The coronavirus is causing chaos across the world, including in the Hunter.
Since news of the virus broke, Chinese visitors have vanished from the vineyards. With one in four people employed in the regional tourism sector, many Hunter residents are feeling the strain in more ways than one.
The University of Newcastle has also been affected by the virus. It has stated that 2571 students from its 37,945 enrolments in 2019 came from China.
How the virus will affect the university's income from fees is not known at this point. On the human side, it's been a challenging time for the affected students, along with their families and friends at home in China.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation [WHO] officially named the deadly strain of coronavirus as Covid-19. The word coronavirus refers to a group of viruses, rather than the latest strain.
On this issue: China travel ban rocks Hunter tourism's bottom line
"Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.
In China, there are more than 63,000 confirmed cases and about 1360 deaths. Outside of China, there were about 450 confirmed cases across 24 countries, with two deaths recorded. Japan announced its first coronavirus death on Thursday. The victim was a woman in her 80s, who lived south-west of Tokyo.
Meanwhile, the US state department said it was "deeply concerned" about the possible effect of an outbreak in North Korea, which had not reported any cases.
The Morrison government extended a ban on Chinese visitors and students from entering Australia for a further week, unless they are Australian citizens or permanent residents. The federal health department said on Friday that Australia had 15 confirmed cases of Covid-19. This included five in Queensland, four in NSW, four in Victoria and two in South Australia. Six of the earlier cases had recovered. The others were in a stable condition.
Of the four confirmed cases in NSW, all patients had been discharged. They included a 53-year-old male, a 35-year-old male, a 21-year-old female and a 43-year-old male.
NSW Health said on Friday that 61 cases in NSW were under investigation. Almost 1000 suspected cases had been cleared.
Since February 2, a total of 16,804 people have been assessed at Sydney International Airport. A total of 64 were sent for testing. This included the monitoring on Friday of 503 arrivals from mainland China. Of these arrivals, one person was sent for testing.
Some organisations are complaining about the travel bans in Australia. Their frustration is understandable, but an outbreak of this kind cannot be taken lightly. Authorities must take every measure they can to stop this virus from spreading.
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