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

Severity: Informational Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Brussels
  • Munich
  • Bordeaux
  • Gothenburg
  • Chita, Zabaykalsk Kray
  • Wurzburg
  • Illesheim
  • Regensburg
  • Nuremberg
  • Newcastle, England
  • Linkoping
  • Tyumen', Tyumen' Oblast'
  • Rovaniemi, Finland
  • Herzogenaurach

This alert began 05 Feb 2020 21:58 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Novel coronavirus: imported cases, limited local transmission
  • Location(s): Europe and Russia (map)
  • Period: January-February 2020

Summary
Russia and several countries and territories in Europe have identified imported cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and in some instances, limited human-to-human transmission from those imported cases. As of Feb. 5, the following countries and territories have identified confirmed 2019-nCoV cases:

 

  • Belgium: Single imported case in Brussels. No local transmission.

 

  • France: Imported cases in Bordeaux and Ile-de-France; limited local transmission.
  • Finland: Single imported case in Rovaniemi. No local transmission.
  • Germany: Imported cases in Bavaria; limited local transmission.
  • Italy: Two imported cases in Rome. No local transmission.
  • Russia: Two imported cases, one each in Tyumen and Zabaykalsky regions. No local transmission.
  • Spain: Single imported case in La Gomera, Canary Islands. No local transmission.
  • Sweden: Single imported case in Jonkoping. No local transmission.
  • UK: Two imported cases in Newcastle, England. No local transmission.



Background and Analysis
Imported cases of this disease are 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 contagious nor as severe as seasonal influenza.

The incubation period of 2019-nCoV is approximately 1-14 days after exposure, the average being 3-7 days until symptoms appear. Infected people may be contagious before symptoms appear. 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 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. 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