Several countries in Western Pacific report COVID-19 cases since January 2020. Local transmission in some areas. Use basic precautions.

Severity: Warning Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Cambodia
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Japan
  • Macau SAR / Zhuhai
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Malaysia
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines

This alert began 05 Mar 2020 15:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), local transmission
  • Location(s): Western Pacific (map)
  • Period: January-March 2020

Summary
Several countries and territories in Asia and the Western Pacific have identified imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from mainland China, and in some instances, limited human-to-human transmission from those imported cases. As of Feb. 28, the following countries and territories have identified confirmed COVID-19 cases:

Local disease transmission:

  • Hong Kong SAR: 104 cases reported. The US CDC maintains an "Alert-Level 1" travel health notice. This is the first of three levels and indicates authorities recommend standard precautions, including avoiding sick people and using strict hand hygiene measures.

 

  • Japan: 284 cases reported in Aichi, Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kanagawa, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Nagano, Nagoya, Kyoto, Tokushima, and Tokyo prefectures. Most are imported with limited local transmission. Previously quarantined cruise ship in Yokohama reported roughly 706 cases. The US CDC maintains an "Alert-Level 2" travel health notice. This is the second of three levels and indicates authorities recommend enhancing usual precautions, including avoiding sick people and using strict hand hygiene measures. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for severe symptoms and should consider delaying any nonessential travel to Japan.
  • Macau SAR: 10 cases reported.
  • Malaysia: 55 cases reported in Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur.
  • Singapore: 111 cases reported.
  • South Korea: 5,766 cases reported. Daegu and Cheongdo report ongoing local transmission and limited transmission in Seoul. The US CDC has upgraded its travel health notice to a "Warning-Level 3." This is the highest of three levels and indicates that US authorities recommend avoiding all nonessential travel to South Korea. This is due to limited access to medical care in affected areas, where they are redirecting their efforts to COVID-19 response. Diligent use of basic health precautions is recommended, including strict hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • Taiwan: 42 cases reported.
  • Vietnam: 16 cases reported in Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh Phuc Province.


Imported cases only:

  • Australia: 42 cases reported in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and Northern Territory.

 

  • Cambodia: One case reported in Sihanoukville.
  • New Zealand: Three cases reported in Auckland.
  • Philippines: Three cases reported in Manila.



Background and Analysis
Health authorities expect imported cases of the disease as surveillance continues globally. Additional countries and territories may be added. 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.

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.

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 noncompanion 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

US CDC Travel Health Notice for South Korea

US CDC Travel Health Notice for Japan

US CDC Travel Health Notice for Hong Kong


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