COVID-19 situation: 22 Feb 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 22 Feb 2020

Welcome to this special issue of the newsletter where we highlight latest research and policy news and literature on 2019-nCVO situation

Please send your feedback, articles and reports, or questions you would like to share to Dr. Chadia Wannous via email  

Wishing you useful reading!

COVID-19 Outbreak Situation

Situation updates:
WHO situation report no 32 on 21 Feb

  • No new countries reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
  • Through the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), national food safety authorities are seeking more information on the potential for persistence of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, on foods traded internationally as well as the potential role of food in the transmission of the virus. Currently, there are investigations conducted to evaluate the viability and survival time of SARS-CoV-2. As a general rule, the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, raw milk or raw animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods

China         Very High
Regional Level       High
Global Level          High

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation as of 17 February 2020, 16:00 (CET)

China’s National Health Commission Feb 22: Daily briefing on novel coronavirus cases in China
On Feb 21, 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland as well as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps reported 397 new cases of confirmed infections, 1,361 new cases of suspected infections, and 109 deaths (106 in Hubei province, 1 in Hebei province, 1 in Shanghai municipality, and 1 in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps). 2,393 patients were released from hospital after being cured. 26,441 people who had had close contact with infected patients were freed from medical observation. Serious cases decreased by 156.

China sees overall decline in numbers of new confirmed COVID-19 cases

Latest developments in epidemic control on Feb 21 (1)
China has stepped up efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Here are the latest developments:
— China's latest diagnosis and treatment scheme of the novel coronavirus disease has deleted the category of clinically diagnosed cases.
Clinically diagnosed cases, added to the fifth version of the scheme earlier this month only for the hardest-hit Central China's Hubei province, refer to suspected cases with pneumonia-related computerized tomography (CT) scan results.
— China's consumer market is likely to stabilize and bottom out by March as the influence of the epidemic fades away.
— Patients of novel coronavirus will have their treatment payments covered by medical insurance and fiscal funds.
China cases appear to slow
China's National Health Commission today reported 394 new cases, down sharply from the 1,739 reported yesterday, which follows the country's announcement yesterday that it will no longer include clinically diagnosed COVID-19 cases with the lab-confirmed numbers. The overall total is now 74,576.
The country also reported 114 more deaths and 113 fewer serious illnesses, putting those respective totals at 2,118 and 11,864.
Number of deaths from COVID-19 passes 2,000

  • Chinese authorities reported today that 2,118 people worldwide have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, since the outbreak began. The number of people infected globally has topped 75,000, more than 74,000 of them in China.

(Nature | continuously updated)
The Ministry of Health in British Columbia has confirmed a case of COVID-19 with no travel history to China, but with recent travel to Iran. In a statement from the Ministry of Health, the patient is identified as a female in her 30’s who is currently isolated at home. Her close contacts are being followed by ministry officials. 
Following initial reports of 5 cases and 2 deaths, Iran is reporting 13 additional cases and 2 deaths bringing the total to 18 cases and 4 deaths.
The Lebanese Ministry of Health is reporting one confirmed case who had recently arrived from Iran. Two suspected cases were also reported.
The South Korean CDC is reporting 100 new cases, bringing their national total to 204. Of the 53 cases reported yesterday afternoon, 30 had an epidemiological link to a church in the city of Daegu.
Six cases of COVID-19 have been identified in northern Italy, none of whom had recently visited China. 
The Japanese Ministry of Health has reported 2 confirmed cases in government officials participating in the response on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, both of whom are hospitalized and receiving treatment. In total, 621 cases and two deaths have been linked to the Diamond Princess, making it the second largest epicenter of COVID-19. Japanese authorities have said that the two week quarantine of the ship has ended, and uninfected passengers are being allowed to disembark. 
Two passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess have tested positive for the virus in Darwin, Australia. Both cases are clinically doing well and were appropriately isolated.

Singapore reports 1 new case
Singapore's health ministry today reported 1 more case, raising the country's total to 85. It said contact tracing is under way to identify any links to earlier cases or travel to China. The country has linked all but 9 cases to clusters or earlier cases.
Consequences of the Outbreak on Economy

Economic vulnerabilities to the coronavirus: top countries at risk
Coronavirus: air travel demand 'will fall for first time in 11 years'
The spread of the coronavirus will result in the first fall in global air travel in more than a decade, the international airline industry body has predicted.
The Philippines’ tourism secretary is encouraging tourists to come to the country, and its airlines are reducing fares.
Control Measures
Statement given on 21 February, by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Link to remarks:

Listen and download:
Dr Tedros presentation at the Emergency Ministerial meeting on COVID-19 organized by the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Here the link to the video of Dr Tedros' briefing
Statement given today, 20 February, by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Link to remarks:
Listen and download:
Government officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, announced that work suspension has been extended to Mar 11, Reuters reported.
Schools will also remain shuttered, and the only firms allowed to resume work are those involved in outbreak

China to clamp down on wildlife trade
In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, China’s top law-making body is expected to permanently tighten rules on trading wildlife at a meeting next week. Scientists speculate that this could include a ban on eating some wild animals, such as snakes and bats, but they don’t think wildlife used for fur or traditional medicine will be affected. The virus is thought to have originated in a wild-animal market in the city of Wuhan.
Nature | 5 min read
Chinese authorities in manufacturing provinces are taking active measures, including cash rewards and chartered buses, an attempt to help migrant workers return to work.
Other Countries
In an effort to reduce transmission, the Ministry of Health in Iran is proposing temporary restrictions on visits to national shrines and pilgrimage to Qom where one of the initial cases was detected. Neighboring Iraq is closing the border between Iran and Iraq preventing border crossing by Iranian nationals. Iraqi Airways and Kuwait Airways are also suspending flights to Iran.
The US CDC yesterday issued a travel watch for Japan owing to multiple instances of community spread reported in the country. A travel watch, the CDC's lowest travel advisory level, urges visitors to practice usual precautions, such as avoiding sick people and washing hands frequently.
Scientist decries ‘completely chaotic’ conditions on cruise ship Japan quarantined after viral outbreak
A Japanese infectious disease specialist has harshly criticized the way Japan’s government has handled the COVID-19 crisis aboard a luxury cruise ship docked in Yokohama. Conditions on board the Diamond Princess were “violating all infection control principles” and “completely chaotic,” the scientist, Kentaro Iwata of Kobe University, said in a YouTube video posted on Tuesday evening.
According to research published on the Think Global Health website, at least 80 countries have implemented some form of travel restrictions for China or parts of China, Chinese nationals, or travelers originating in or transiting through China. These restrictions range from suspended flights by state-owned airlines to border closures. As of February 7, the WHO had identified 72 countries that had imposed some form of travel restrictions, but only 23 (32%) had submitted official reports to the WHO, which arerequired under the International Health Regulations (Article 43, Paragraph 3). The article provides details on the types of restrictions imposed by the identified countries.
Scientific publications and reports and news
Global research database
WHO is gathering the latest scientific findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and compiling it in an easy-to-search database. The list of entries is hand-picked and updated daily.

2019-nCoV transmission through the ocular surface must not be ignored

2019-nCoV epidemic: what about pregnancies?

Preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against importations of COVID-19: a modelling study

Emerging Viruses A Global Health Concern Requiring Science-Based Solutions And Local Action

Coronavirus could collapse health systems in South and Southeast Asia

CDC warns community COVID-19 spread could take place in US
"The day may come when we may need to implement such measures as seen in Asia," a CDC official says.
More »

As global cases climb, Latin America readies for coronavirus response

The coronavirus is picking up steam outside China, narrowing chances of eliminating it
Coronavirus and the race to distribute reliable diagnostics
The medical community is rallying to develop a set of rapid and reliable molecular diagnostic tests for the new human coronavirus that appeared in China — now dubbed sudden acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).
The article helpfully provides details on 12 products, including their developers, assay type, and current status.
Evidence for gastrointestinal infection of SARS-CoV-2
The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak originating from Wuhan, China, poses a threat to global health. While it's evident that the virus invades respiratory tract and transmits from human to human through airway, other viral tropisms and transmission routes remain unknown.
Scientists have questioned the way officials are counting cases of the virus after it emerged that people in China who tested positive for the coronavirus, but who don’t have symptoms, aren’t being recorded as confirmed cases. Omitting these asymptomatic cases could mask the epidemic’s true extent, researchers say, and distort models of the outbreak’s spread. But public-health researchers argue that it makes sense to focus on tracking sick people who are more likely to pass on the disease.
(Nature | 3 min read)
SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load In Upper Respiratory Specimens
In a Letter to the Editor published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Guangdong Provincial CDC, Zhuhai CDC (Guangdong, China), Sun Yat-Sen Hospital, and the University of Hong Kong reported results from a study of 18 patients in Guangdong, China, with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections (including 1 asymptomatic infection). The study aimed to characterize the viral load present in the upper respiratory tract over the course of infection. The results suggest “that the viral...shedding pattern of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2” more closely resembles influenza than SARS-CoV, with high viral loads detected early after symptom onset. Additionally, the viral load detected in the asymptomatic patient was similar to that found in the symptomatic patients. The findings support the idea that “transmission may occur early in the course of infection,” which could influence screening practices. Additional work is needed to better characterize transmission dynamics for SARS-CoV-2.
SARS-CoV-2 Isolation in Fecal Specimen
Researchers from China’s NHC Key Laboratory for Medical Virology, Heilongjiang CDC, and China CDC reported the results of a study in which they successfully isolated SARS-CoV-2 from a confirmed patient’s fecal specimen. The research was conducted in a BSL-3 laboratory at the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention. The report does not indicate whether the isolated virus was viable or infectious, but the researchers were able to sequence a full genome for the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the specimen. This indicates that the virus can be present in fecal material, which could potentially serve as an additional route of transmission for the virus.
Updated WHO Myth buster
WHO Technical guidance

Lancet Coronavirus Resource Centre
This resource brings together new 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) content from across The Lancet journals as it is published. All content listed on this page is free to access.
Elsevier’s free health and medical research on novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

CIDRAP COVID-19 Resource Center
CIDRAP has created a one-stop comprehensive compilation of the most current, authorititive information available on the novel coronavirus. Visit the Resource Centeroften, as the outbreak is constantly evolving

Training course:
WHO Critical Care Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Training
This course is intended for clinicians who are working in intensive care units (ICUs) in low and middle-income countries and managing adult and pediatric patients with severe forms of acute respiratory infection (SARI), including severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock. It is a hands-on practical guide to be used by health care professionals involved in critical care management during outbreaks of influenza virus (seasonal) human infection due avian influenza virus (H5N1, H7N9), MERS-CoV, nCoV or other emerging respiratory viral epidemics.

“ePROTECT respiratory occupational health and safety” now available
This course provides a general introduction to Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) and basic hygiene measures to protect against infection.
By the end of this course, participants should understand:

  • the basic principles of acute respiratory infections;
  • how to assess the risk of infection; and
  • basic hygiene measures to protect against infection.

There are 4 modules, as follows:

  • Module 1: Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) of public health concern - Introduction
  • Module 2: How to protect yourself against Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs)
  • Module 3: Basic hygiene measures
  • Module 4: Wearing a medical mask

The course will take approximately 2 hours to finish. There is no certificate available at this time. Access Web:

Online course for public health preparedness for mass gathering events
This project aims to support host nations in delivering a safe and successful event, as part of WHO’s ongoing support to countries in strengthening the International Health Regulations capacities for prevention, detection and response to the public health events in the context of hosting mass gathering events.
To create a user account, future members need to click on “Register” from the homepage of the Health Security Learning Platform:
Access the course



Knowledge Sharing

Thank you for reading. If you have thoughts, feedback, story ideas, or questions you would like to share or interested in partnering with us on a special event coverage, please send a note to Chadia Wannous via email  


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