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29th of January, 2020

There has been a lot of news recently about a new infection known as novel coronavirus; also referred to as 2019-nCoV.

There have been six cases of novel coronavirus in Australia to date, with twoconfirmed in Victoria. The virus, which originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, can cause a range of symptoms.

The symptoms may appear as a mild infection with a fever, through to a significant respiratory infection (pneumonia). Common signs of infection include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In some cases overseas, people have died with pneumonia. The World Health Organization (WHO) has assessed that the virus can spread between people through close contact.

Little is presently known about this new infection. It does seem that people with weakened 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.

Ways to help stop infectious diseases from Washing hands can stop infections spreadingspreading

What we do know, is that there are some simple things we can all do to help prevent spreading infections from person-to-person.  These apply to many infectious diseases.

  • Encourage people around you to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, particularly after going to the toilet and before eating food. If soap and water aren’t available use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands

If you feel sick, avoid contact with others. If you are ill and have travelled to an area of the world where there is active transmission of novel coronavirus in the 14 days prior to onset of your illness, you should call ahead to your general practitioner or Emergency Department before attending and inform them of your concern and mention your recent travel and symptoms.

If you believe you may have the novel coronavirus, please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398. A free interpreting service is available by calling 13 14 50 – ask them to call us for you.

For current information on the novel coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and Human Services website here: www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/novelcoronavirus