The federal government has ruled out more rescue flights from the Wuhan area, despite pleas from stranded Australians, including children stuck in China without their parents.
The government's two-week travel ban on people who have visited China lasts until Saturday, but is expected to be extended.
"The position is very clear: there's a travel ban," Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Wednesday. "There's no change in that travel ban, and it's the medical advice which will guide what we do."
On Wednesday, 44,754 cases had been reported, with 1112 deaths. Just 15 cases have been reported in Australia, none among the evacuees from Wuhan.
Suggestions that safe passage could be arranged for students due to start university classes in a little over a week also look highly unlikely. Mr Hunt said while "different proposals are being put", he did not want to "change expectations".
The university sector is not pushing special treatment to allow students to travel but wants the government to help universities contact the 100,000 students who were to study in Australia this year.
The Australian National University, with 4000 of its students stuck in China, said classes would begin as planned on February 24.
The ABC has reported the case of a Melbourne two year old stuck in Wuhan with her grandparents, unable to be reunited with her parents, and a Canberra child is also stuck in Wuhan with relatives.
But Foreign Minister Marise Payne said children could not travel unaccompanied and Chinese nationals could not leave Wuhan to travel with them.
"In that case, it makes it very complex ... and our strong advice is that children in this situation are best to remain in the care of their families, in Wuhan or in Hubei province," she said.
The government was not considering any more evacuation flights. Qantas has suspended flights till late March.
Infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute Katherine Gibney said while initial signs of a very severe disease with a high fatality rate had not eventuated, the current fatality rate of about 1 per cent was nevertheless much higher than the seasonal flu, with a higher spread rate than the flu also.
Even if the mortality rate is only 0.1 per cent that's still one in 1000 people and if it spreads to one million people it's still a lot of deathsPeter Collignon
There were still concerns about uncontrolled spread, given cases Hong Kong and Singapore where the transmission source was unknown, and given the lack of reported cases in countries including near neighbour Indonesia.
"It would be very concerning if it became established in Indonesia," she said.
So far, efforts to keep it out of Australia were working, and the longer its spread here could be delayed, the better chance of controlling it or delaying till a vaccine was available.
Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said Australia was liaising with Indonesia each day.
Professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University Professor Peter Collignon said concern about the virus was justified because of the mortality rate, currently up to about 2 per cent.
"My own view is it will end up being less because you are not seeing the mild cases that never got to hospital in China," he said.
"But even if it was only 0.1 per cent that's still one in 1000 people and if it spreads to one million people it's still a lot of deaths."
The death rate was lower than the SARS virus, which killed about 10 per cent of people who contracted it, but the coronavirus appeared to spread more readily than SARS.
It was too early to be confident but the number of cases on the cruise ship in Japan might also be relatively good news. While 175 cases among the 3600 passengers might seem high, it was an infection rates of less than 5 per cent which was much less than infection rates on cruise ships for disease such as the norovirus, and relatively low considering the close proximity of passengers. It was early days but the ship would give a good indication of how infectious the virus was, he said.
On Monday, the first flight of Wuhan evacuees will be able to leave Christmas Island if everyone in the group continues to test negative. The second, much smaller group, which travelled to Christmas Island via Auckland, will be able to leave on Wednesday.
The World Health Organisation, which now has an advance team in Beijing, says there is increasing evidence of the link between the virus and other coronaviruses in bats - with more than 500 coronaviruses identified in bats.
But the transmission route remained unclear. Bats were sold directly to restaurants but rare in Chinese markets, and the organisation believes the most likely theory is that an intermediary animal was involved in transmitting the virus from bats to humans.
The government is providing an extra 300,000 surgical masks to doctors, health workers and pharmacy staff.