First human-to-human transmissions in Aus

The first human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus has been confirmed inside Australia.

Three more cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in NSW, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to nine.

Two of the people who have been recently diagnosed had not travelled outside of Australia, with authorities believing it is the first cases of human-to-human transmission in the country.

A man who arrived from Iran on Saturday has been confirmed as having the virus. Since then his 41-year-old sister, who did not travel to Iran, has also been confirmed as having the virus.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there is a "high likelihood" that the woman contracted the virus from her brother when he returned home.

A 53-year-old Sydney health worker is also believed to have contracted the virus via person-to-person transmission after treating a female patient for the illness.

NSW Health authorities initially believed the man didn't have the coronavirus but a third test proved he was infected.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard has urged Aussies not to shake hands and to pat each other on the back instead. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has urged Aussies not to shake hands and to pat each other on the back instead. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

"That is particularly concerning as he has not travelled overseas for at least three months," Mr Hazzard said.

"That would indicate a second case that is highly likely of transmission on NSW soil."

All patients are being treated at Sydney's Westmead Hospital.

Mr Hazzard advised people to be "cautious but not alarmed" and said there was a number of steps people could be taking to keep themselves healthy.

"I won't be changing anything about what I do on a day-to-day basis. I will still be enjoying eating at a Chinese restaurant, I feel totally and absolutely safe in that situation," he said.

"I also think it is a sensible step though for us all to recognise that trying to make sure there is no transmission to any of us that may had exposure.

"It is a very Australian thing to do to put your hand out and shake hands for example. I would be suggesting it is time that Aussies actually gave each other a pat on the back for the time being. No hand shaking, it's not necessary."

Mr Hazzard also said that while he wouldn't tell people to stop kissing, they should "exercise some degree of caution" when doing so.

Up until now all cases of the coronavirus inside Australia have been from people who arrived in the country after travelling internationally.

This comes after The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that authorities were concerned a Sydney man, understood to be a medical worker, could become the first person to contract the disease through person-to-person transmission.

The man in his 50s was understood to have recently started showing signs of the virus and was being tested in a NSW Hospital.

"Additional specimens were collected overnight and are being tested today to confirm whether or not he has the infection," a NSW spokesperson said yesterday evening.

"He is currently being cared for in hospital. No more personal details relating to this patient will be released at this stage."

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