"Europe is ready to respond to Coronavirus outbreak"
22 January 2020
Prof Dr Herman Goossens (UAntwerp) is following the events closely to ensure health and security of European citizens.
On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) China office was informed of patients infected with pneumonia of unknown aetiology in Wuhan, China. Evidence suggested that the initial cluster of cases was related to exposure in a seafood market in Wuhan (closed 1 January 2020). In the three weeks since that notification, numbers have escalated to 222 confirmed cases (218 in China, 2 in Thailand, 1 in Japan, and 1 in South Korea). There have been six deaths related to the outbreak, of which the most recent case was announced on the 21st of January. Of note is that 15 healthcare workers have become infected, one of whom is critically ill. The cause of this outbreak has been identified as a novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The first genetic sequence of the 2019-nCoV was shared on 12 January, aiding the rapid development of diagnostic kits, instrumental for adequate outbreak preparedness and response. Today, WHO confirmed clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the 2019-nCoV with some suggestion of sustained transmission. The start of Lunar New Year holiday on 25 January will involve significant population movement within China and cross-border, exacerbating potential for spread of the virus. On 22 January, the Director General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, will convene and Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations to ascertain whether the 2019-nCoV outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
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