Coronavirus: Contact tracing alert for customers of Queensland case
Coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people globally. Picture: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
The first coronavirus case in Australia with no links to China has been confirmed, with as many as 40 people now at risk of exposure to the virus after the infected woman worked at a Gold Coast shopping centre.
The 63-year-old woman is currently in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. She is in a stable condition.
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the woman had recently returned from Iran, where there are more than 388 confirmed cases and coronavirus is rapidly spreading.
Speaking to reporters at lunchtime Dr Young said the woman, who worked as a beautician on the Gold Coast, had arrived in Australia from Iran “perfectly well” on Monday.
She had shown no signs of illness on the flight or first days back in the country until Thursday when she began showing “minimal symptoms” of coronavirus.
The beautician began to feel unwell at work that and spoke to her manager before leaving to seek medical help.
The beautician worked at Australia Fair shopping centre.Source:Supplied
“She did everything perfectly, we couldn’t have asked more of her,” Dr Young said, describing the woman as a “highly intelligent, very sensible lady”.
The woman works at Hair Plus salon in Australia Fair, a shopping mall in Southport, where she does “very brief” facial treatments and the risk of infection is “incredibly low”, Dr Young said.
However, authorities want to speak with any customers who were at the salon on Thursday from 11am that day.
“We think it’s around 30, maybe 40 (clients the woman saw). That’s the information we’re sourcing at the moment from the salon,” Dr Young said.
“But we know they don’t have records of a lot of these clients because a lot pay by cash and they just come in, it’s a very short interaction.”
Dr Young stressed QLD authorities were only concerned about tracking down those who had been inside the salon that day, not Australia Fair.
“If you went to Australia Fair but did not go to that particular hair salon on Thursday, there is no need for concern,” she said.
There are now six confirmed cases of coronavirus in Queensland and a total of 23 across the country.
Among them are a 79-year-old West Australian woman who has tested positive after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
Globally there have been 84,119 confirmed cases of the virus and 2867 deaths. The vast majority of cases have occurred in China, however, there have also been major outbreaks in Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan. At least 45 countries have confirmed infections.
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the woman had recently returned from Iran. Picture: Brendan RadkeSource:News Corp Australia
US CORONAVIRUS CASES HAVE ‘NO KNOWN EXPOSURE’
Initially, international cases of coronavirus could be attributed to infected people travelling from China to other countries, but new reports suggest the virus may now be spreading in overseas communities.
Two cases have now been confirmed in the US, with despite having no known exposure to China or an infected case.
Earlier this week a person in California is believed to be the first American person to contract coronavirus despite not coming into contact with an infected patient or travelling outside the United States.
The Solano County patient had “no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual,” the California Department of Public Health said on Thursday.
“At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
“It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States.”
The case was picked up by “astute clinicians”, the CDC said, and health officials are now tracking down anyone the patient may have come into contact with.
On Friday a second case of unknown origin emerged in California, with a 65-year-old man from Santa Clara Contry diagnosed with coronavirus.
According to The Washington Post the man had no known history of travelling to areas where outbreaks had occurred and lived more than 140 kilometres away from the Solano County patient.
The state’s first and only coronavirus clinic is located next to the emergency department of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney’s inner west. Picture: Marnie O’Neill.Source:Supplied
Staff members wearing protective clothing while disinfecting a residential area in Ruichang, part of Jiujiang in China’s central Jiangxi province next to Hubei province. Picture: STR/AFP)Source:AFP
NSW CORONAVIRUS CLINIC SWAMPED BY CASES
Meanwhile back in Australia NSW’s only coronavirus clinic has been swamped with hundreds of suspected cases.
The clinic, which is being staffed by just one doctor and two nurses, is next to the emergency department of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in the inner west Sydney suburb of Camperdown.
According to Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) records, the trio has seen 300 people who presented with symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 — the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease — in a period of less than 30 days.
“About 220 of those who met the case definition required testing,” a NSW Health spokesman told news.com.au, adding none had returned a positive result so far.
“Those needing assessment for coronavirus are encouraged to ring ahead to the hospital,” NSW Health told news.com.au.
“On arrival (patients) are assessed by a triage nurse and if they meet the case definition, and coronavirus is suspected, swab tests are taken.
“The results can take between six and 24 hours, depending on the time of the test.”
The federal government is looking at how aged care facilities could be locked down in the case of a coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while some countries, such as Japan, were looking at closing schools, there was no need to do that in Australia based on current medical advice.
However, the virus affects the elderly more.
“The bigger impact would be in things like aged care facilities, the ability to lock those down, and to have the right care and support to those who are working in those places,” Mr Morrison said.
Health ministers who met in Melbourne on Friday agreed the Commonwealth would take the lead on an aged care advanced planning process.
“Those who are elderly or those who have difficulties with their immune system are most at risk and that is why they are absolute top priority,” federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Asked what would happen in the case of an outbreak at an aged care centre, Mr Hunt said it would depend on the circumstances.
Aged care providers received a letter this week from Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy outlining the need for them to have emergency plans in place.
Professor Murphy advised centre plans should consider factors such as: first steps if infection is suspected or identified; arrangements to ensure adequate care for the infected individual such as quarantine within the facility; protection measures for other residents, visitors and staff; and notification advice to families, carers and authorities.
“While the number of cases of COVID-19 is currently small in Australia, it is possible that this situation could change and services need to plan and be prepared for this,” he wrote.
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