Last updated 29 January 2020
An outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was detected in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. Cases have been reported predominantly in the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China, as well as some other Chinese cities and countries, including two confirmed cases in Victoria, Australia.
What is this virus?
Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The virus seen in Hubei Province, China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It has not been detected before this outbreak. Most people infected live in, or travelled to, Hubei Province, China. There have been cases of 2019-nCoV reported in other Chinese provinces and other countries. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is now evidence that it can spread from person-to-person.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath. Symptoms can take up to 14 days to develop.
What if my child is well, and returning to school after being in Hubei province, China or other countries with cases in the last 14 days?
All students and staff members who have travelled to Hubei Province, China, are advised to stay at home and avoid public settings, including attendance at schools and early learning centres, until 14 days after last being in Hubei province, China.
Children and staff who are well and have travelled to other provinces in China, or any other areas where there have been reported cases, are NOT recommended to be excluded from schools and child care services unless the following applies:
- The person is a confirmed case of novel coronavirus
- The person is a close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus in the past 14 days
What if my child feels sick now or within 14 days of being in Hubei Province, China or another part of China?
- If your child has a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, they must be excluded from school and be reviewed by a doctor.
- Seek medical attention but first place a mask on the student if you have one and call the doctor or hospital before you attend. Tell them your child has been in Hubei province, China, or the location of travel within China.
- When you get to the hospital or doctor’s clinic, tell them where your child has travelled in China and whether this included Hubei Province. Ensure a mask is placed on your child before or as soon as you arrive at the medical facility.
If your child has severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath:
- Call 000 and request an ambulance, and
- Inform the paramedics where your child has been in China.
How can I help prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV?
Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence. The most important actions are:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
Where can I get more information?
For Victorian updates to the current incident, go to: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/novelcoronavirus
For national updates: https://www.health.gov.au/news/latest-information-about-novel-coronavirus
For international updates: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus
WHO resources https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
Authorised and published by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne.
© State of Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services, January 2020.