International Health officials report that on 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on 7 January.
According to the Chinese authorities, these initial patients were most likely trade related dealers or food vendors in the Huanan Seafood market. Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Six deaths have been declared all are linked to this coronavirus, and more than 300 people have fallen ill with the flu-like disease. More than 200 people are currently being treated in hospital.
Chinese authorities have identified this illness related to a new coronavirus, which has resulted in close to 300 cases in China, and most recently, additional cases being identified in a growing number of countries internationally. A first case in the United States was announced yesterday, on January 21, 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the USA case who landed in Seattle was a patient who recently returned from Wuhan, China. While originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. The experts say that it remains unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.
The patient from Washington with confirmed 2019-nCoV infection returned to the United States from Wuhan on January 15, 2020. The patient sought care at a medical facility in the state of Washington, where the patient was treated for the illness. Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, healthcare professionals suspected this new coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States on direct or connecting flights from Wuhan, China.
With the majority of cases confined to China, new cases have emerged in the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Macau, Japan and the Philippines. Therefore, international experts are on high alert after having announced that the virus can transmit from human to human.
"Common" Human coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person to others through
the air by coughing and sneezing
close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
rarely, fecal contamination
Since January 17, 2020, travelers from Wuhan to the United States are to undergo entry screening for symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV at three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan, China: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports.
"It is now clear from the latest information that there is at least some human-to-human transmission. Infections among health-care workers strengthen the evidence for this," the WHO in China said in a statement Monday.
WHO officials are to convene in Geneva today for an emergency committee meeting to will determine whether the outbreak “constitutes an international public health concern”, and if so, they will determine further management recommendations and the appropriate protocols to be followed.
Québec Health Minister Danielle McCann said Tuesday that officials "are getting regular updates about the coronavirus outbreak. I want to reassure Quebecers that we're following the situation on an hourly basis. We have to remind people that there are no cases in Quebec, and that the Public Health Agency of Canada is following the situation internationally and we are in contact with them continuously."
Dr. M. Oughton, an Infectious Diseases specialist at the Jewish General Hospital commented in an aired interview with CTV news yesterday that "This is an opportunity for the virus to travel far beyond where it's centred right now." Referring to the upcoming New Year festival in China.
The Chinese New Year of 2020 falls on January 25th (Saturday), and the celebrations will last to February 8th, about 15 days in total. As an official public holiday, Chinese people can get seven days' absence from work, from January 24th to 30th. Many will travel on these dates, so necessary precautions will be implemented.
A greater concern in Canada right now is the influenza virus, which latest data from the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that it has already sent as many as 802 Canadians to hospital and has killed 13 people so far this 2019-2020 flu season.
The recommendations from the WHO meeting will be made available later today.