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Australia’s chief medical officer reflects on a year fighting coronavirus and what’s still to come


Australia’s chief medical officer vividly remembers the first time he heard about the novel coronavirus.

“We were in the national incident room dealing with the bushfire emergency on New Year’s Eve, 2019,” Professor Paul Kelly told SBS News.

“Suddenly, on our big whiteboard of everything to do with bushfires, there was this other point that said there’s some unusual pneumonia activity happening in Wuhan in China.”

In the midst of the Black Summer bushfire crisis it may have seemed like an innocuous point, but Professor Kelly – who was the country’s deputy chief medical officer at the time – would become increasingly concerned.

“About a week later was when we found that this was definitely a new virus and it seemed to be…



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