Potential for COVID-19 pandemic

An update by the WHO’s Director-General on Feb 24 included the following information: the epidemic in China has been declining since a peak and subsequent plateau from Jan 23-Feb 2; with mild infection recovery takes ~two weeks but three to six weeks in the event of severe/critical illness; and ‘the fatality rate is between 2% and 4% in Wuhan, and 0.7% outside Wuhan’.

The number of countries outside China reporting COVID-19 cases has risen to at least 40. Within the last few days, five more Middle Eastern nations reported cases linked to the outbreak in Iran, taking to eight those in the region recording COVID-19 infections (Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and the UAE); and Africa has its second case (first was in Egypt), with Algeria confirming an infection in an arrival from Italy. While in Europe, infections related to contact with travellers from Italy have been confirmed in four countries - Croatia, Austria, Switzerland and Spain (including Canary Islands).

Public health measures are in place in Australia in the event of further escalation of the epidemic – they include the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan For Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The federal health department has a number of resources available for the general public, health professionals and industry. Advice for Australians travelling overseas is to check the Smartraveller website and subscribe for updates.

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.