Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Novel Coronavirus Continues to Spread Throughout China and the World, with Case and Death Counts Rising


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to track the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Reports indicate that there are now more than 6,000 confirmed cases world-wide. The number of confirmed 2019-nCoV cases in mainland China has surpassed the number of confirmed SARS cases, another coronavirus, that occurred during the 2002-2003 outbreak.

This fast-acting coronavirus has spread quickly to approximately 20 countries, with the Middle East confirming the region’s first cases today in the United Arab Emirates. As of January 29, 2020 the CDC reports that there are five total confirmed cases in the U.S.

Although the 2019-nCoV strain was first linked to a seafood and animal market, patients confirmed to have 2019-nCoV have since reported no linkage to these types of markets, raising suspicions of person-to-person spread. Immunocompromised persons, children, and older adults are especially vulnerable to infection. Human coronaviruses are capable of spreading from person-to-person through respiratory secretions, like those produced from coughing or sneezing. According to CDC, 2019-nCoV infection can cause a variety of impacts in humans. Infected persons might be asymptomatic, have symptoms similar to those of a common cold, or become severely ill. No vaccine currently exists for this strain, or any other strains, of coronavirus; however, health scientists are actively researching a vaccine.

As of 1/29/2020 at 2:30 pm EST, Johns Hopkins CSSE Coronavirus Global Cases Map: Source

Airlines around the world are reducing or suspending flights to mainland China due to a drop in demand. Some U.S. airlines are providing waivers to travelers who no longer want to use their booked tickets to travel to China during the outbreak, while United Airlines has cancelled some flights to China completely.

The New York Times reports that the U.S. is taking precautionary measures for its citizens, including evacuating over 200 Americans from the outbreak epicenter in Wuhan. It has been reported that an additional 15 U.S. airports (20 in total) will implement health screenings to identify travelers that might be ill, especially those on direct or connecting flights from Wuhan, China. CDC set the travel notice to Level 3 for China, encouraging travelers to avoid non-essential travel.

After convening the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee, the 2019-nCoV outbreak was not declared  a public health emergency of international concern at this time. The WHO continues to make every effort to understand the nature of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, including launching a data sharing platform to help better inform the world-wide public health response.

Proper infection prevention and control practices will be key to curbing the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The WHO has provided guidance for those traveling, suggesting travelers avoid people with a cough or fever; encouraging frequent handwashing; and discouraging unnecessary touching of the eyes, nose, and mouth. CDC has also released a Hospital Preparedness Checklist to help healthcare providers identify, isolate, and control 2019-nCoV cases, as well as interim recommendations for the commercial airline industry to address the spread of disease.

The Hagerty Team will continue to provide information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation.

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