Viral Panic

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Words | Elizabeth Laughton

In December 2019, an outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, China. Since then, over 12 people have been confirmed as infected in Australia. Around the world, over 250 people have died of the virus, with a further 12,000 estimated to be infected. The World Health Organisation has also declared the coronavirus a global emergency. 

Symptoms of the virus have been described as varying from a mild flu to pneumonia. Prominent symptoms include fever, coughing, breathlessness, and a stuffy nose. Infected patients remain contagious for up to 14 days, even if they are asymptomatic the entire time. The Wuhan strain of the virus is believed to have originated in animals. It was likely transmitted to humans through consumption of those animals afterwards. 

Given the virus is highly contagious, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has placed a ban on travellers entering Australia if they have passed through mainland China. There are some exceptions for Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate families, who must isolate themselves for the virus’ incubation period of 14 days upon entering Australia. The government has also been involved in efforts to evacuate 600 Australian citizens from the epicentre of the virus in China. Efforts to develop a vaccine for the virus are on-going across the world. 

Macquarie University has issued multiple communications regarding the infection and spread of coronavirus. Initially, students were advised to continue attending university if they were feeling well. Since then, students with possible contact with the virus have been asked to remain absent for 14 days, according to federal guidelines. The University is now presented with the unique challenge of handling numerous Chinese international students, who may need to be issued exceptional deferrals and consideration for the first few weeks of Session 1 as they may not be able to travel. 

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