ScoMo warns of coronavirus ‘pandemic’

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned Australians to prepare for a coronavirus "pandemic" as the government implements its emergency response plan.

Mr Morrison told reporters there is "every indication the world will soon enter the pandemic phase of the virus".

He said the government had moved ahead of the World Health Organisation and was now effectively operating on the basis a pandemic had been declared.

"In the last 24 hours … the data regarding the rate of transmission of the virus outside of China is fundamentally changing the way we need to now look at how this issue is being managed here in Australia," he said.

"We believe the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us and as a result as a government we need to take the steps necessary to prepare for such a pandemic."

Health Minister Greg Hunt with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, during a Coronavirus Press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage
Health Minister Greg Hunt with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, during a Coronavirus Press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Gary Ramage

Mr Morrison said the decision to introduce the first phase of the country's emergency response plan was "being taken in an abundance of caution".

"We have always acted with an abundance of caution on this issue, and that has put Australia and the strong position we are in to this time in being able to contain the impact of this virus," he said.

"The actions we are now taking in being prepared even further, is to ensure that we can respond immediately when these, the virus moved to the next level."

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said there was likely more cases of the coronavirus would hit Australia.

"The likelihood is somewhere sometime there is a further round of cases that may make it to Australia," he said.

"(If) this becomes a truly global event, a truly global pandemic than it is overwhelmingly likely to have some effect."

Scott Morrison has said the government is preparing for a ‘global epidemic’. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Scott Morrison has said the government is preparing for a ‘global epidemic’. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, said the plan that has been activated today has been built on the plan that was created for the swine flu pandemic.

"All of the elements that are in that plan, are very similar to our pandemic influenza plan. We

learned from the pandemic 10 years ago when we had the swine flu epidemic," he said.

"We looked at that plan and modified it on the basis what we learnt. Now we know more about this virus, how it spreads, how infectious it is, how likely it is to cause severe illness and in which type of people it may cause severe illness."

Dr Kelly stressed that for 80 per cent of people the coronavirus is a mild illness but they were preparing for "all eventualities in terms of when it may or may not come to Australia" and how many people may be impacted.

More to come.


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