FOUR cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in Australia. All are men who had travelled from China in the past three weeks.
But what would happen if Bendigonians began to suffer from the disease?
The coronavirus was first diagnosed in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. It gives sufferers respiratory symptoms, causing pneumonia in severe cases.
Read more: China's coronavirus death toll rises to 80
The World Health Organisation has assessed the risk of coronavirus as high on a global level.
But Australia's chief medical officer has said it's unlikely Australians were at risk, unless they had been in Wuhan City or in contact with someone who had.
What is the novel coronavirus?
Health authorities have confirmed one case of coronavirus infection in Victoria.
Three cases have been confirmed in NSW.
All had travelled from China between January 6 and January 20.
AAP reports it's likely authorities will confirm a fifth Australian case on Monday.
The strain is believed to have emerged late 2019 from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.
Chinese authorities confirmed they had identified a new virus on January. It came after the World Health Organisation was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. These did not match any other known virus.
The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family, which includes the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome.
The city has since been put in lockdown.
- Sore throat
- Breathing difficulties
To be classified as a suspected case in Australia, a person also needs to meet "epidemiological" criteria. That is, they must either:
- Have been in Wuhan, China, in the fortnight prior to onset of their symptoms
- Have been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus, or a healthcare facility in China
Severe cases of the coronavirus can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and death.
Read more: Coronavirus hard to control, studies say
Australia's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has said health authorities are concerned about the spread of coronavirus in China.
But Professor Murphy said Australia had very strong public health response systems.
He said only those who had been in China, or in close contact with someone who had come from China and was unwell, were at risk.
What happens if starts to spread rapidly?
Victoria's response to a health emergency such as a pandemic is detailed in the State Health Emergency Response Plan.
The plan warns that health emergencies may disrupt people's access to health infrastructure, if staff get sick.
The Department of Health and Human Services is considered the responsible agency in case of a health crisis.
DHHS is responsible for issuing warnings in collaboration with Ambulance Victoria.
Local government is responsible to help deliver warnings to the community and provide information to the public and the media.
Councils are also tasked with coordinating municipal resources if they are needed by those responding the the crisis.
Read more: China bans wildlife over coronavirus
The response to a health emergency depends on its scale. This is plotted on a matrix rated low to severe, taking into account the geographical area of the crisis.
A major disease outbreak would be considered the most severe. In that event plans are to establish a state health incident management team and activate Victoria's State Control Centre.
The state has outlined its response to a flu pandemic - also a viral respiratory illness - in an action plan, detailing strategies to manage and minimise health effects in such an event.
A pandemic is defined as the worldwide spread of a new disease.
These plans depend on the severity of the influenza strain, from low to high.
In a severe outbreak social distancing measures may be necessary, such as closing schools and childcare services and cancellation of public events.
It estimates that up to 40 per cent of the workforce could withdraw in case of a severe influenza pandemic.
Victoria's Chief Health Officer assumes the role of State Controller in case of an influenza pandemic.
What if we get coronavirus cases in central Victoria?
City has a municipal environmental health officer and municipal medical officer of health. These officers are responsible for health and medical matters at a local level.
In cases of human disease and contamination of food or water, this involves supporting DHHS.
These responsibilities are outlined in the 2016 Greater Bendigo Municipal Emergency Plan.
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The Bendigo Advertiser could find no specific public plan for the management of a disease outbreak, but several central Victorian shires have emergency management plans in the case of an influenza pandemic.
Mount Alexander's emergency plan for an influenza pandemic details what that shire's response would be in case of large scale flu infections.
The council plans involve communication of pandemic management information to staff and regular updates to the community.
Strategies could include advising people to minimise physical contact, avoid large gatherings and public places.
The document describes how high mortality rates could put pressure on burial facilities and lead to civil disturbances.
What's happening nationally?
Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed NSW and Victoria had isolated the patients to prevent further transmission.
Minister Hunt said the federal government was working with Victoria and NSW to trace individual who may have been in contact with the men since they arrived in Australia, or on their flights.
The Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs has warned people not to travel to Hubei Province in China.
Border measures are in place to detect unwell travellers coming in to Australia.
AAP reports that Australian authorities are looking into repatriating more than 100 Australian children from Wuhan City.
The Department of Health and Human Services has been contacted for comment.
Bendigo Health and City of Greater Bendigo were approached for comment.
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