Updated

The number of people infected by a West Australian coronavirus has risen to seven overnight in New South Wales, sending alarm through government agencies and authorities across the state.

The illness is similar to that reported earlier this week in residents of the Gold Coast and Gold Coast University Hospital as a cluster develops.

The viral strain was first identified in 2003 and on Wednesday, the New South Wales Department of Health declared the outbreak as confirmed by seven laboratories working with the Australian National University.

One of the seven people who was infected with the virus in NSW has since died, and it has been reported the affected number has now reached nine.

“This outbreak is unusual and extremely worrying,” NSW Health Director of Infectious Diseases John McInerney said.

“We are carefully investigating reports of others with similar symptoms, including coughing, throat pain and chest pain, but it is still early days for us in this outbreak.”

Deputy Director of Clinical Infectious Diseases Dr Myne Arbut said they were holding back on releasing the incubation period until after the first child comes into hospital.

“That’s purely to provide enough time for we can make certain we have appropriate testing systems and enough time to be able to get sufficient numbers of specimens for the clinic,” he said.

“I think all everyone can get better in the middle of the week and then that can change very quickly — in normal circumstances we would take 24 to 48 hours or up to three days — and that could quickly turn into what we’ve seen so far.”

‘This is not unusual’

Mr McInerney said their current call centre staff were working 24 hours a day and worked directly with multiple hospitals throughout the state to advise them of the outbreak.

“This isn’t something we normally see; particularly the way we operate in this sort of situation,” he said.

“This is not unusual for us. We typically have people come in with such a severe illness but not six months later. It is very unusual.”

Dr Arbut said people who should be visiting family, friends or another health care provider should wait three weeks after becoming sick before making any visits.

“Just keep your friends, family, work, media and routine to a minimum until you have recovered from this infection,” he said.

Topics: diseases-and-disorders, health, swanwood-2408, nsw, adelaide-5000, coffs-harbour-2450, sa, wa, australia

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