Imported cases of novel coronavirus reported Jan. 31 in Tyumen and Zabaykalsky regions, Russia. Risk to public remains low.

Severity: Informational Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Chita, Zabaykalsk Kray
  • Tyumen', Tyumen' Oblast'

This alert began 01 Feb 2020 01:28 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 Feb 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Novel Coronavirus
  • Location(s): Tyumen and Zabaykalsky regions (map)
  • Period: January 2020
  • Cases (Confirmed): 2 (2)

Summary
Russian health authorities reported two imported cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Jan. 31; one case in Tyumen, Siberia, and one in Zabaykalsky in the Far East. Authorities hospitalized the infected individuals in isolation for treatment; the persons arrived from China earlier in the month. The risk to the public remains low.

Background and Analysis
Health authorities expected imported cases of this disease as disease surveillance continues globally. Older individuals 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. However, preliminary investigations indicate the course of illness is not as severe as seasonal influenza, nor as contagious.

The incubation period of 2019-nCoV is approximately 1-14 days after exposure, the average being 3-7 days until symptoms appear. Infected individuals are contagious to others before displaying symptoms. These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to diarrhea, kidney failure, and pneumonia - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

On Jan. 30, the WHO declared the ongoing outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), indicating that 2019-nCoV 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. In a press statement after the announcement, the WHO stressed that there should be no restrictions on travel or trade and that it remains supportive of China's work to address the outbreak.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with 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