First cases of human-to-human transmission of coronavirus confirmed in Australia

·3-min read

The first person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus has been confirmed after a medical worker was believed to have contracted the deadly virus while working at a hospital in Sydney.

A 53-year-old male doctor may have contracted the disease at a hospital in the city’s western suburbs after treating a female patient who arrived in NSW from Iran, according to NSW Health.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday afternoon said three new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in NSW, taking the state's total to nine.

Two of the new cases had a “high likelihood of transmission in NSW”, the health minister told reporters.

One of the cases was the sister of a man who had returned from Iran with the disease, while the second locally-acquired case was the 53-year-old male doctor who hadn't travelled for at least three months.

A man wearing a protective face mask seen in Sydney on Monday. Source: AAP
A man wearing a protective face mask seen in Sydney on Monday. Source: AAP

The infected individuals are undergoing treatment at Westmead Hospital in Sydney.

Mr Hazzard encouraged people to not shake each other’s hands in an effort to minimise the spread of the virus, and also advised against kissing.

He insisted that a pat on the back be utilised by people in place of a hand shake to combat the deadly disease.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant encouraged people to remain vigilant with their hygiene, and present to a hospital if they started to exhibit symptoms.

Authorities are working to find and contact passengers who sat near the woman with coronavirus on a plane returning to Sydney from Iran.

Kerry Chant addressed the media Monday afternoon after a male medical worker contracted the coronavirus. Source: AAP

Search for passengers

The woman in her 50s started to experience COVID-19 symptoms soon after she arrived back in the country on Qatar Airways Flight QR 908 on February 23.

Passengers on the flight have been asked to be alert to symptoms and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday said authorities were investigating the woman's exact position on the plane.

"Anybody on that flight QR 908 that arrived on the 23rd of February at 6.50pm into Sydney Airport, should be very aware that there was somebody on their flight who had the coronavirus," Mr Hazzard told reporters in Sydney.

"If they do have any of the symptoms ... you should get along to your doctor.

"If you have any doubts, any thoughts that it might be the coronavirus, please ring ahead."

Tasmania also confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Monday.

The total number of cases for the country now sits at 31.

Australia’s first coronavirus victim died on Sunday after arriving in Western Australia from the contaminated Diamond Princess cruise ship.

With AAP

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