnosed on Friday after her 78-year-old husband had earlier tested positive.

Australian Associated Press

This story Aussies need to calm coronavirus panic first appeared on Mandurah Mail.