Canberra Travel Talk

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Coronavirus, SARS and flu experts compare the differences between the diseases

As the number of people dying from coronavirus rockets well ahead of those killed by SARS, experts say the disease's spread is now at a critical stage.

Nine weeks after the novel coronavirus was first discovered, Australian infectious disease experts are only beginning to understand its severity, how it is spread and how to contain it.

In Australia, there are only 15 confirmed cases and Health Minister Greg Hunt said five people had recovered from the illness, while the remaining 10 were stable and in a "recovery process".

So the question remains: with thousands of Australians dying every year from influenza, and no coronavirus deaths reported in Australia, why are we still so worried about it?

According to leading virologist Ian Mackay, from the University of Queensland, the fact China has been "swamped" with cases means there are still many unknowns about the disease.

"[At the moment] the Chinese authorities can't even rely on the numbers being calculated in China," Dr Mackay said. "Their hospitals have been inundated.

"And without really good numbers and data we can't be sure [of anything]."


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A medical worker holds a thermometer to check a passenger's temperature at a checkpoint


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