Health chief warns Australia is facing a coronavirus 'pandemic'

Health chief warns Australia is facing a coronavirus 'pandemic' - but the government tells people NOT to wear masks Victoria's health chief said the state is preparing for a coronavirus pandemic Dr Brett Sutton urged Australians to stay alert, said he is 'planning for the worst' Statement comes after Australia's chief medical officer waved off concerns  Dr Brendan Murphy earlier said people should not need to wear protective masks There are a total of 23 confirmed cases in Australia and nearly 78,000 globally 

By Australian Associated Press

Published: 08:30 GMT, 24 February 2020 | Updated: 09:16 GMT, 24 February 2020

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Despite his federal counterpart's message of calm, Victoria's chief medical officer is bracing for a 'very likely, if not inevitable' COVID-19 world pandemic.

Dr Brett Sutton took to Twitter on Sunday to say the state had been working on its pandemic preparedness for weeks.

Australia's chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy has waved off the nation's concerns over the China-based outbreak, asking people not to wear masks and to go about their normal business.

Mr Sutton has pushed a more urgent line.

Victoria's chief medical officer said the state was preparing for a coronavirus pandemic after the federal government waved off concerns and urged people not to wear protective masks. Pictured: People wearing masks at Brisbane airport

Victoria's chief medical officer said the state was preparing for a coronavirus pandemic after the federal government waved off concerns and urged people not to wear protective masks. Pictured: People wearing masks at Brisbane airport 

Dr Brett Sutton took to Twitter to say a pandemic is 'very likely, if not inevitable'

Dr Brett Sutton took to Twitter to say a pandemic is 'very likely, if not inevitable' 

Saying he was 'hoping for the best and planning for the worst,' Mr Sutton on Sunday put out a message to remain alert.

'Australia absolutely has world-class health care but even the best health care in the world is challenged during pandemics,' he wrote.

'So everyone will need to work together to ensure that should a pandemic eventuate, our services can function as effectively as possible.'

After outbreaks in Japan and South Korea raised the alarm on whether the World Health Organisation can declare a global pandemic, Dr Sutton wanted to reassure Victorians.

Australia's chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy (far right) waved off the nation's concerns over the China -based outbreak, asking people not to wear masks and to go about their normal business

Australia's chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy (far right) waved off the nation's concerns over the China -based outbreak, asking people not to wear masks and to go about their normal business

'Victoria and Australia nonetheless remain completely in containment mode - identifying any possible case; isolating those who are infectious, and quarantining contacts,' he said.

'Regardless of developments internationally, this gives all of us time and space to plan and prepare.'

Globally, nearly 78,000 people have been infected in 29 countries.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia is 23, after the confirmation of seven positive cases among the group of 164 evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

This includes 10 people who have recovered from the illness.

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