The Federal Government has updated its travel advice for China, warning all Australians should now reconsider their need to travel to the country.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced the change just after midnight on Wednesday, adding no-one should travel to the Hubei province, where dozens of people have died and thousands more have been infected by the coronavirus.
“Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus we now advise you ‘reconsider your need to travel’ to China overall and ‘do not travel’ to Hubei province,” the advice on smartraveller.gov.au now reads.
“Chinese authorities have restricted travel for parts of the country and may extend these restrictions at short notice. Travellers may be quarantined, due to their health condition or previous location.
“If you’ve travelled to Hubei province and have developed symptoms of respiratory illness, contact your doctor,” the advice adds.
The update comes as fears continue to grow over the potential human-to-human spread of the flu-like disease.
On Tuesday, two more cases of human-to-human transmission were reported in Japan and Germany, raising concerns the virus could be more contagious than first thought.
The majority of the more than 45 cases of coronavirus confirmed outside of China so far have involved Chinese tourists or people who have visited Wuhan, where the outbreak originated.
However, a bus driver in the Japanese city of Nara caught the virus after driving two groups of Chinese tourists earlier this month, according to Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato.
A second man in Germany is believed to have been infected by a Chinese colleague visiting from China who visited his workplace.
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Previously, the only case of human-to-human transmission was thought to have occurred in Vietnam, where a person was infected by their father who had visited Wuhan.
“That’s still one case too many. But we’re encouraged that so far we have not seen more human-to-human transmission outside Vietnam,” the WHO had tweeted on Tuesday.
AUSTRALIANS QUEUE FOR FACE MASKS
The death toll from the coronavirus now stands at 106, with another 6,973 believed to be infected.
In Australia, long lines were spotted outside chemists in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday as people lined up to purchase face masks.
Meanwhile in Denmark, China has demanded an apology over an “insulting” cartoon printed in the country’s largest newspaper.
Jyllands-Posten published a satirical depiction of the Chinese flag with five yellow viruses in the top right-hand corner instead of stars on Monday.
The Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen now wants an apology from both the newspaper and the cartoonist, Niels Bo Bojesen, saying it was “an insult to China”.
“At the same time as the Chinese government and the Chinese people are making every effort to combat this unusual and urgent health threat, Jyllands-Posten has published a ‘satirical drawing’ by Niels Bo Bojesen which is an insult to China and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people,” the embassy wrote in a statement.
“Lacking any form of sympathy or empathy, (the cartoon) has transcended the lower boundaries of civilised society and the ethical boundary of freedom of expression, and insults human conscience,” it added.
But the chief editor of the newspaper, Jacob Nybroe, has refused to apologise for the cartoon, saying it “didn’t intend to mock or ridicule China”.
“We can’t apologise for something we don’t think is wrong,” he said on the newspaper’s website. “As far as I can see, there are two different types of cultural understanding here.”
WUHAN RESIDENTS BAND TOGETHER
In Wuhan, people were making the best of their situation as the city remained in lockdown.
On Monday night, residents of some high-rise apartment buildings joined together to sing the national anthem and other songs from their balconies and windows.
The anthem’s refrain, “Qilai, qilai, qilai!” or “Rise up, rise up, rise up!” echoed between the towers of skyscrapers in the city of 11 million, where streets have grown eerily quiet as families try to avoid contact with others who might be infected.
Others shouted “Wuhan, fight!”
– With wires