Coronavirus: EU countries will evacuate its citizens from China’s Wuhan by airplane

Most EU countries have plans and measures in place to contain this kind of infections and Europe has well-equipped laboratories that can confirm probable cases in addition to hospitals that are prepared to treat patients accordingly. EU/EEA countries should ensure that timely and rigorous infection prevention and control measures (IPC) are applied around people diagnosed with 2019-nCoV. Such measures will keep the likelihood of further sustained spread in both healthcare and community settings low.
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Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals, including humans, and birds. In humans, the virus causes respiratory infections which are typically mild but, in rare cases, can be lethal. In cows and pigs they may cause diarrhea, while in chickens it can cause an upper respiratory disease.

On 31 December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown aetiology was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province China. On 9 January 2020, China CDC reported a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as the causative agent of this outbreak, which is phylogenetically in the SARS-CoV clade.

As of 26 January 2020, a total of 2 026 laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV cases have been reported, 1 988 in China and 38 imported cases from other countries around the world. Fifty six deaths have been reported among the cases. Chinese health authorities have confirmed human-to-human transmission outside Hubei province and 16 healthcare workers are reported to have been infected.

Imported cases in Europe

On 24 January 2020, the first imported cases (3) of 2019-nCoV were identified in France.
The rapid increase in the number of reported cases can be partly attributed to the ongoing improved testing protocols and epidemiological investigations of the Chinese authorities; however, since the original source remains unknown and human-to-human transmission has been documented, further cases and deaths are expected. Further cases are also expected among travellers from Hubei Province. Therefore, health authorities in Member States should remain vigilant and strengthen their capacity to respond to such an event.

There are considerable uncertainties in assessing the risk of this event, due to lack of detailed epidemiological analyses.

On the basis of the information currently available, ECDC considers that:
– the potential impact of 2019-nCoV outbreaks is high;
– further global spread is likely;
there is currently a moderate likelihood of infection for EU/EEA citizens residing in or visiting Wuhan, Hubei province, China;
– there is a high likelihood of further case importation into countries with the greatest volume of people who have travelled from Wuhan, Hubei Province (i.e. countries in Asia);
– there is a moderate likelihood of further case importation into EU/EEA countries;
– adherence to appropriate infection prevention and control practices, particularly in healthcare settings in EU/EEA countries with direct links to Hubei, means that the likelihood of a case detected in the EU resulting in secondary cases within the EU/EEA is low;
– the impact of the late detection of an imported case in an EU/EEA country without the application of appropriate infection prevention and control measures would be high, therefore in such a scenario the risk of secondary transmission in the community setting is estimated to be very high.

The first confirmed cases of Coronavirus 2019-nCoV in Europe are not unexpected. Their identification proves that detection and confirmation of this novel virus is working in France, showing a high level of preparedness to prevent and control further infections.

French health authorities have confirmed three cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) virus in France since 24 January 2020. The first confirmed cases in Europe are not unexpected given the developments of the last few days with several 2019-nCoV cases reported in countries outside of China.

The fact that these cases were identified, proves that detection and confirmation of this novel virus is working in France, showing a high level of preparedness to prevent and control possible infections of 2019-nCoV.

ECDC is working with the EU/EEA Member States to ensure that they are prepared to manage any imported cases. ECDC is monitoring this event through epidemic intelligence activities, and provides risk assessments to guide EU Member States and the EU Commission in their response activities.

At this stage, it is likely that there will be more imported cases in Europe. Even if there are still many things unknown about 2019-nCoV, European countries have the necessary capacities to prevent and control an outbreak as soon as cases are detected.

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