Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Situation Report & Recommendations
First published 27th January 2020
by Tom Warneke
Asia | Understanding Your World | Operating in Foreign Environments| Resolving Incidents & Crisis
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first reported on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China. Since then, the death toll has risen to 81 with over 3,000 identified cases and affected people. Cases have been identified in across China as well as Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and the US.
The national Lunar new year holiday in China has been extended by three days to Sunday, in an attempt to contain the spread.
According to the World Health Organisation and national authorities, there have been at least 44 confirmed cases outside China.
- Eight cases: Thailand
- Five: USA, Australia
- Four: Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea
- Three: France, Japan
- Two: Vietnam
- One: Nepal, Canada
The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that this outbreak does not meet the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). However they do state there is very high risk of spread in China, high risk regionally and a moderate risk globally. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals, including humans, and birds. In humans, the virus causes respiratory infections which are typically mild but, in rare cases, can be lethal.
The biggest risk currently is that the coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine. Most of the deaths have been of elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems.
Animal-to-human cases have been confirmed and transmission at a seafood market in Wuhan is suspected. All cases presenting with severe pneumonia have been hospitalised for treatment in isolation.
The biggest risk at present is the lack of knowledge. Generally, coronaviruses are known to be able to mutate, with the risk that a less contagious form of the virus becomes highly contagious. This could have an impact not only on the transmission pattern and rate but also the death rate. The virus could change in either direction, to become either more or less of a threat.
Where did this begin?
It’s believed that the virus originated at the Huanan animal & seafood market in Wuhan which regularly trades in illegal or endangered species. Potential sources of the new coronavirus are two species of snake: the Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra, according to The Conversation but exact origins are still being determined.
So far, China has heavily restricted travel within the country including all travel into or out of Wuhan being prohibited. Further to this, Hong Kong has prohibited all people from Wuhan from entering the SAR. Countries globally including the UK, UAE neighbourhood Asian countries have all instituted temperature screening for flights coming from China.
The Chinese authorities took the extraordinary step of closing off Wuhan, canceling planes and trains leaving the city and suspending buses, subways and ferries within it. By Friday, at least 12 other cities in Hubei Province had issued travel restrictions, including Huanggang, home to seven million people, and Ezhou, a city of about one million. (New York Times)
Precautions & Staying Safe
Defer all travel to cities in Hubei under official travel restrictions. Defer non-essential travel to the rest of Hubei due to the potential for short-notice travel restrictions.
For individuals, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises its “standard recommendations” focusing on “hand and respiratory hygiene”.
That essentially means washing hands frequently using disinfectants, hand sanitisers and soaps and covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Do not visit “wet” markets (markets with live animals) or farms. Avoid direct contact with animals (live or dead) and their environment.
Do not travel if you are sick.
Avoid activities where you are likely to be exposed to large groups of people.
Maintain good personal hygiene. Avoid touching your face. Keep some distance from people who are obviously sick.
Ensure food, including eggs and meat, is thoroughly cooked.
The advice also suggests avoiding contact with live animals in places where there have been coronavirus cases, and not to eat raw or uncooked animal products.
Monitor the situation closely. Continue to monitor this alert, and the Travel Security Alerts.
After your return from travel, monitor your health for 14 days and if you develop symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Limit your contact with other people as much as possible and let the medical facility know about your travel history.
Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulty. Around 25% of cases in China have been severe and fatalities have been recorded.
Treatment of the new coronavirus is supportive with medication to reduce fever and to support and improve respiratory function. There is no specific antiviral therapy against this disease. There was news earlier that a ‘HIV Superdrug’ has been used with some success so we’re following these developments closely.
There is no available vaccine against 2019-nCoV.
Many of our clients globally are already engaging with us as they determine how to monitor the situation whilst continuing their operations and keep their teams and operations safe.
We’ve setup a hub on our website to help our clients track the situation as well as access the latest in analysis as well as advice from the World Health Organisation — find us at www.complexglobal.co/covid-19
We’re helping our clients through monitoring and analysis of the situation via inCountry as well as our local, regional & global analysts and experts as well as our crisis response and emergency management provisions — ensuring our clients are assisted in their time of need.
If you have concerns about your current operations and the risks to your team or your business or if you feel you need a more developed understanding in the current situation and what might help you be better prepared, our team is able to assist. We have an expansive team in most regions with access to the latest information and analysis as well as scenario planning and support. To find out how we can support you, our team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org