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Australia’s Chief Medical Officer warns coronavirus toll will rise

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The nation’s chief medical officer says it is very likely we’ll see more cases of coronavirus here in Australia.

The World Health Organisation says the outbreak should be treated as “public enemy number one” and has now formally named the strain Covid-19.

A two-day meeting is underway in Geneva to discuss the global response to the deadly outbreak, with more than 43,000 confirmed cases worldwide and over 1000 deaths.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy tells Alan Jones the numbers could be significantly higher.

“We’re pretty confident that in the epicentre in Hubei Province in China we believe there are probably a significantly larger number of cases than the Chinese have detected.

“We don’t know whether it’s 10 or 50 per cent [more], it’s hard to say.”

But he’s warning Australians not to panic, saying there is still no evidence of community transmission here.

“All of the 15 cases we’ve had have come from mainland China.

“In some cases, they may have transmitted to themselves in a small minibus here but there’s been no evidence of community transmission in Australia but it’s too early to say that at the moment.”

Professor Murphy says a vaccine for Covid-19 could take up to 18 months to create.

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Image: SMH