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Coronavirus update LIVE: Australia braces for rise in COVID-19 cases as US records second death

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide up to $100 million to improve detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations in Africa and South Asia; and accelerate the development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics, they wrote on their website on Monday.

“We will immediately commit up to $100 million for the global response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV),” the statement read.

Big donation: Melinda and Bill Gates.

Big donation: Melinda and Bill Gates.Credit:Getty Images

“The funding will help strengthen detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protect at-risk populations; and develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. The new funding is inclusive of $10 million the foundation committed to the outbreak in late January.”

The Gates are some of the biggest philanthropists in the world, with their foundation, which was set up 20 years ago, being worth close to $50 billion with them personally donating the lions’ share of that. 

US health officials say a second person had died from the coronavirus in Washington state, which now has 12 confirmed cases. 

Researchers said the virus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in the greater Seattle area.

In a statement, Seattle authorities said a man in his 70s died Saturday local time. On Friday, a man in his 50s died of coronavirus.

Both men had underlying health conditions, and both were being treated at a hospital in Kirkland, Washington, east of Seattle.

Authorities in the Seattle area said two more people had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, both men in their 60s who were in critical condition, and two health care workers in California were also diagnosed.

New York City has also diagnosed its first case today. 

Another 50 people in a nursing home in Kirkland are sick and being tested for the virus. On Sunday night, the International Association of Fire Fighters said 25 members who responded to calls for help at the nursing home are being quarantined.

The first US case was a Washington state man who had visited China, but several recent cases in the US have had no known connection to travellers.


Speaking with reporters just now, Health Minister Greg Hunt was asked what message he would send to the roughly 150 Australians who remain trapped in Wuhan.

Mr Hunt said there were unfilled places on the flights arranged by DFAT.

“Everybody was contacted, and all were offered. However we are constantly reviewing the situation. At this stage, however, we have no further plans for evacuations out of Wuhan. Alright, thank you very much. We will have to finish now,” Mr Hunt said.

Australians and permanent residents in Wuhan have previously told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that they wanted, but were unable to secure seats on the flights back to Australia.

Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy says it is “no longer possible” to prevent new cases of coronavirus from entering Australia.

He has recommended that Australians returning from Italy or South Korea who work as a healthcare worker, or as a residential aged care worker, should not attend their regular work for 14 days.

“We have got concerns about Japan and South Korea. They are working hard to control their outbreaks but we are still concerned that people look about those countries and any other high risk countries and may present with a infection,” Professor Murphy said.

Travel bans currently in place are “a way of slowing things down,” he said. The outbreaks in Italy and South Korea – while large – were confined and localised, and a travel ban was not justified to protect the Australian community. 

Professor Murphy said the most important thing for anyone coming from an area of risk is to monitor their health and isolate if they become unwell, with any flu-like symptoms, contact their doctor or the hospital and let them know.

“That is the time when people are most infectious is when they are symptomatic,” he said.

The latest evidence suggests the incubation period is generally less than 10 days, but the international community it sticking with a 14-day period for quarantine measures as a precaution.

“Additional precaution of asking people to isolate from Iran and those people working with vulnerable people from South Korea, and Italy, particularly northern Italy, is because some people may develop mild symptoms and we would not want to expose healthcare situations or aged care situations to people who may be earlier in the stages of a disease.”

Victoria has no immediate plans to roll out free flu vaccines more broadly and any changes to the immunisation program would have to be approved by the Commonwealth and Australia’s Pharmacy Advisory Committee, the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said. 

Dr Sutton said it was impossible to predict at this early point what kind of flu season will Victoria will have. He said, however, authorities were keeping a close eye on the Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System with the flu season due to peak in June or July.

Victoria’s chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton has urged anyone who was on flight Malindo Air Flight number OD177 (from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar, then Melbourne, arriving just after 6am on Friday) to contact authorities after a woman in her 30s who had travelled from Iran tested positive to coronavirus.

Reporters were told on Monday the woman developed symptoms after the flight before presenting in a Melbourne hospital. A close contact of the woman is currently being tested for the virus, but it is understood she did not come into contact with anyone else since arriving in Australia.

Dr Sutton said the Victorian health department had asked the federal government to confirm how many people were on the flight, but were yet to get the numbers.

“My understanding she is not too unwell and is in a stable condition,” Dr Sutton said. He said it was “unlikely” but not impossible other passengers on the flight have contracted the virus as it was typically transmitted through droplets rather than air circulating in the plane.

ITB Berlin, one of the world’s largest travel trade shows, has been cancelled, citing coronavirus risks.

More than 130,000 people were due to travel to the German capital next week for the event. The cancellation came after authorities put a new requirement on show organisers to prove that all participants “do not come from the defined risk areas or have had contact with a person from the risk areas”.

The coronavirus has been circulating undetected and has possibly infected scores of people over the past six weeks in the US state of Washington, according to a genetic analysis of virus samples that has sobering implications for the entire country amid heightening anxiety about the likely spread of the disease.

The researchers conducted genetic sequencing of two virus samples. One is from a patient who travelled from China to Snohomish County in mid-January and was the first person diagnosed with the disease in the United States. The other came from a recently diagnosed patient in the same county, a high school student with no travel-related or other known exposure to the coronavirus.

The two samples look almost identical genetically, said Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle who announced the results of the research on Twitter late Saturday night and said there are “enormous implications”. 

Washington Post

A person in New York City has tested positive for coronavirus, the first diagnosis so far in the USA’s most populous city. 

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has released a statement saying there is no reason for “undue anxiety”, that the person contracted the virus while in Iran and is isolated. 

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