On January 30th, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concernexternal icon” (PHEIC). A PHEIC is declared if an event poses a public health threat to other nations through the spread of disease and potentially requires a coordinated international response.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS, SARS, and now with 2019-nCoV.
Both MERS and SARS have been known to cause severe illness in people. The complete clinical picture with regard to 2019-nCoV is still not fully clear. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Learn more about the symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV.
There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including whether and how well it spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccine or treatment medications).
This is a very serious public health threat. The fact that this virus has caused severe illness and sustained person-to-person spread in China is concerning, but it’s unclear how the situation in the United States will unfold at this time.
The risk to individuals is dependent on exposure. At this time, some people will have an increased risk of infection, for example healthcare workers caring for 2019-nCoV patients and other close contacts. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low. The goal of the ongoing U.S. public health response is to prevent sustained spread of 2019-nCov in this country.
What to Expect
More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States.
|Locations with Confirmed 2019-nCoV Cases
|The Republic of Korea
|United Arab Emirates