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Novel Coronavirus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

JAN 30, 2020 | MICHAELA FLEMING
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, director-general of World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the novel coronavirus is considered a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The announcement was made in a press conference this afternoon.
Earlier today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus has been confirmed in the United States.

The new case has been confirmed in the spouse of a patient in Illinois who experienced a travel-associated case of the virus.

Earlier today the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee reconvened to evaluate the status of the outbreak. Just last week the committee opted to not declare a PHEIC, based on the public health efforts that were being implemented to try to contain the virus and low overall case counts.

However, Tedros reconvened the committee due to concern for further global spread after person-to-person spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was confirmed in 3, now 4, countries outside of China.

Tedros also explained that individuals who have contracted 2019-nCoV are experiencing a wide variety of symptoms. In most patients, symptoms are milder, but approximately 1 in 5 individuals have experienced severe illness including severe pneumonia and respiratory failure.

As of January 29, 2020, there have been 7736 confirmed cases of the virus in China and 7834 cases worldwide with 170 associated deaths.

In the press conference announcing the PHEIC, Tedors indicated that there are now 96 cases of 2019-nCoV in 18 countries outside of China. 

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board convened on January 27, 2020 to discuss the outbreak and make recommendations regarding the situation.

“The Board, however, is concerned that many countries remain unprepared and urges leaders in all countries to take immediate action to ensure that they have the necessary capacities in place,” the Board wrote in a statement.

Further, the Board calls for transparency regarding confirmed and probable cases, that countries and local governments allocate proper preparedness resources, and that research and development efforts focus on urgently accelerate the development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

On Wednesday, a flight carrying approximately 210 US citizens who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, arrived at March Air Reserve Base in California.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the aircraft was met by medical officers from the agency to evaluate the health of each passenger. The individuals were each evaluated prior to boarding the plane and along the journey.

Additionally, the CDC is working with the California Department of Public Health and Riverside Country Public Health to transport patients exhibiting symptoms further evaluation to nearby health care facilities. Individuals who are not showing symptoms will be asked to stay at the base and provided housing to allow for CDC medical officers to continue to perform screening and to learn more about exposure.

On Friday, January 31st, the CDC issued a federal quarantine order that all 195 US citizens who were evacuated will be quarantined for 14 days. 

Earlier this week the CDC updated its guidance regarding travel to China, the hotspot and origin of the 2019-nCoV outbreak.

The agency has issued a level 3 travel health notice that recommends that all US travelers avoid nonessential travel to the entire country of China.

Yesterday the White House announced the formation of the President's Coronavirus Task Force. The committee is led by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and will focus on monitoring, containing, and mitigating the spread of the virus, while providing the American public with accurate and up-to-date health and travel information.

For the most recent case counts in the novel corona virus outbreak, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
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