A second case of novel coronavirus was confirmed on the Gold Coast yesterday. A 42 year-old woman, who had been travelling in the same tour group as the man diagnosed with the coronavirus on January 28, has also now been isolated at the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH), and is stable.
Contact tracing is underway, which will allow Queensland Health to provide information to guests of the hotel this group was staying in, and to other passengers on Tigerair flight #TT566 from Melbourne to the Gold Coast on 27 January 2020. Any passengers who were on this flight should call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice.
The seven other people from the same tour group remain in isolation in GCUH.
Global health emergency
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now declared a global health emergency.
‘The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill prepared to deal with it,’ said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The ABC has reported that this is only the sixth time that the WHO have declared a this kind of emergency with 7,818 cases confirmed by Chinese health authorities.
According to the BBC the death toll now stands at 170 people in China.
‘The WHO said there had been 98 cases in 18 countries outside of the country, but no deaths.
‘Most cases have emerged in people who have travelled from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began. However, there have been eight cases of human-to-human infection – in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the United States.’
Looking for a vaccine
Responding to the coronavirus outbreak the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has commenced key research as part of a rapid global response. CEPI is a global group that aims to derail epidemics by speeding up the development of vaccines, has engaged CSIRO to help determine the characteristics of the current virus – a key step in developing a new vaccine.
The work will be undertaken at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), CSIRO’s high-containment facility in Geelong, the only Physical Containment Level 4 (PC4) lab in Australia, and one of only five in the world.
‘CSIRO has been on the front line of biosecurity for 100 years. From hosting Australia’s most secure biosecurity lab, to developing the world’s first effective flu treatment and a vaccine for the Hendra virus, to more recent research on pathogens like SARS,’ CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said.
The research aims to paint a clearer picture of the new coronavirus, including how long it takes to develop and replicate, how it impacts on the respiratory system and how it can be transmitted.
Once information around where the virus originated and how it spreads becomes clearer, the CSIRO team at AAHL can begin testing of new potential vaccines being developed by a CEPI-led consortium that includes the University of Queensland and CSIRO.
The consortium was established to create a rapid response pipeline for developing and testing new vaccines, aiming to reduce development time from years to weeks.