Imported cases of novel coronavirus reported Jan. 31 in Newcastle, UK. Both are hospitalized in isolation; risk to the public remains low.

Severity: Informational Alert

This alert began 31 Jan 2020 22:32 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Novel Coronavirus
  • Location(s): Newcastle (map)
  • Period: January 2020
  • Cases (Confirmed): 2 (2)

Summary
British authorities reported two imported cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Jan. 31 in Newcastle. The infected individuals arrived from China earlier in the month and are hospitalized in isolation for treatment. Risk to the public remains low.

Background and Analysis
Imported cases of this disease were expected by health authorities 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). This indicates 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.



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 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