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Chinese Novel Corona Virus Outbreak: The Latest World Health Organisation Situation Report: January 26

 

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Chinese Novel Corona Virus Outbreak: The Latest World Health Organisation Situation Report: January 25

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Chinese Novel Corona Virus Outbreak: Everyone Concerned Should Keep on Working in Concert to Identify the Source and the Nature of How Human to Human Transmissions Occurring and Reinforce Screening Surveillance and Containment: The International Health Regulations 2005 Emergency Committee

 

 

|| Thursday: January 23: 2020 || ά. Following today’s, Thursday, January 23, meeting of the International Health Regulations 2005 Emergency Committee on the Novel Coronavirus in China, reconvened by the WHO Director-General, that took place in WHO Geneva Headquarters, the Committee has made its decision and issued advice to all concerned as to the way to deal with this new virus emergence. The Emergency Committee did not conclude that it was time to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern:PHEIC. However, the Committee stands ready to be reconvened at short notice should that be deemed necessary by the WHO Director-General.

The meeting of the Emergency Committee, convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations:IHR:2005: regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus 2019 in the People’s Republic of China, with exportations, currently reported in the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore, took place on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, from 12:00 to 16:30 Geneva time:CEST and on Thursday, January 23, 2020, from 12:00 to 15:10.

The Committee’s role is to give advice to the Director-General, who makes the final decision on the determination of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern:PHEIC. The Committee, also, provides public health advice or suggests formal temporary recommendations as appropriate. Proceedings of the meeting: Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee were convened by teleconference. The Director-General welcomed the Committee and thanked them for their support. He turned the meeting over to the Chair, Professor Didier Houssin.

Professor Houssin, also, welcomed the Committee and gave the floor to the Secretariat. On January 22, representatives of WHO’s Legal Department and the Department of Compliance, Risk management and Ethics, briefed the Committee members on their roles and responsibilities.  

The Committee members were reminded of their duty of confidentiality and their responsibility to disclose personal, financial or professional connections, that might be seen to constitute a conflict of interest. Each member, who was present was surveyed and no conflicts of interest were judged to be relevant to the meeting.

The Chair, then, reviewed the agenda for the meeting and introduced the presenters. On January 23, representatives of the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Thailand and the Republic of Korea updated the Committee on the situation in their respective countries. There have been increased numbers of reported cases in China, with 557 confirmed as of today. 

Conclusions and Advice of the Committee: On January 22, the members of the Emergency Committee expressed divergent views on whether this event constituted a PHEIC or not. At that time, the advice was that the event did not constitute a PHEIC but, the Committee members agreed on the urgency of the situation and suggested that the Committee should be reconvened in a matter of days to examine the situation further.

After the announcement of new containment measures in Wuhan on January 22, the Director-General asked the Emergency Committee to reconvene on January 23 to study the information provided by Chinese authorities about the most recent epidemiological evolution and the risk-management measures taken.

Chinese authorities presented new epidemiological information, that showed an increase in the number of cases, of suspected cases, of affected provinces and the proportion of deaths in currently reported cases of 04%, 17 of 557. They reported fourth-generation cases in Wuhan and second-generation cases outside Wuhan, as well as, some clusters outside Hubei province. They explained that strong containment measures, closure of public-transportation systems in Wuhan City, as well as, other nearby cities. After this presentation, the Emergency Committee was informed about the evolution in Japan, Republic of Korea and Thailand and that one new possible case had been identified in Singapore.

The Committee welcomed the efforts made by China to investigate and contain the current outbreak. The Committee considered the following elements to be of critical significance:

Human to human transmission is occurring and a preliminary R0 estimate of 01.4-02.5 was presented. Amplification has occurred in one health care facility. Of confirmed cases, 25% are reported to be severe. The source is still unknown, most likely, an animal reservoir and the extent of human to human transmission is still not clear.  

Several members considered that it was still too early to declare a PHEIC, given its restrictive and binary nature. Based on these divergent views, the Emergency Committee formulated the following advice:

Advice to WHO

The Committee stands ready to be reconvened in approximately ten days’ time or earlier, should the Director-General deem it necessary. 

The Committee urged WHO to support on-going efforts through a WHO international multi-disciplinary mission, including, national experts. The mission would review and support efforts to investigate the animal source of the outbreak, the extent of human to human transmission, the screening efforts in other provinces of China, the enhancement of surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections in these regions and to reinforce containment and mitigation measures. A mission would provide information to the international community to aid in understanding of the situation and its potential public health impact.

WHO should continue to provide all necessary technical and operational support to respond to this outbreak, including, with its extensive networks of partners and collaborating institutions, to implement a comprehensive risk communication strategy and to allow for the advancement of research and scientific developments in relation to this novel coronavirus.

In the face of an evolving epidemiological situation and the restrictive binary nature of declaring a PHEIC or not, WHO should consider a more nuanced system, which would allow an intermediate level of alert. Such a system would better reflect the severity of an outbreak, its impact and the required measures and would facilitate improved international co-ordination, including, research efforts for developing medical counter measures.

Advice to the People’s Republic of China

::: Provide more information on cross-government risk management measures, including, crisis management systems at national, provincial and city levels and other domestic measures. 

::: Enhance rational public health measures for containment and mitigation of the current outbreak.

::: Enhance surveillance and active case finding across China, particularly, during the Chinese New Year celebration.

::: Collaborate with WHO and partners to conduct investigations to understand the epidemiology and the evolution of this outbreak, including, specific investigations to understand the source of the novel coronavirus, notably, the animal reservoir and animals involved in the zoonotic transmission, as well as, the understanding of its full potential for human to human transmission and where transmission is taking place, the clinical features, associated with infection and the required treatment to reduce morbidity and mortality.

::: Continue to share full data on all cases with WHO, including, genome sequences and details of any health care worker infections or clusters.

::: Conduct exit screening at international airports and ports in the affected provinces, with the aims early detection of symptomatic travellers for further evaluation and treatment, while minimising interference with international traffic.

::: Encourage screening at domestic airports, railway stations and long-distance bus stations as necessary.

Advice to Other Countries

It is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country. Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment, including, active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection and to share full data with WHO. Countries are required to share information with WHO according to the IHR.

Technical advice is available at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.  Countries should place particular emphasis on reducing human infection, prevention of secondary transmission and international spread and contributing to the international response though multi-sectoral communication and collaboration and active participation in increasing knowledge on the virus and the disease, as well as, advancing research. Countries should, also, follow travel advice from WHO.

Advice to the Global Community

As this is a new coronavirus and it has been previously shown that similar coronaviruses required substantial efforts for regular information sharing and research, the global community should continue to demonstrate solidarity and co-operation, in compliance with Article 44 of the IHR:2005, in supporting each other on the identification of the source of this new virus, its full potential for human to human transmission, preparedness for potential importation of cases and research for developing necessary treatment.

The Director-General thanked the Committee for its advice.

List of the members of the Emergency Committee can be found here 

International Health Regulations 

Novel Coronavirus:2019-nCoV 

Questions and Answers about coronavirus infections

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