28 Jan 2020

Person who died after travelling to China being investigated for coronavirus

1:30 pm on 28 January 2020

The unexpected death of a person who recently travelled to China is being investigated for coronavirus, but DHB says virus is unlikely the cause.

Passengers wearing protective facemasks are checked by security personnel wearing hazardous material suits at the entrance to the underground train station in Beijing on January 24, 2020, to help stop the spread of a deadly SARS-like virus which originated in the central city of Wuhan.

Photo: Noel Celis / AFP

The novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, has infected 2800 people and killed at least 80 in China. The outbreak is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan, Hubei.

A small number of cases linked to people who travelled from Wuhan have been confirmed in more than 10 countries, including Australia, Thailand, France, Japan and the United States where authorities said they had 110 people under investigation in 26 states.

In a statement, Bay of Plenty's District Health Board said investigations were common in unexpected deaths, but it was unlikely this person had been infected with the novel coronavirus.

Dr Neil de Wet, medical officer of health at Toi Te Ora Public Health, said they were undertaking this measure to rule out the virus as a cause, because the person had recently travelled to China.

There are no cases of the novel coronavirus in New Zealand to date.

Health advice is also being provided to travellers arriving to New Zealand from China.

The DHB said travellers who become sick within a month of their arrival were encouraged to seek medical advice and contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 611 116 or a doctor.

It said people should also mention any recent travel to China and any known contact with someone with severe respiratory illness who has been in China.

Reports of a suspected case in Queenstown earlier today turned out to be a false alarm.

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