Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity continues in China during March. Use basic health precautions.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 05 Mar 2020 03:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
  • Location(s): Nationwide; primarily Hubei Province (map)
  • Period: December 2019-March 2020
  • Cases: 80,428

Summary
Chinese authorities continue to identify new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as surveillance and testing are ongoing. Authorities have identified more than 80,420 confirmed cases nationwide according to data through March 4. Approximately 67,330 cases have occurred in Hubei Province, of which 49,540 were reported in Wuhan. Official reports indicate COVID-19 activity has declined overall since early February, though additional time and data are needed to confirm whether disease transmission in China has truly peaked.

The true extent of this outbreak is likely larger than officially recognized. Additional cases will likely be identified in the coming weeks in this rapidly evolving situation.

Background and Analysis
Older individuals, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission is occurring, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Transmission occurs via contact with respiratory droplets created when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, and difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

On Jan. 30, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This indicates that the outbreak requires a coordinated international response, primarily due to the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems that would be ill-equipped to contain it. So far, every country that has identified imported cases has contained them appropriately.

The US CDC maintains a"Warning-Level 3" travel health notice due to COVID-19 activity in China. This is the highest of three notice levels, indicating the US CDC recommends avoidance of any nonessential travel to China. Limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas has been reported. This level of notice also advises travelers to practice enhanced precautions: washing hands regularly with soap; avoid contact with sick individuals; and avoid animals (alive or dead), wet markets, and products that come from animals (especially uncooked meat).

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Avoid close contact with animals (dead or alive), especially at wet markets. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO advice for international travel

WHO coronavirus knowledge base

US CDC "Warning-Level 3" travel health notice for China

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