New Zealand officials give a press conference on “coronovirus”

New Zealand officials give a press conference on “coronovirus”

Likelihood
of sustained Wuhan virus outbreak is low – NZ officials

Radio NZ,

27
January, 2020

Health
officials are giving an update on New Zealand’s response to the new
coronavirus.

Director-General
of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Director of Public Health Dr
Caroline McElnay spoke to media about 2.30pm:

Director-General
of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were 2014 confirmed cases
with 98 percent of those in China. There were four cases Australia,
but the situation in NZ remained unchanged.


While
the likelihood of a case arriving in New Zealand was high, the
likelihood of a sustained outbreak in New Zealand remained low, he
said.


“As
in Australia with their first case, the person that was subsequently
diagnosed had in fact travelled and was asymptomatic when they came
into the country and developed symptoms a few days later. We may well
find ourselves in a similar situation.


“The
likelihood of transmission – if we do get a case – to another person,
is low to moderate because we are prepared and ready and at this
stage. Based on current information our assessment is the likelihood
of a sustained community outbreak remains low.


“By
sustained community transmission we’re talking about a situation were
there is a rapidly increasing number of cases … we don’t think that
will be the situation in New Zealand and that’s for a number of
reasons, one of them being the information we’ve got about the
infectiousness of this virus but also about our ability to respond,
to identify those initial cases and ensure that isolation is
happening and ensure that that person is not passing it on.”


Dr
Bloomfield said the public health advice remained the same – that
people should have good hygiene and isolate themselves if they are
unwell.


The
current border measures – which involved travellers arriving from
China being asked to come forward and be tested by a nurse if they
felt sick – would remain.


He
advised staying at home if sick, and said a cross-border response
group had met on Friday.


“It
has representatives from a range of government agencies. All
government agencies have been updated on the situations and on the
actions they can take as part of the cross-government effort,”
Dr Bloomfield said.


“The
border response has a particular emphasis on Auckland and
Christchurch airports that have direct flights arriving from China.”


He
said they did not plan to use quarantine powers, and doing so was
very unusual – people would tend to isolate themselves if they became
sick.


“I
don’t think we’d be in a situation where people are trying to hide
symptoms, there is a very high level of awareness of what people
should do,” he said.

Health officials gave an update on New Zealand's response to the new coronavirus.Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay spoke to media Monday 27th January 2020 at Ministry of Health in Wellington

Director-General
of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

group
of tourists who were assessed
 were
clinically found to be free from the virus, and did not need to be
quarantined or isolated.


“The
group was assessed by St John in Rotorua yesterday, three of that 19
had further assessment at the hospital and were clinically assessed
to be not displaying symptoms of a viral illness. There was no reason
to isolate those people.”

He
said the virus had relatively low infection rate of 2 percent to 3
percent – much lower than measles, for example.


“Just
to put that in context, that’s a relatively low fatality rate, just
as this virus has got relatively low infectiousness. So the current
data suggests that every person who might have the illness will
infect around two-to-three people, you can contrast that to measles,
where every case infects about 14 other people … the risk of people
dying in New Zealand would be similar to that in China.”


The
World Health Organisation had effectively not changed its advice in
the latest situation report, he said.


“There
remains some gaps in informations that all countries are seeking to
fill as quickly as possible. The WHO does not recommend any specific
measures for travellers and it also advises against the application
of travel or any trade restrictions on China, based on current
information.”


“There
are some reports out of China today that it’s possible people are
infectious before they show symptoms, but it is most important at the
border, that if they do become symptomatic, they know what to do.”


Director
of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said she did not think sustained
community transmission would happen and New Zealand was well
prepared.

Health officials gave an update on New Zealand's response to the new coronavirus.Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay spoke to media Monday 27th January 2020 at Ministry of Health in Wellington



Director
of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay Photo: RNZ / Patrice
Allen

Public
health protection officers and nurses were at Auckland and
Christchurch airports for the first time this morning, but 
no-one
on the first flights of the day from China into Auckland requested
help or temperature checks
.

Health
officials were still to review news that had come in overnight
that 
coronavirus
could infect people during incubation
.
The only test for coronavirus – a blood test – takes a couple of days
for results to be returned. New Zealand won’t have the ability to do
that test until later in the week, so samples would have to be sent
to Australia in the interim.


The
virus, which has killed 56 people so far, is believed to have emerged
late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in
Wuhan, Hubei. Cases have been confirmed in Japan, Taiwan, Nepal,
Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, the US, and France.


The
virus new, or “novel” coronavirus is of family that
normally affects animals. One human variant causes the common cold,
but another, Sars, killed hundreds in a major outbreak in 2003.


This
new virus causes severe acute respiratory infection. Symptoms seem to
start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week,
lead to shortness of breath and some patients needing hospital
treatment. There is no specific cure or vaccine.

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