Scary development in virus spread
A man has begun developing coronavirus symptoms a whopping 27 days after coming into contact with an infected person, causing authorities to fear for the worst.
A 70-year-old man in China's Hubei Province was infected with coronavirus but did not show symptoms until nearly four weeks later, the Chinese government revealed yesterday.
This could prove a devastating blow to the world if the virus's incubation period is longer than the presumed 14 days.
The Chinese government named the man simply as Jiang, and revealed in a statement that he came into contact with his sister, who had been infected, on January 24.
But his symptoms appeared much later than expected.
Jiang developed a fever on February 20 and tested positive for coronavirus a day later, according to the government statement.
Australia's Department of Health recommends a self-isolation period of two weeks if one has been to China recently or come into contact with an infected person.
The department's advice has not changed, despite the development.
"The Australian Government's response to the novel coronavirus outbreak is evidence-based and proportionate," a Department of Health spokesperson told news.com.au.
"Australian authorities continue to monitor overseas developments closely.
"Our health emergency response arrangements are flexible and scalable, and are being tailored to most effectively respond to the evolving situation."
Last night, a seventh Australian rescued from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive to the potentially deadly disease.
Three more cruise passengers are awaiting test results.
Globally, there have been more than 78,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 2363 deaths.
The news of a 27 day incubation period comes hot on the heels of mounting panic from the World Health Organisation, who warned of a shrinking window to stem the spread of the deadly disease yesterday.
The warning came as Europe saw its first deaths from the COVID-19 strain, which has now reached more than 25 countries and caused more than a dozen fatalities outside China.
On Saturday, Italian news agency ANSA reported that a woman in the northern region of Lombardy had died after contracting the virus, a day after a 78-year-old man from the nearby Veneto region became the first local person in Europe to succumb to the illness.
The new wave of cases in Italy has also triggered a lockdown of ten towns - a move with echoes of China's sealing off of entire cities in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus where millions remain under quarantine.
A second person also died in South Korea, where the numbers of cases spiked, authorities said Saturday, while the death toll in Iran reached five and a number of new cases were reported across the Middle East.
As cases surged outside China, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the "window of opportunity" to contain the international spread of the outbreak was "narrowing".
He cautioned that if countries did not quickly mobilise to fight the reach of the virus, "this outbreak could go in any direction. It could even be messy."
The number of new cases in China outside Hubei has been generally declining, although new outbreaks have emerged in several prisons and hospitals.
On Saturday Chinese authorities reported nearly 400 fresh cases nationwide, less than half the previous day and just 31 outside Hubei.
A WHO-led team of experts are to visit Wuhan, the capital of the province, on Saturday.
Cases of the deadly virus were reported in a range of countries in the Middle East, including the first cases in Israel and Lebanon.
Iraq and Kuwait, which share borders with Iran, were on high alert for a potential outbreak after banning travel to and from the Islamic republic, although they have not confirmed any cases domestically.
More than 400 people have been infected in South Korea, many linked to a hospital and a religious sect, and two people have died, making it the hardest-hit country outside China.
The latest group of passengers disembarked from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan on Saturday.
Several Australians and an Israeli evacuated earlier this week after being cleared in Japan tested positive for coronavirus on landing back in their home countries - fuelling questions about Tokyo's policy of allowing former passengers to return home.
Two former Japanese passengers in their 80s have died.
The British government said an evacuation flight left Japan Saturday, with 32 British and European passengers on board.
As fears spread of the virus in Japan, Tokyo 2020 Olympic organisers postponed training for their army of volunteers due to the coronavirus outbreak - but said that there was "no consideration" of cancelling the Games.