The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has issued an alert to its member countries on the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV), recommending that “healthcare workers have access to up-to-date information on the illness, be familiar with the principles and procedures for handling nCoV infections, and be trained to inquire about a patient’s travel history in order to connect this information with clinical data.”
On December 31, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China, reported a conglomerate of 27 cases of acute respiratory syndrome of unknown etiology among people linked to a wet market (of marine products) in Wuhan City (population of 19 million), capital of Hubei Province (population of 58 million), southeast of China; of which seven were reported as severe.
On January 7, 2020, the authorities of China reported that a novel coronavirus (nCoV) was identified as a possible etiology. Other tests have ruled out severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus, and other common viral or bacterial respiratory infections.
As of January 12, 2020, 41 cases with nCoV infection have been preliminarily diagnosed in Wuhan City. Of the 41 cases reported, seven are seriously ill. The onset of symptoms of the 41 confirmed cases of nCoV ranges between December 8 2019 and January 2, 2020. No additional cases have been detected since January 3, 2020 in this area.
According to available information, there is no clear evidence of transmission from person to person. However, additional research is necessary to determine the modes of transmission, the common source of exposure, and the presence of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases that are not detected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has prepared a series of technical documents on nCoV to support member states. The information is available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
Reports indicate that there is no evidence to suggest that person-to-person transmission occurs easily. This finding would be consistent with an animal reservoir pathogen. However, human-to-human transmission, included in the nosocomial environment, has been documented on a recurring basis for other emerging coronaviruses, such as SARSCoV and MERS-CoV.
It is probable that the information available to date shared by WHO about the appearance of this new coronavirus will raise concerns in the Caribbean. At the level of preparations, national authorities could review the actions considered in response to the spread of SARS CoV in 2003, adapting and / or adopting those that are proportionate to the current risk.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
PAHO/WHO encourage its member states to strengthen surveillance activities to detect any unusual respiratory health event and will closely monitor the epidemiological evolution of the situation, providing more detailed guidance when available.
PAHO/WHO does not recommend any screening at entry points regarding this event, nor any restrictions on travel or trade. (PAHO/WHO)