Deadly coronavirus confirmed in Victoria, Australia

Australian authorities have confirmed a case of the deadly coronavirus in Victoria.

It is the first confirmed case in the country. Five people are now being tested in New South Wales for the virus.

Victoria's Health Minister Jenny Mikakos confirmed the case and said the infected individual was a Chinese National aged in his 50s, who had visited Wuhan, where the illness is believed to have originated. He travelled to Melbourne from Guangzhou last week, but had no symptons while on his flight. Every passenger on the plane the man was on will be contacted in the coming days.

The man is currently in hospital in a stable condition. Before going to a hospital, the man went to a GP who didn't believe he had coronavirus. While at the doctors, he was double-masked.

Mikakos said there was no cause for alarm as the patient is isolated and there were no other suspected cases. Since the man returned to Australia, he has only been with family.

Officials are being stationed at Melbourne's Airport, while a hotline will be set up to provide information to the public about the virus.

"This is an evolving situation. We are now one of 11 countries who have confirmed cases," Mikakos said.

"I do want to stress... there is no reason for alarm in the general community. We have had flu epidemics in the past, including SARs and our system is geared up well to deal with this situation."

The virus originated at an animal market in Wuhan. More than 1280 people have been infected worldwide, with at least 41 people dead - all in China. Wuhan's public transport system has been shut down, while flights have also been halted. A 1000-bed hospital is currently being built in China for patients.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday it would not declare a global health emergency, despite cases of the virus being confirmed in Europe, as well as in the United States, Japan and Thailand. 

There are fears the virus is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which killed nearly 800 people in the early 2000s.

The new coronavirus can spread by human-to-human transmission. However, little is known about the illness. There is currently no vaccine for it. Officials are now trying to understand how efficiently the virus can spread to understand its potential threat.

"We can say it is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon," Zhong Nanshan, the scientist leading the expert panel on the oubreak, said. Two cases reported in Guangdong are believed to have come from human transmission. Medical staff there are also infected.

There are also concerns about the spread of the virus as China enters its busiest travel season with the start of the Chinese New Year. About 400 million people travel domestically and internationally during that period.

"Our commission will step up our guard during the Spring Festival, pay close attention to the development and change of the epidemic, and direct the implementation of prevention and control measures," the National Health Commission said on Monday.

Airports in China, the United States and Canada are screening passengers from Wuhan. However, WHO is yet to recommend any restriction to trade or travel.

"Countries are encouraged to continue strengthening their preparedness for health emergencies in line with the International Health Regulations (2005)."

WHO was first informed of cases of the virus in Wuhan on December 31. It was identified as a coronavirus on January 7.

"Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death," WHO says.

"Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing."