Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert
We are monitoring a respiratory illness outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first reported in Wuhan, China. We update this alert every day with the latest medical advice and official reports.
As at 06:30 hrs on 20 February 2020, we have confirmed 15 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Australia:
- 5 in Queensland
- 4 in New South Wales
- 4 in Victoria
- 2 in South Australia
10 of the earlier cases are reported to have recovered. The other 5 are in a stable condition.
All of the cases in Australia had a direct or indirect link to Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
For questions about testing or the welfare of people with the virus, contact your state or territory health authority.
Across the world
Across the world, there have been about 75,302 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and 2,012 reported deaths. Of confirmed cases reported globally, the case fatality rate is approximately 2.7%. The case fatality rate in countries and regions outside mainland China is 0.6%
The majority of cases of COVID-19 have been reported from mainland China. 1,117 cases have been reported from 29 countries and regions outside mainland China.
Since yesterday there have been 104 new cases reported outside mainland China. 79 of these were associated with the Diamond Cruise ship in Japan. Over half of all cases reported outside of mainland China are associated with this cruise ship.
Why is there an alert
On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The Australian Government has issued this health alert as a precaution, based on the latest and best medical advice.
Learn more about coronavirus (COVID-19)
Find out more about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to protect yourself.
Separate fact from fiction by reading coronavirus myth busters on the World Health Organization website.
We also have a series of information sheets to help you, your family, health professionals, aged care workers, educational facilities, and the travel industry.
Information for the health sector
View our resources for health professionals, including pathology providers and healthcare managers and the weekly epidemiological reports published in the journal, Communicable Diseases Intelligence.
Also view the 2019-nCoV National Guidelines for Public Health Units for interim recommendations on:
- infection control
- laboratory testing
- contact management
Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the COVID-19 Plan) was endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on 17 February 2020.
The Australian Government will continue to monitor the emerging information and evidence closely. It will work with jurisdictions, through key committees and other relevant experts, to adapt the COVID-19 Plan as new information becomes available.
The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the COVID-19 Plan) guides the Australian health sector response.
Who is at risk
In Australia, the people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:
- recently been in mainland China
- been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of coronavirus
If you are at risk
You need to isolate yourself if you are at risk of getting the virus:
- If you have left, or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days, you must isolate yourself for 14 days from the date of leaving mainland China.
- If you have been in close contact with a proven case of coronavirus, you must isolate yourself for 14 days from the date of last contact with the confirmed case.
You do not need to isolate yourself if you have only travelled in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.
Travellers and visitors
On 20 February 2020, the Australian Government supported recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to maintain current strict travel restrictions. These will be reviewed in one week. Read the statement from the AHPPC.
Do not travel to mainland China. This is the latest China travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents) who are in mainland China, will not be allowed to enter Australia until 14 days after they have left or transited through mainland China.
Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family will still be able to enter Australia, as well as airline crews who have been using appropriate personal protective equipment.
- hold a visa for Australia or have applied for a visa, read the coronavirus fact sheet for visa holders and applicants
- are planning to travel to or transit through Australia, read the current travel restrictions
- plan to travel overseas, check the latest travel advice
- are concerned about someone overseas, call the DFAT consular emergency line
If you are on board an international flight and show signs of an infectious disease:
- the airline must report you to biosecurity officers
- biosecurity officers will assess you before you get off the plane
- you may be isolated or referred to a hospital
Australians in quarantine
The Australian Government has assisted 546 people to depart Wuhan, including 6 consular officials and 8 citizens of Pacific countries.
To support the quarantine process, North West Point Immigration Detention Centre (Christmas Island) and Howard Springs Accommodation Village (Darwin) (Manigurr-Ma Village Howard Springs) will act as human health response zones.
After 14 days in quarantine, 278 people were medically cleared and returned home.
The 266 passengers who arrived on a flight on 9 February, will be quarantined in Darwin until at least 23 February 2020.
No Australians remain in quarantine on Christmas Island.
Australians in Wuhan or Hubei Province
Some Australians (including dual nationals) are still in Wuhan or Hubei Province. If this is you and you want to leave, call the DFAT consular emergency line.
The Australian Government is working with the Chinese Government on another assisted departure, but do not rely on this. If possible, leave by commercial flight as soon as you can.
DFAT is aware of some Australian children who remain in Wuhan with family.
We are exploring options to assist these children to come home.
Australians in other parts of China
You should follow the latest China travel advice and leave by commercial flight as soon as you can.
Australians on cruise ships
There are several cruise ships affected by coronavirus developments. DFAT is providing consular assistance to Australians hospitalised and quarantined overseas because of COVID-19.
If you are concerned about someone on one of the following cruise ships, please call the DFAT consular emergency line.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship
The Australian Government has assisted 170 people to depart Japan, including 6 New Zealand citizens.
The Qantas flight departed Tokyo early this morning and is expected to arrive in Darwin today.
Once passengers arrive in Darwin, they will undertake a 14 day quarantine period at the Howard Springs Accommodation Village (Manigurr-Ma Village Howard Springs).
The Australian Embassy in Tokyo continues to provide consular support to 47 passengers in Japan who have tested positive to COVID-19, as well as those who chose to remain behind in Japan, and those who have opted to finish quarantine on the Diamond Princess.
Any passengers from the Diamond Princess who were not on the Qantas charter flight will not be allowed on other flights to Australia until Wednesday 4 March 2020.
The total number of passengers and staff aboard the Diamond Princess that have tested positive for COVID-19 is 542, including 88 new cases announced on 17 February 2020.
There were 47 Australian citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess as of 20 February 2020.
An AUSMAT officer, Dr Paul Armstrong, who is both a public health and infectious disease specialist, is in Japan to assess the situation and provide advice back to Government.
There is a dedicated support line for Australians quarantined on the Diamond Princess. It provides mental health and counselling support. The support line number is +61 2 9165 5053
The Westerdam cruise ship
We continue to provide direct consular support to the Australian passengers and crew of the Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
There were 78 Australians and one permanent resident (UK) onboard, of which 44 have departed Cambodia.
Of the remaining passengers, 32 are in Phnom Penh making arrangements to return to Australia, including 10 who disembarked the ship yesterday. These passengers have all returned negative test results for COVID-19.
We expect test results for the 4 Australian crew who remain on board in the coming days.
On 16 February, a United States citizen who had been on the Westerdam was diagnosed with COVID-19 after disembarking in Cambodia. While it is considered very low risk as the Westerdam did not visit China, all people who were on the Westerdam who have returned to Australia should isolate themselves for 14 days after leaving the vessel.
It is also recommended that passengers returning to Australia should wear surgical masks while on their flights and practise good hand hygiene to lower the risk of transmission.
We are delivering more Australian education services online and offshore for international students. To find out more and for support, go to coronavirus updates for international students on the Study in Australia website.
What we are doing
Australia is well prepared. We have plans that we are adapting as we learn more about the virus and how it spreads.
Australian Government agencies and state and territory governments are working together to coordinate an evidence-based response. This includes:
- providing information in English and Chinese based on the latest medical advice, including through Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, WeChat and Chinese newspapers
- applying a 14-day isolation period to people at risk of getting coronavirus
- applying travel restrictions to reduce the number of travellers from mainland China
- organising assisted departure for Australian citizens in Wuhan
- tracing coronavirus cases
- continuing to screen travellers who arrive in Australia
- continuing with border surveillance
- applying enhanced border measures at international air and sea ports, including announcements and signs
State and territory health authorities are:
- testing anyone who shows symptoms of the virus
- monitoring close contacts of confirmed cases every day