Why you don’t need to wear a face mask
There is no need to wear face masks to avoid novel coronavirus in Australia, according to the country's top medical officer.
Pressor Brendan Murphy assured Australians the only cases in Australia had been in people returning from Hubei or who had been in direct contact with confirmed cases.
"There is no reason for people to be wearing masks," he said
"There's no reason for people to avoid anybody of any particular background or appearance. I want to reassure the community."
He asked Australians to refrain from "abhorrent" racism towards the Chinese Australian community.
"We are very concerned about xenophobia and any sort of racial profiling which is completely abhorrent," Professor Murphy said.
"We're talking about a relatively small number of people just because of where they've been, not who they are. "
Health Minister Greg Hunt echoed his sentiment on Tuesday.
"There have been reports of discrimination, and I want to denounce and reject those absolutely and to say to the Australian-Chinese community, we thank you, we honour you and we respect you," he said.
"If there are shopping centres in areas that have particularly strong concentrations of people with Chinese-Australian backgrounds, there is no reason not to be there.
"That's an important message of safety, of solidarity and of respect."
The death toll has surged past 1000 and there are now more than 42,000 confirmed cases across the globe.
Fifteen people have so far been diagnosed with the virus in Australia, five of which have fully recovered.
One of the people taken to Christmas Island from Wuhan has been isolated while doctors await test results.
The travel ban for those travelling from mainland China is certain to be extended when the initial two-week exclusion period ends on Saturday.
The government has committed to reviewing it every two weeks but with no sign the virus is under control in China, the ban will be continued.
The extension of the ban, likely for another two-week period, will put further pressure on the embattled tourism industry and the university sector.
Christmas Island exiles set to go home
The first Australians to be quarantined over the coronavirus crisis will leave Christmas Island early next week, as the death toll in China rises above 1000 and the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns the spread of cases outside of China could be "the spark that becomes a bigger fire".
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the evacuees would face a final health check before leaving the island on Monday and Wednesday, after spending 14 days in quarantine.
"They will be able to go home subject to having a very clear process of having been checked and been declared disease-free," Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra.
A total of 530 Australians have been evacuated from China following the virus outbreak, heading into quarantine on Christmas Island and a worker camp near Darwin.
One person on Christmas Island is currently being tested for suspected coronavirus but Mr Hunt said doctors had advised there is a low probability of the person being positive to the virus.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the rate of growth globally appeared to be "flattening a little bit", but it was too early to draw any conclusions.
He said there was no reason for Australians to be wearing masks as they went about their business.
"There is no reason for anybody to be avoiding anybody of any particular background or appearance," he added.
Hubei province, the epicentre out the outbreak, reported 103 deaths on Monday - the most in any single day - after 91 deaths on Sunday. But the 2097 new cases was down from the previous day, when there were 2618.
There are now more than 42,000 confirmed cases in China as well as 319 cases in 24 other countries, including one death, according to WHO and Chinese health officials.
SECOND AUSTRALIAN ISOLATED ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND
According to The Australian, a second Australian has been isolated in quarantine on Christmas Island.
The media outlet photographed two female army personnel delivering a test sample to a man in army fatigues on Christmas Island.
The sample, said to be contained in a foam box marked "diagnostic specimen" and addressed to the Department of Microbiology at Westmead in Sydney, was then taken to a Hercules aircraft at Christmas Island airport.
An Australian Border Force spokesman reportedly told The Australian that the specimen was being sent to the mainland for a coronavirus test.
It came from an adult who was being isolated in their room at the Christmas Island detention centre until the test result was back.
It is the second known test ordered since the first Australians were rescued from the coronavirus epicentre Wuhan on February 3.
A girl was isolated in her accommodation at the Christmas Island detention centre last Friday after developing flu-like symptoms that prompted the Australian Medical Assistance Team to order a coronavirus test. The team learned on Sunday the test result was negative.
Medics screen Australians in quarantine daily with basic questions and by taking their temperature using an ear thermometer.
The Australian Medical Assistance Team on Christmas Island received parts for a diagnostic machine on Monday that would soon allow them to do coronavirus tests without needing to send samples to the mainland.
VIRUS INFECTS MORE AUSSIE CRUISE PASSENGERS
Another 65 people on board a quarantined cruise ship in Japan carrying 229 Australians have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus as the outbreak escalates.
The captain of the Diamond Princess told travellers there were 60 passengers and five crew in the latest wave of infections.
It is believed there are four Australians among the new cases. There are at least seven already being treated at medical facilities onshore.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is seeking to contact all of the passengers by email.
Among the Australians a 61-year-old woman, who asked not to be named.
She was taken off the ship on February 7 with few symptoms, but she said she began sneezing soon after she arrived at hospital.
"I came here feeling absolutely fine, now I don't," she told the ABC.
"I've definitely got a head cold. My head's all blocked up. At home I'd be taking some panadol and just getting on with my day."
Despite her minor symptoms, Japanese hospital staff are checking her every two hours.
"They're in here … checking on my pulse, checking on my blood pressure, taking the temperature and just keeping a really good eye on me," she said.
"I feel safe here, which is great."
Despite the ordeal, the woman said she would go on another cruise "in a heartbeat".
"At 2am this morning, I was googling the Princess (Cruises) website to see what I could book next," she said.
The Japanese government released the figures as its Health Minister said he was considering a plan to test everyone on board.
CNN reported that several crew members aboard the Diamond Princess have alleged that they are at risk of infection and appealed for help from the Indian government, according to a report.
At least 135 people - including five crew members - among the 3700 on board have tested positive for the illness, the ship's skipper, Capt. Stefano Ravera, said.
"We are extremely scared at this point in time," one of the employees, Binay Kumar Sarkar, said in a video obtained by CNN.
"Our request is to segregate the crew members from the infected."
He said neither he nor his colleagues had been checked for the virus.
Only a small proportion of the 3700 people on board the Diamond Princess have been screened.
They were chosen because they already showed signs of illness or had close contact with those who were sick.
More people have come forward for testing after passengers were provided with thermometers last week.
The new developments come as a World Health Organisation update suggests some people could remain in quarantine past the original two-week order imposed by the Japanese government.
The WHO note addressing the situation on the Diamond Princess states that close contacts of newly infected passengers will be asked to remain in quarantine beyond February 19.
The Diamond Princess is docked at Yokohama, near Tokyo, but making occasional trips out to sea for water and ballast operations.
Its lockdown began on Wednesday last week after some passengers and crew started falling ill.
The outbreak began after an 80-year-old man who disembarked a few days into the cruise in Hong Kong was found to have coronavirus.
Everyone on board has a thermometer for daily self-testing, and they are required to notify ship staff if they have a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius.
There were 223 Australians on the original manifest for a two-week cruise that started in Yokohama on January 20 with port calls in Kagoshima, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan and Okinawa.
As their ordeal enters a second week, passengers received a note from Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz detailing full refunds for the cruise and associated travel, as well as a credit for a future booking.
The offer is to "help ease at least a small bit of the stress you may be feeling right now", said the letter that was delivered to cabins late Sunday night.
Australian passenger Kimberly Vincent, 73, says the cruise operator has gone "above and beyond".
While she has received medication she needs to manage a life-threatening health problem, her 76-year-old husband Ellis is still waiting for painkillers to treat arthritis.
The distribution of prescription drugs has been a key concern for passengers, many of them elderly.
Mrs Vincent said she welcomes any move to test everyone on the ship, as long as the results are released in a timely fashion.
"I have no problem with it at all," she said of the plan.
"But if it took three to four days for the first lot of results to come through, I can't imagine how long it will take."
Meanwhile, passengers stuck aboard the Diamond Princess are being offered a cure for boredom - free webcam sessions with porn stars.
Adult site CamSoda is offering the nearly 3700 people suffering from cabin fever on the Diamond Princess, which is docked in Japan, gratis access to its models.
"They are not only dealing with the fear of infection, which is terrifying, but boredom," CamSoda VP Daryn Parker said.
"We like cruises just as much as the next guy, but without activities or human interaction, the boredom must be crippling.
"In an effort to keep their minds off of the coronavirus and to help with the boredom, we're offering passengers and crews the ability to have fun in a safe and controlled environment with camming".
The New York Post reports that the offer also was extended to those cooped up aboard the World Dream - but all 35 people who had reported symptoms tested negative and everyone was allowed to disembark after a four-day quarantine in Hong Kong.
CRUISE SHIP DIVERTED TO WA AMID VIRUS FEARS
A luxury cruise ship has been diverted to Fremantle amid concerns about the deadly coronavirus, which could cost Western Australia up to $300 million in tourism revenue.
Cruise operator Cunard has confirmed the Queen Mary 2 liner will skip scheduled stops in Singapore and several other cities, including Hong Kong.
The vessel will instead travel directly from Malaysia to Fremantle, arriving next Tuesday before embarking on an Australian itinerary.
Passengers and crew who had travelled from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau within the last 14 days would not be permitted to board.
"The health and safety of our guests and crew is of utmost importance to us," Cunard said in a statement."
Although the risk to our guests and crew is low, the coronavirus situation is dynamic and evolving."
The company said it would continue to conduct pre-boarding screening while the ship, which can carry about 4000 passengers and crew, would also be regularly disinfected.
WA is yet to record a coronavirus case, with more than 50 people having returned negative test results.
But the state's economy has taken a hit due to a combination of factors related to the outbreak, including a fall in the iron ore price.
AUSSIE BREAKTHROUGH IN VACCINE DEVELOPMENT
Researchers around the world are a step closer to creating a coronavirus vaccine after scientists in NSW managed to grow the live virus from patients in the state.
NSW Health Pathology doctors grew the virus from patients at Westmead Hospital by conducting genome sequencing - the process of breaking down a person's unique DNA sequence.
The results have been shared with the World Health Organisation where global scientists and vaccine manufacturers will be able to compare the variations of the virus found around the world.
NSW Health public health pathology director Dominic Dwyer said this was a significant breakthrough in the fight against the virus.
"We can make a contribution in terms of understanding how the virus is changing around the world and how similar it is to other viruses around the world," Mr Dwyer said.
"We can help other laboratories in NSW and elsewhere to develop the right sorts of tests and we can also help vaccine manufacturers and so on by providing viruses they can work on and hopefully eventually develop a vaccine."
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said 14,500 people had been screened at Sydney airport since February 2.
"Of those 57 people had symptoms that needed further testing. But I'm very pleased to say that every single person has shown a negative result," Mr Hazzard said.
"We also have had the four confirmed cases … of those, three people have gone home and one remains in Westmead Hospital."
PARENTS PULL KIDS FROM SCHOOL NEAR DARWIN QUARANTINE ZONE
Concerned parents have removed their children from a school next to the Darwin workers' village where more than 250 Australians have been quarantined after fleeing the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan.
Dozens of parents attended a meeting at the Good Shepherd Lutheran College, but some left frustrated saying there wasn't enough time given for authorities to properly address their concerns.
"Yeah, it's a bit of a joke," parent Beckie Kernich said.
"There wasn't any community consultation."
Several parents who spoke to News Corp said they became worried after reading reports the novel coronavirus could be airborne.
But NT deputy chief health officer Di Stephens said the virus could only be spread by droplets, requiring close, unprotected personal contact.
"Even if I had the virus, I would have to cough on you or kiss you or spit on you and you rub it in your eyes," she said.
As they left the briefing, some parents said they still had concerns.
Karen Donald said she was keeping her two children home from school while the quarantine site was in place.
"I think there's some issues that have arisen from the school community that the school might have to address," she said.
Ms Kernich said her teenage son was at a trade course this week, but she was yet to decide if she would allow him to attend next week.
She said she wasn't convinced the virus could only be transmitted through droplets.
"I'm assured that that's the information they have currently and that's the information they believe and that's the information they're acting on, from my perspective there's a lot of international information you can see immediately online which may put that into doubt."
But Nicolette McCourt said she was not concerned, and her children would be at school.
"I think unfortunately social media being the way that it is these days there is a lot of misinformation and false information floating around out there so for me personally I just want to come to the meeting today to get the truth," she said.
"It's not airborne, it's only via droplets, there's a 50-metre buffer zone between the village and our fence so there's just no concerns for me.
"I'm not sure if people realise but the facility is actually housing parents with young children and elderly grandparents so personally if I was one of the people that was in Wuhan, China visiting my family during the school holidays I would have wanted the Australian Government to do exactly the same for me and my children."
Medical staff working at the village said no-one had shown any sign of illness.
"Everyone I saw yesterday was well, healthy and well, just tired," Australian Medical Assistance Team disaster preparedness and response director Abigail Trewin said.
"The kids were super exited to be home on Aussie soil and I heard repeated thankyous for bringing people home."
- with AAP and Reuters