COVID-19 situation, 28 March 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 28 March 2020

Welcome to this special issue of the newsletter where we highlight latest research and policy news and literature on COVID-19 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-67 by 27 March 2020

  • Two new countries/territories/areas from the Region of the Americas [2] have reported cases of COVID-19.
  • The total global number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 500 000.
  • Addressing the Extraordinary Summit on COVID-19, the WHO Director-General called on G20 leaders to fight, unite, and ignite against COVID-19.
  • WHO concluded the technical support mission to Egypt on 25 March 2020.
  • OpenWHO celebrates 1 million enrollments today. Seventy percent of the total enrollments are on COVID-19 resources, reflecting the critical role the platform is playing in supporting the response to the pandemic. On 25 March, anew course was launched describing how to design and operate treatment centres for the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 resources are hosted on two learning channels: one for courses in official WHO languages and a second for courses in additional national languages.
  • The number of countries implementing additional health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic as increased since the declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern. The United Nations World Tourism Organization launched a Crisis Committee to review the impact of the outbreak on the aviation, shipping and tourism sectors and propose innovative solutions for recovery

Situation in Numbers
Total (new) cases in last 24 hours

  • 509 164 confirmed (46 484) 23 335 deaths (2501)
  • Western Pacific Region 100 018 confirmed (960) 3567 deaths (27)
  • European Region 286 697 confirmed (36 414)16 105 deaths (2155)
  • -East Asia Region 2932 confirmed (396) 105 deaths (26)
  • Eastern Mediterranean Region 35 249 confirmed (2807) 2336 deaths (174)
  • Region of the Americas 81 137 confirmed (5425) 1176 deaths (111)
  • African Region 2419 confirmed (482) 39 deaths (8)

WHO Risk Assessment
Global Level    Very High
Links to the COVID-19 dashboards for most up-to-date figures:
WHO COVID-19 situation dashboard
WHO COVID-19 alerts in African Region
WHO COVID-19 readiness dashboard in African Region
WHO COVID-19 situation dashboard in European Region
WHO COVID-19 weekly surveillance dashboard in European Region
WHO COVID-19 situation dashboard in the Eastern Mediterranean Region
PAHO COVID-19 alerts in the Region of the Americas
All information about COVID- 19 can be found here:
Latest updates - Live press conference (Geneva)

Situation update for the EU/EEA and the UK as of 28 March 2020
As of 28 March 2020, 298 461 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: Italy (86 498), Spain (64 059), Germany (48 582), France (32 964), United Kingdom (14 543), Netherlands (8 603), Austria (7 697), Belgium (7 284), Portugal (4 268), Norway (3 581), Sweden (3 046), Czech Republic (2 279), Ireland (2 121), Denmark (2 046), Luxembourg (1 605), Poland (1 389), Romania (1 292), Finland (1 025), Greece (966), Iceland (890), Slovenia (632), Croatia (586), Estonia (575), Lithuania (358), Hungary (343), Slovakia (295), Bulgaria (293), Latvia (280), Cyprus (162), Malta (139) and Liechtenstein (60).

As of 28 March 2020, 18 372 deaths have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: Italy (9 136), Spain (4 858), France (1 995), United Kingdom (759), Netherlands (546), Germany (325), Belgium (289), Sweden (92), Portugal (76), Austria (68), Denmark (52), Greece (28), Romania (24), Ireland (22), Norway (16), Poland (16), Luxembourg (15), Hungary (11), Czech Republic (9), Slovenia (9), Finland (7), Cyprus (5), Lithuania (5), Bulgaria (3), Croatia (3), Iceland (2) and Estonia (1).
Situation dashboard: latest available data

The U.S. now has the world’s most reported coronavirus cases with 81,321, according to Times data. Over 1,000 deaths have been linked to the virus.
The United States now has more known cases than China, Italy or any other country has seen, according to data gathered by The New York Times.
Read the latest

Control Measures

Covid-19: Experts weigh safely relaxing coronavirus lockdowns
As public health and government officials the world over recognize that normalcy must slowly return, experts are crafting ways to safely ease Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. The approach that is garnering the most support? Aggressively finding cases, tracing any contacts these patients had, community surveillance, and quarantining and isolation.
More here
Considering inequalities in the school closure response to COVID-19

A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data

Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?
There may be more targeted ways to beat the pandemic.

Doctors scramble for best practices on reusing medical masks during shortage

MSF calls for no patents or profiteering on COVID-19 drugs, tests, and vaccines in pandemic
UN launches major humanitarian appeal to keep COVID-19 from ‘circling back around the globe’
To confront the unprecedented worldwide challenge posed by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, top UN officials on Wednesday, launched a massive humanitarian appeal to mitigate its impact, particularly on fragile countries with weak health systems.

WHO Director-General calls on G20 to Fight, Unite, and Ignite against COVID-19
Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit - Statement on COVID-19
COVID-19 Solidarity Fund close to US$100 million
Individuals and organizations who want to help fight the pandemic and support WHO and partners can now donate through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO. Donations have reached US$100 million dollars in just 2 weeks.
Countries measures
Covid-19: Highest risk patients are asked to stay at home for 12 weeks
A million and a half people in England who are at very high risk of severe illness and admission to hospital because of covid-12 will receive a letter this week asking them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

Europe’s migrant containment policies threaten the response to covid-19
Scientists and industry are dashing to make more ventilators
New designs could be assembled by DIY enthusiasts
The British government says that, within days, it will begin large-scale serological testing that will show whether a person has been previously infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The ‘finger-prick’ tests will be available to buy from Amazon and pharmacies, and can be performed at home. If the roll-out goes ahead as planned, the country could become the first to implement at-home testing on this scale. Many questions remain unanswered: how accurate the tests will be, who will make them and how they can be manufactured in sufficient amounts.
(Nature | Continuously updated)

Should scientists infect healthy people with the coronavirus to test vaccines?
Radical proposal to conduct ‘human challenge’ studies could dramatically speed up vaccine research.
Scientific publications and reports and news

Scientific brief: Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations
transmission of the COVID-19 virus can occur by direct contact with infected people and indirect contact with surfaces in the immediate environment or with objects used on the infected person (e.g. stethoscope or thermometer).
In the context of COVID-19, airborne transmission may be possible in specific circumstances and settings in which procedures that generate aerosols are performed. In analysis of 75,465 COVID-19 cases in China, airborne transmission was not reported.
There is some evidence that COVID-19 infection may lead to intestinal infection and be present in faeces. However, to date only one study has cultured the COVID-19 virus from a single stool specimen. There have been no reports of faecal−oral transmission of the COVID-19 virus to date.

Case-Fatality Rate and Characteristics of Patients Dying in Relation to COVID-19 in Italy

Characteristics and Outcomes of 21 Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19 in Washington State

Treating COVID-19—Off-Label Drug Use, Compassionate Use, and Randomized Clinical Trials During Pandemics

Possible Vertical Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 From an Infected Mother to Her Newborn

Antibodies in Infants Born to Mothers With COVID-19 Pneumonia

Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Possible COVID-19 Pharmacotherapies and QTc/TdP Liability
The Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal has released a pre-proof of a new paper titled Possible COVID-19 Pharmacotherapies and QTc/TdP Liability. From the abstract: "As the COVID-19 global pandemic rages across the globe, the race to prevent and treat this deadly disease has led to the “off label” re-purposing of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir with the potential for unwanted QT interval prolongation, and a risk of drug induced sudden cardiac death. With the possibility that a significant proportion of the world’s population could receive soon COVID-19 pharmacotherapies with torsadogenic potential for therapy or post-exposure prophylaxis, this document serves to help healthcare providers mitigate the risk of drug-induced ventricular arrhythmias while minimizing risk to personnel of COVID 19 exposure and conserving the limited supply of personal protective equipment.
Read the paper

Beware second waves of COVID-19 if lockdowns eased early: study
Extending school and work closures at the coronavirus’ ground zero in China may delay a second wave of infections, researchers said on Thursday, urging the rest of the world to take note.

The next frontier in coronavirus testing: Identifying the full scope of the pandemic, not just individual infections
Scientists are starting to roll out new blood tests for the coronavirus, a key development that, unlike the current diagnostic tests, will help pinpoint people who are immune and reveal the full scope of the pandemic.
The “serological” tests — which rely on drawn blood, not a nasal or throat swab — can identify people who were infected and have already recovered from Covid-19, including those who were never diagnosed, either because they didn’t feel particularly sick or they couldn’t get an initial test. Scientists expect those individuals will be safe from another infection for at least some time — so the tests could signal who could be prioritized to return to work or serve as a frontline health worker.
Assessing spread risk of Wuhan novel coronavirus within and beyond China, January-April 2020: a travel network-based modelling study
Effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions for containing the COVID-19 outbreak in China
When can we let up? Health experts craft strategies to safely relax coronavirus lockdowns

Under intense criticism, Gilead forsakes monopoly status for its experimental Covid-19 drug

Vir Biotechnology reports early progress in antibody treatment for Covid-19

Preventing COVID-19 outbreak in prisons: a challenging but essential task for authorities
WHO/Europe has published interim guidance on how to deal with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in prisons and other places of detention, entitled “Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention”. 
Read more about the guidance on dealing with COVID-19 in prisons

Q&A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding

Renin-Angiotensin System Blockers and the COVID-19 Pandemic
At Present There Is No Evidence to Abandon Renin-Angiotensin System Blockers

What we’ve learned about the coronavirus — and what we still need to know

SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data
Comparison of incidence and mortality rates of four common coronaviruses circulating in France with those of SARS COV-2 in OECD countries.
•As of 2 March 2020, 90 307 patients had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 worldwide, with 3086 deaths (mortality rate 3.4%).
•As of 2 March 2020, among OECD countries, 7476 patients had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, with 96 deaths (mortality rate 1.3%)
•As of 2 March 2020, in France, 191 people had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, with three deaths (mortality rate 1.6%).
•In OECD countries. the mortality rate for SARS-CoV-2 (1.3%) is not significantly different from that for common coronaviruses identified at the study hospital in France (0.8%; P=0.11).
•The problem of SARS-CoV-2 is probably overestimated, as 2.6 million people die of respiratory infections each year compared with less than 4000 deaths for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of writing.
A systematic review on the efficacy and safety of chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19
There is rationale, pre-clinical evidence of effectiveness and evidence of safety from long-time clin-ical use for other indications to justify clinical research on chloroquine in patients with COVID-19. However, clin-ical use should either adhere to the Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered Interventions (MEURI)framework or be ethically approved as a trial as stated by the World Health Organization. Safety data and datafrom high-quality clinical trials are urgently needed
Arguments in favour of remdesivir for treating SARS-CoV-2 infections
Transmission potential and severity of COVID-19 in South Korea

Cruise ship offers outbreak microcosm
The COVID-19 outbreak on the cruise ship Diamond Princess has given researchers the rare opportunity to study the virus in a highly controlled population. Almost all of the 3,711 passengers and crew on the cruise ship were tested, some of them more than once. Some 700 people were infected, with a substantial number — 18% — showing no symptoms (the passengers included a large number of elderly people, who are most likely to develop severe disease if infected, so the share of asymptomatic people in the general population is probably higher). In a separate preprint study that has not yet been peer reviewed, taking into account data from the ship and from China, researchers estimate a case fatality rate of around 1.1% — much lower than the 3.8% estimated by the World Health Organization.
(Nature | 5 min read)
A group of 100 research societies, professional organizations and universities is calling on the US government to lift restrictions on the use of fetal tissue in research. They argue that the limits delay necessary work on potential treatments for COVID-19. The ban was brought in to appease those who object to the use of tissue from aborted fetuses.
(Nature | Continuously updated)
Lives depend on decisions that are made on the basis of the predictions of mathematical models. Looking at the differing responses of the Netherlands, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, Science explores the influence and limitations of COVID-19 models.
Science | 9 min read
After being disappointed with drug companies’ achievements after the SARS and MERS outbreaks, biologist Stephen Burley considers how to avoid the same mistakes with COVID-19.
(Nature | 4 min read)
Read the latest coronavirus news, continuously updated on Nature.

What does a COVID-19 response look like with limited water?
People living in densely populated settings — including urban areas, refugee, and internally displaced people camps, and prisons — are especially vulnerable,

Contact-tracing mobile app could help track the spread of coronavirus
UNFPA advocates for women, girls suffering unseen impacts of COVID-19 pandemic
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is pledging support for those suffering from invisible impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including women and girls whose access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health care may be disrupted.
Protect ‘healthcare heroes’ from COVID-19, urges UN rights expert
States and business leaders must step up efforts to ensure that the selfless doctors, nurses, first-responders and other medical professionals working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic receive adequate protective equipment, a UN rights expert said on Friday.

Experts say COVID-19 will likely lead to US drug shortages
The US depends heavily on drugs made in other countries, especially India and China.
More »

Preserving Clinical Trial Integrity During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Risk Factors Associated With Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Death in Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pneumonia in Wuhan, China

Factors Associated with Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019
Mental health and psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic
Consequences of the Outbreak on society and Economy

Rich countries try radical economic policies to counter covid-19
History suggests that the effects will be permanent

Pandemic Bond Payouts Likely to Be Held Up By Fine Print

Coronavirus measures could cause global food shortage, UN warns
Exclusive: Protectionist policies and shortage of workers could see problems start within weeks

The coronavirus could devastate poor countries
It is in the rich world’s self-interest to help

Biotech in the time of the coronavirus: Stocks are down, but optimistic investors see opportunities ahead

The coronavirus has pushed 3.3m American workers onto the dole in a week
That is just the start. Joblessness is expected to keep soaring

Coronavirus pandemic's global impact seen from space in chilling satellite images
No region has been hit harder by the coronavirus than Bergamo, Italy.
Once quiet and wealthy, Bergamo is now a place where Red Cross workers, above, go door to door to carry away the afflicted, and coffins are so numerous the army has been called to take them. Officially, over 1,300 people have died there, but the actual toll may be four times higher.
This photo essay is a look at the devastating human toll.

Undocumented U.S. Immigrants and Covid-19
Risk communication
Updated WHO Myth buster
WHO WhatsApp health alert launches in Arabic, French and Spanish
Opening remarks by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at today's virtual press conference regarding COVID-19, on 27 March 2020:
Listen and download:

Corona: an epidemic of mass panic

Countries are using apps and data networks to keep tabs on the pandemic
And also, in the process, their citizens

Social Media and Emergency Preparedness in Response to Novel Coronavirus  
How to stay physically active during COVID-19 self-quarantine
Hand washing in areas with no running water - how to build a tippy tap 
WHO Technical guidance
New guidance
COVID-19: Operational guidance for maintaining essential health services during an outbreak 
Handbook for public health capacity-building at ground crossings and cross-border collaboration
Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases/outbreak on board ships

Critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19
Responding to community spread of COVID-19
This document provides technical guidance for government authorities, health workers, and other key stakeholders to guide response to community spread. It will be updated as new information or technical guidance become available. For countries that are already preparing or responding, this document can also serve as a checklist to identify any remaining gaps.
- Access the document
Critical preparedness, readiness and response actions
WHO has defined four transmission scenarios for COVID-19:
1. Countries with no cases (No cases);
2. Countries with 1 or more cases, imported or locally detected (Sporadic cases);
3. Countries experiencing cases clusters in time, geographic location and/or common exposure (Clusters of cases);
4. Countries experiencing larger outbreaks of local transmission (Community transmission).
This document describes the preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19 for each transmission scenario.
- Access the document

The Coronavirus Papers unlocked: 5,352 scientific articles covering the coronavirus - fully searchable and free.
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 Center often, as the outbreak is constantly evolving

Supporting coronavirus research with FREE access to over 17,000 Global Health records 
CABI’s Global Health – the go-to bibliographic database for the study and practice of national, regional and international public health – has made relevant content available for free to support the international effort to fight the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
You can access the free open access content by following this link:

Training courses:
Emerging respiratory viruses, including COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response and control
Simplified Chinese course
The English version of this course is available here:
La versión en español de este curso está disponible aquí :
La version française de ce cours est disponible sur :

COVID-19 Micro learning 
ECDC has produced series of micro learning activities (5-30 minutes) related to COVID-19.
The short e-learning courses provide guidance on the application of non-pharmaceutical countermeasures and include the following:
1. Introduction to COVID-19 NPC
2. Personal protective equipment against COVID-19
3. Environmental countermeasures against COVID-19
4. Social distancing countermeasures against COVID-19
5. Travel related countermeasures against COVID-19



Research and Development

Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Database of publications on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)



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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