The World Health Organization (WHO) announced last week that Chinese authorities have made an initial identification of a new coronavirus connected to recent cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, China. On Saturday, the first death linked to the disease was reported by Chinese officials.
To date, reports from China indicate 15 of the 59 suspected cases have tested positive and 7 have been designated as being critical. Only 25 of the 59 have been cleared and discharged. A Chinese national who traveled from Wuhan to Thailand has also been confirmed to be infected with the new coronavirus.
Health officials have indicated that while serious, this novel strain is not as severe as other recently identified coronaviruses, specifically SARS-CoV (2002) which killed 800 people and MERS-CoV (2012). Existing medications used to combat the latter two strains may prove effective against the new virus; however, further testing is required.
Health officials are still investigating the source and transmission method but have already linked several cases to a fish market in Wuhan City where reptile and game meat was also sold – the market is now closed. Chinese authorities announced [through the WHO] that there is no evidence that this virus is “readily transmit[ed]” through human to human contact. The WHO does not recommend “any specific measures for travelers” … and “advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available.”
VIGILINT recommends pre-planning and action to mitigate traveler health risk. As with such diseases, consider that certain travelers or their companions may have a higher risk of infection: people with compromised immune systems, the elderly and the young.
For corporations, we recommend the following:
Monitor and track the disease with travelers’ destinations/locations in mind
Develop an emergency communication and alert strategy specific to this incident
Communicate now with potentially impacted students, employees, contractors, and stakeholders as to when and where they should treat medical emergencies
Inform travelers to dine at reputable establishments and to consume well-cooked and properly prepared foods
Advise travelers and expatriates, who may be cooking, to avoid shopping at fish and meat markets – especially game meats
Reassess current strategy if human to human transmission is confirmed
If you are traveling to this area and would like more information on the coronavirus, please contact VIGILINT at 919. 914.0900 for additional pre-trip planning assessments.