Novel coronavirus cases surge in China as disease investigations continue. Highest risk in Wuhan. Maintain basic health precautions.

Severity: Warning Alert

 

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • China
  • Wuhan, Hubei Province
Click above image to access interactive map.

This alert began 23 Jan 2020 07:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 Feb 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Novel Coronavirus
  • Location(s): Nationwide; primarily eastern provinces, especially Wuhan, Hubei Province 
  • Period: December 2019-January 2020
  • Cases (Confirmed): 585 (585)

Summary
Chinese authorities report additional cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) early Jan. 23, for a total of 585 confirmed cases. Most cases have occurred in Wuhan, Hubei Province (444 cases), with travel-related cases reported in 25 Chinese provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities). Sustained transmission of 2019-nCoV has not been confirmed outside Wuhan, though the true extent of this outbreak is likely larger than officially recognized.

All cases presenting with severe pneumonia have been hospitalized for treatment in isolation. Strict basic health precautions, respiratory hygiene, and diligent handwashing remain the best way to avoid infection. Additional cases will likely be identified in the coming days and weeks in this rapidly evolving situation.

Background and Analysis
Older individuals and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed by Chinese health authorities, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Some reports suggest conjunctivitis (reddening associated with infection or irritation of the eye) may be an early symptom of 2019-nCoV, and that respiratory droplets from infected individuals may infect others via contact with the mucous membrane of the eye. Investigations into transmission and disease modeling are ongoing. The reported clinical signs and symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection are primarily fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.

This outbreak was first reported Dec. 31, 2019, as suspected Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) cases. However, by Jan. 7, 2020 the pathogen was isolated and identified as a new type of coronavirus (2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV), ruling out any other respiratory pathogens such as influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus, SARS, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), as the cause. Evidence suggests that the primary outbreak is associated with exposures in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and most of these cases were individuals who handled the seafood and frequent visitors to the market. Authorities closed the market Jan. 1, 2020. Animal-to-human transmission via domestic poultry or contamination of food or surfaces by bats are more likely methods of such transmission.

The US CDC maintains an"Alert-Level 2" travel health notice due to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) activity in China. This level of notice advises travelers to practice enhanced precautions: travelers to Wuhan should avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), and animal markets, as well as maintain diligent basic health precautions, primarily frequent handwashing. Travelers to other locations in China where imported cases have occurred should maintain their basic health precautions.

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 crowded areas and obviously ill people. Consider respiratory facemasks and protective eyewear. There is no evidence that influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO Advice for International Travel and Trade: www.who.int/ith/2020-0901_outbreak_of_Pneumonia_caused_by_a_new_coronavirus_in_C/en/

WHO Coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

CDC Travel Health Notice: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/novel-coronavirus-china