Australian lab selected to help detect and track spread of deadly coronavirus


The WHO named the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) as one of the 15 international research labs helping to support the international effort in diagnosing new cases of novel coronavirus.

The 15 laboratories will provide reference testing support to the WHO, after they “demonstrated expertise in the molecular detection of coronaviruses,” the WHO said in a statement. “These international labs can support national labs to confirm new cases and trouble shoot their molecular assays.”

The Victorian lab has been listed alongside the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, the Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University in Japan, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US and the Institute Pasteur in France, among others.

Scientists at Pasteur Institute in France test samples from patients potentially infected with coronavirus. Picture: Francois Mori/APSource:AP

The VIDRL is a Melbourne-based infectious diseases reference laboratory, a WHO National Influenza Centre, and is part of the WHO’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System. The lab is also a national leader in infectious diseases.

A new report from the WHO today said there are now 28,276 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world, and 3722 of these are newly diagnosed. Of those, 28,060 confirmed are in China, with the country recording 3697 new cases. China is currently dealing with 3859 severe cases of the coronavirus, and 640 of the severe cases are new.

Outside of China, there are 216 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 25 of which are new. Coronavirus has now reached 24 more countries, and killed one person outside of China.

This afternoon, at least 41 new cases were confirmed on board a cruise ship off Japan’s coast, five of those affected being Australian.

Australian military personnel offload supplies to Christmas Island, where Australians have been quarantined after being evacuated from Wuhan, China. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Australian military personnel offload supplies to Christmas Island, where Australians have been quarantined after being evacuated from Wuhan, China. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAPSource:AAP

Today Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australians who continued to travel to China were doing so against the advice of the government.

“Those people frankly are putting themselves in a difficult situation,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network.

“They would find it very hard to get back to Australia in certain circumstances and you can’t guarantee their return, particularly if China shuts its borders.”

Australian diplomats are working with Chinese officials to allow another evacuation flight from Wuhan.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison says people should not assume further flights would be possible, whether from Wuhan or mainland China.

“DFAT (foreign affairs department) is now in the process of registering our intention to undertake a second chartered flight,” he told Parliament on Thursday.

With AAP





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