Russia, European countries and territories report coronavirus cases since Jan. 2020. Limited local transmission; use basic health precautions.

Severity: Informational Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Bordeaux
  • Milan
  • Venice
  • Gothenburg
  • Chita, Zabaykalsk Kray
  • Newcastle, England
  • Linkoping
  • Tyumen', Tyumen' Oblast'
  • Rovaniemi, Finland
  • Padua

This alert began 23 Feb 2020 12:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): imported cases, limited local transmission
  • Location(s): Europe and Russia (map)
  • Period: January-February 2020

Russia and several countries and territories in Europe have identified imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and in some instances, limited human-to-human transmission from those imported cases. As of Feb. 23, the following countries and territories have identified confirmed COVID-19 cases:


  • Belgium: Single imported case in Brussels. No local transmission.
  • France: Twelve cases in Bordeaux and Ile-de-France; limited local transmission.
  • Finland: Single imported case in Rovaniemi. No local transmission.
  • Germany: Fourteen confirmed cases in the vicinity of Munich, Bavaria; limited local transmission.
  • Italy: Imported cases identified in Rome, as well as Lombardy and Veneto regions. Local transmission reported in Lombardy and Veneto regions (80+ cases). Total of 100+ confirmed cases nationwide.
  • Russia: Two imported cases, one each in Tyumen and Zabaykalsky regions. No local transmission.
  • Spain: Single imported case in La Gomera, Canary Islands. Single imported case in Mallorca. No local transmission.
  • Sweden: Single imported case in Jonkoping. No local transmission.
  • UK: Nine imported cases. No local transmission.

Background and Analysis
Imported cases of this disease are expected by health authorities as disease surveillance continues globally. 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. Preliminary investigations indicate the course of illness is not as severe as seasonal influenza, nor as contagious.

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, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - 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 COVID-19 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.

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.

WHO advice for international travel

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