COVID-19 situation: 31 March 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 31 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-70 by 30 March 2020

  • No new countries/territories/areas reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
  • WHO has updated the operational planning guidelines to help countries maintain essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document includes a set of immediate actions that countries should consider at national, regional, and local level to reorganize and maintain access to high-quality essential health services for all. For more information:

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

  • 693 282 confirmed (58 469) 33 106 deaths (3215)
  • Western Pacific Region103 775 confirmed (987) 3649 deaths (23)
  • European Region 392 815confirmed (31784)23 962 deaths (2535)
  • -East Asia Region4084 confirmed (375) 158 deaths (19)
  • Eastern Mediterranean Region 46 329 confirmed (3552) 2813 deaths (145)
  • Region of the Americas142 081 confirmed (21 289) 2457 deaths (484)
  • African Region 3486 confirmed (482) 60 deaths (09)

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 31 March 2020
As of 31 March 2020, 386 282 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: Italy (101 739), Spain (85 195), Germany (61 913), France (44 550), United Kingdom (22 141), Belgium (11 899), Netherlands (11 750), Austria (9 618), Portugal (6 408), Norway (4 226), Sweden (4 028), Czech Republic (3 002), Ireland (2 910), Denmark (2 577), Poland (2 055), Luxembourg (1 988), Romania (1 952), Finland (1 313), Greece (1 212), Iceland (1 086), Croatia (790), Slovenia (763), Estonia (715), Lithuania (484), Hungary (447), Latvia (376), Bulgaria (359), Slovakia (336), Cyprus (230), Malta (156) and Liechtenstein (64).
As of 31 March 2020, 26 110 deaths have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: Italy (11 591), Spain (7 340), France (3 024), United Kingdom (1 408), Netherlands (864), Germany (583), Belgium (513), Sweden (146), Portugal (140), Austria (108), Denmark (77), Ireland (54), Romania (44), Greece (43), Poland (31), Norway (26), Czech Republic (24), Luxembourg (22), Hungary (15), Finland (13), Slovenia (11), Bulgaria (8), Cyprus (7), Lithuania (7), Croatia (6), Estonia (3) and Iceland (2).
Situation dashboard: latest available data

WHO Says Coronavirus Outbreak in Europe May Be Approaching Peak

Control Measures
Cases in Hubei province in China — ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak — have dropped to practically zero. and the region has started easing its extreme lockdown. Health authorities are watching for a second wave of infections, while deploying widespread testing and monitoring to keep it suppressed.
(Nature | 7 min read)
Century-Old Vaccine Investigated as a Weapon Against Coronavirus
'The more vaccine projects we have, the better our chances'
The Guardian
What explains Covid-19’s lethality for the elderly? Scientists look to ‘twilight’ of the immune system
Researchers on Monday announced the most comprehensive estimates to date of elderly people’s elevated risk of serious illness and death from the new coronavirus: Covid-19 kills an estimated 13.4% of patients 80 and older, compared to 1.25% of those in their 50s and 0.3% of those in their 40s.

Developing Covid-19 Vaccines at Pandemic Speed
The need to rapidly develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 comes at a time of explosion in basic scientific understanding, including in areas such as genomics and structural biology, that is supporting a new era in vaccine development.
Johnson & Johnson Announces a Lead Vaccine Candidate for COVID-19; Landmark New Partnership with U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; and Commitment to Supply One Billion Vaccines Worldwide for Emergency Pandemic Use
Johnson & Johnson today announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate from constructs it has been working on since January 2020; the significant expansion of the existing partnership between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA); and the rapid scaling of the Company’s manufacturing capacity with the goal of providing global supply of more than one billion doses of a vaccine.

The US keeps millions of chickens in secret farms to make flu vaccines. But their eggs won't work for coronavirus –

Not wearing masks to protect against coronavirus is a ‘big mistake,’ top Chinese scientist says
1. Everyone wear masks to prevent transmission from people who don't know they're infected.
2. Isolate infected away from family.
3. Use thermometers widely.
What can hospitals still do to prep for COVID-19?
Doctors in hospitals in coronavirus epicenters such as New York City are reporting "apocalyptic" scenes of death, disease, and lack of equipment to protect healthcare workers from infection.  In his paper, Toner and coauthor Richard Waldhorn, MD, advise hospitals to first focus on: (1) making plans based on US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FluSurge projections and collaboration between all hospitals in a region, (2) limiting spread of the virus within and beyond the hospital, (3) optimizing the hospital workforce, and (4) assigning limited resources in a rational, ethical, and organized way.
Quantifying SARS-CoV-2 transmission suggests epidemic control with digital contact tracing
COVID-19 is a rapidly spreading infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2, a betacoronavirus, which has now established a global pandemic. Around half of infected individuals become reported cases, and with in- tensive care support, the case fatality rate is approximately 2%.
Likelihood of survival of coronavirus disease 2019
A case fatality ratio of an infectious disease measures the proportion of all individuals diagnosed with a disease who will die from that disease. For an emerging infectious disease, this ratio is thus a very important indicator not only of disease severity but also of its significance as a public health problem.
Countries measures

Chaos reigned at the CDC during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak,
ProPublica reports.
Hundreds of emails sent from January to early March reveal “an antiquated public health system trying to adapt on the fly.”
The correspondence reveals:

  • Woefully disorganized case-tracking
  • Testing criteria that contradicted the agency’s own guidance
  • A bungled roll-out of a web platform to track cases

 “The CDC’s inability to respond quickly to a pandemic like Covid-19 shouldn’t come as a surprise,” writes Pierre E. Rollin, a 27-year CDC veteran, in a STAT commentary. A crisis of leadership and bureaucracy has crippled innovation at the agency. 


Global COVID-19 cases top 700,000; Trump extends plan to slow virus
US social distancing steps will extend through April.
More »

In the Coronavirus Fight in Scandinavia, Sweden Stands Apart
The country has drawn global attention with an unorthodox approach while its neighbors have imposed extensive restrictions.

Local Communities Make Protective Masks for Frontline Workers Combating Coronavirus 

Read more
Japan’s strategy of under-testing could have masked the extent of the spread, Vox reports—which led America to disaster. A high-ranking member of the Japan Medical Association said that there are limits on hospital beds, and reportedly pushed for an emergency declaration—a move Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has resisted, The Asahi Shimbun reports.
Estimating the number of infections and the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in 11 European countries
21,000 to 120,000 deaths have been averted in 11 European countries because of social distancing, according to a Nature article published today by Imperial College London researchers. The authors measured the effects through a change in the virus’s effective reproduction number. They conclude “It is therefore critical that the current interventions remain in place and trends in cases and deaths are closely monitored in the coming days and weeks to provide reassurance that transmission of SARS-Cov-2 is slowing.”

Europe’s hospitals among the best but can’t handle pandemic
Outbreak experts say Europe’s hospital-centric systems, lack of epidemic experience and early complacency are partly to blame for the pandemic’s catastrophic tear across the continent.
Duke researchers are decontaminating N95 masks so doctors can reuse them to treat coronavirus patients
IKEA starts producing protective gear for health care workers
China will begin reporting asymptomatic confirmed COVID-19 cases amid growing concern that carriers with no symptoms could be spreading the virus.
Migrants and asylum seekers in Portugal now have full access to the country’s health services after being temporarily granted full citizenship rights until June 30.
Nigerian authorities have ordered emergency stocks of the malaria drug chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19; Lagos State is set to begin a clinical trial to test the drug’s efficacy against the virus.
Daily Trust
The Rights and Health of Refugees, Migrants and Stateless Must be Protected in COVID-19 Response
World's 70 million displaced people face a coronavirus disaster, report says
The Washington Post 

Your Employee Tested Positive for Covid-19. What Do You Do?
 Harvard Business Review

the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates 2,200 people will die each day by April 15. By then, the nation will need 54,000 more beds than it has.
Too Many COVID-19 Patients, Too Few Ventilators: An Ethical Framework to Guide Hospitals – Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Q&A)

How would overwhelmed hospitals decide who to treat first?

Automakers are racing to make ventilators. But it's not that easy
Scientific publications and reports and news
A new COVID-19 test can return results in 5 minutes –
The Verge

How sick will the coronavirus make you? The answer may be in your genes

We’re racing against the clock’: Researchers test wearables as an early warning system for Covid-19

In a time of distancing due to coronavirus, the health threat of loneliness looms
How to keep the new coronavirus from being used as a terrorist weapon
On March 26, CNN reported that US agencies now consider the intentional spread of SARS-CoV-2 by extremist groups to be a growing threat in the United States. Richard Pilch, director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, writes about an assessment of the risk and why he thinks the threat can't be ignored.
Read more.
Coronavirus overview: How political ideology and governmental incompetence can kill you
Until recently, the United States was considered the essential linchpin in the world’s efforts to monitor incipient outbreaks and limit their spread. The US failure in dealing with COVID-19 domestically is therefore reflective of a larger problem—the erosion of the international infrastructure for dealing with major global threats in general. Bulletin editor John Mecklin writes about how this is far larger than the current pandemic.
Read more.

Debate flares over using AI to detect Covid-19 in lung scansIn the absence of readily available testing for Covid-19, a series of studies concluded that artificial intelligence could analyze chest scans of patients with suspected illness and accurately diagnose the infection. But the good news was quickly met with a healthy dose of skepticism over the use of such technology in the wake of the pandemic. Proponents of using AI to help with the outbreak argue that the technology ought to mobilized to help with the crisis, while opponents argue that flaws in study design and the limited number of chest scans from Covid-19 patients means that there aren't enough data to properly train AI algorithms. Other skeptics are also concerned about sharing imaging equipment and potentially exposing even more patients to the illness.
Read more here

Ventilators are in high demand for Covid-19 patients. How do they work?
As the number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. grows, the need for ventilators is also growing. But hospitals across the country are facing a shortage of ventilators, which some Covid-19 patients need because they suffer respiratory symptoms so severe that they need these machines to continue breathing. In the absence of normal lung function, ventilators can supply oxygen through a tube and face mask. But for severe Covid-19 cases, physicians have to insert a tube into a patient's airway. Intubation in these instances forces breathing because fluid build-up in the lungs doesn't allow the organs to otherwise take in much oxygen.
Learn more here
Five days of worship that set a virus time bomb in France.
The prayer meeting kicked off the biggest cluster of COVID-19 in France - one of northern Europe’s hardest-hit countries - to date, local government said. Around 2,500 confirmed cases have been linked to it. Worshippers at the church have unwittingly taken the disease caused by the virus home to the West African state of Burkina Faso, to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, to Guyana in Latin America, to Switzerland, to a French nuclear power plant, and into the workshops of one of Europe’s biggest automakers.
Other religious gatherings have been linked to the spread of the virus: A large church in South Korea has triggered more than 5,000 cases there.

Two new road maps lay out possible paths to end coronavirus lockdowns
The first, from Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy expert and vice-provost of the University of Pennsylvania, suggests lockdowns could ease up in June. The second, from former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb and colleagues, doesn’t set a date, but rather outlines the evidence that communities would need to begin lifting some of the more draconian restrictions.
Both road maps are predicated on the United States sharply ramping up testing for the disease and hospitals acquiring sufficient supplies at a time of extraordinary global demand and growing shortages — both of personal protective equipment to shield health workers from infection and ventilators to help the gravely ill to survive.

We Can Safely Restart the Economy in June. Here’s How.
Get tough now. Test widely to isolate those infected, and slowly revive businesses with workers and customers who have developed immunity.

National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening

First US infant death linked to COVID-19 reported in Illinois

3 babies in China may have been infected with coronavirus in the womb
Experts say the evidence in these cases is still inconclusive and does not prove the new coronavirus can pass from mother to child during pregnancy.

Cat infected with COVID-19 from owner in Belgium
This is the first case of human-to-cat transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Estimating the infection and case fatality ratio for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) using age-adjusted data from the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, February 2020

Estimates of the severity of coronavirus disease 2019: a model-based analysis
Our estimated overall infection fatality ratio for China was 0·66% (0·39–1·33), with an increasing profile with age. Similarly, estimates of the proportion of infected individuals likely to be hospitalised increased with age up to a maximum of 18·4% (11·0–7·6) in those aged 80 years or older.
These early estimates give an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and show a strong age gradient in risk of death.

Mystery in Wuhan: Recovered Coronavirus Patients Test Negative ... Then Positive
A spate of mysterious second-time infections is calling into question the accuracy of COVID-19 diagnostic tools even as China prepares to lift quarantine measures to allow residents to leave the epicenter of its outbreak next month. It's also raising concerns of a possible second wave of cases.

Chinese wet markets come back to life, sell bats and other animals as world continues to fight coronavirus
While most of these wet markets in China were shuttered as the disease widened its grip, it is now being reported that the dank, narrow markets have come back to life

Tens of thousands of scientists are redeploying to fight coronavirus
As labs shut down around the world, researchers are finding creative ways to donate their time, supplies and expertise.
The Curve Is Not Flat Enough
The Atlantic
Didier Raoult is a prominent microbiologist who co-discovered gigantic ‘mimiviruses’, which are so large that they are visible under a light microscope. He’s also the source of controversial research touting the effects of chloroquine on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which gained prominence when it was promoted by US President Donald Trump. Pharmaceutical researcher Derek Lowe raises questions about the bold nature of Raoult’s claims and the unconventional human trial of the drug.
(Science Translational Medicine blog | 6 min read)
Consequences of the Outbreak on society and Economy

The Global Impact of COVID-19 and Strategies for Mitigation and Suppression
The COVID-19 pandemic could have infected 90% of the world’s population and killed 40.6 million people if no mitigation measures had been put in place to combat it, according to estimates from an influential modelling group at Imperial College London. The report did not quantify the social and economic impact of mitigation policies.
Risk communication
Updated WHO Myth buster
WHO WhatsApp health alert launches in Arabic, French and Spanish
Governments need to think twice before they suppress messages related to COVID-19, argues anthropologist Heidi Larson, who studies vaccine rumors. The nature of misinformation is not always clear-cut, and authorities risk undermining public trust, says Larson.
(Nature | 5 min read)
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
A practical manual about how to set up and manage a severe acute respiratory infections treatment centre and a screening facility in health care facilities
This document provides recommendations, technical guidance, standards and minimum requirements for setting up and operating severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) treatment centres in low- and middle-income countries and limited-resource settings, including the standards needed to repurpose an existing building into a SARI treatment centre, and specifically for acute respiratory infections that have the potential for rapid spread and may cause epidemics or pandemics

 The First Few X cases and contacts (FFX) investigation protocol for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19:
This is about identification and tracking of cases and their close contacts in the general population, or restricted to close settings (like households, health-care settings, schools). FFX is the primary investigation protocol to be initiated upon identification of the initial laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a country

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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