National

Sick travellers told seek medical advice

By AAP Newswire

Australians that have recently travelled abroad and are now feeling unwell should be seeking medical advice immediately as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread across the world.

That's the advice of Queenland's chief medical officer Jeanette Young as one of two new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Australia resides in her state.

A 63-year-old woman who has recently returned from Iran is in isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

The beautician saw up to 40 people at a Southport salon on Thursday before she started to develop symptoms and went home.

"She saw a number of clients each for brief interactions, so we believe the risk is incredibly low," she said.

The other case is a 79-year-old west Australian woman has tested positive after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

There are now 25 confirmed cases across Australia.

Dr Young said the number of countries that have contracted the coronavirus is increasing each day.

"So it's very hard for individuals to work out which country is at risk," she told reporters in Brisbane on Saturday.

"It's really a message now, if you have been overseas, you come back to Queensland, you feel unwell with any symptoms, that you go and get advice."

According to the federal health department there are 84,117 cases world wide and 2872 reported deaths.

Overnight, the World Heath Organisation increased the risk of the spread of the disease to "very high", with the number of countries now infected rising to 55.

"The continuing increase in the number of cases and number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesushe said in Geneva.

He said that 24 Covid-19 cases have now been exported from Italy to 14 countries and that 97 cases have been exported from Iran to 11 countries.

The UN health agency had previously labelled the global risk as "high" but is still short of calling it a pandemic.

The Australian government isn't waiting and is already putting in place plans to tackle a pandemic.

In particular, it is looking at how aged care facilities could be locked down in the case of a coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says while some countries such as Japan are looking at closing schools, there is no need to do that in Australia based on current medical advice.

"The bigger impact would be in things like aged care facilities, the ability to lock those down, and to have the right care and support to those who are working in those places," Mr Morrison said on Friday.

Health ministers who met in Melbourne on Friday agreed the Commonwealth would take the lead on an aged care advanced planning process.

Federal opposition frontbencher Jason Clare said the government is doing the right thing even though the WHO has yet to declare a pandemic.

"They have followed the advice of the chief medical officer ... they have followed the advice of the experts," Mr Clare told ABC television on Saturday.