CORONAVIRUS: CHINA BROADENS REGIONAL LOCKDOWN AFTER MORE DEATHS AND CASES CONFIRMED IN 10 COUNTRIES

BOSTON, Jan. 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- To date, there have been 830 confirmed cases and 26 deaths - all but two of the fatalities have been in Wuhan and most have been elderly. There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment. It is advised to avoid gatherings of people, to avoid people who are obviously ill and coughing and to wash your hands with soap and water regularly.


WHAT: Situational Assessment, Update and Important Advice from the Healix International/HX Global Medical Team

WHO: Dr. Adrian Hyzler, chief medical officer is available for interviews (Note: He is UK based)

Overview

The outbreak has been caused by a “coronavirus,” thought to have jumped from an unknown animal source to humans in Wuhan’s Huanan South China Seafood Market. Wuhan is the capital city of Hubei province in central China. The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as SARS that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which developed from camels. The virus infects the lungs, and symptoms start with a fever and cough. It can progress to shortness of breath and breathing difficulties leading to pneumonia. It has now spread throughout China and across international borders. To date, there have been 830 confirmed cases and 26 deaths - all but two of the fatalities have been in Wuhan and most have been elderly. There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment. It is advised to avoid gatherings of people, to avoid people who are obviously ill and coughing and to wash your hands with soap and water regularly.

COUNTRIES AFFECTED

  • CHINA 830 confirmed cases, 26 deaths. The Hubei province is the origin of the outbreak and the majority of confirmed cases are in Wuhan, the capital city of the province. Wuhan, and at least nine other neighboring cities, including Huanggang, Ezhou, Xiantao and Chibi, have been temporarily “locked down” by the Chinese government. Transport hubs have been closed and roadblocks are in place to prevent any movement of people in or out of the region. There are now around 33 million people in this locked-down area. A new 1,000-bed hospital is being built in Wuhan specifically to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and authorities plan to have it running by Monday. Construction began on Thursday night. It has been made mandatory for all residents and government workers to wear face masks in the city of Wuhan. All live animal markets have been ordered to close. Citizens have been advised to avoid crowds and public gatherings.
  • THAILAND 5 confirmed cases, 0 deaths. Thailand has recorded the highest for any country outside of China.
  • JAPAN 2 confirmed cases, 0 deaths. The first case is a man in his thirties who traveled directly from Wuhan. The second case is a man in his forties, thought to have transited from Hong Kong.
  • TAIWAN 1 confirmed case, 0 deaths.
  • SOUTH KOREA 1 confirmed case, 0 deaths. Two cases confirmed - a 35-year-old Chinese woman who traveled from Wuhan, and another man in his fifties.
  • VIETNAM 2 confirmed cases, 0 deaths. Both cases are Chinese citizens.
  • SINGAPORE 3 confirmed cases, 0 deaths. The first is a 66-year-old man. Two more confirmed cases have just been announced.
  • MACAU 1 confirmed case, 0 deaths.
  • HONG KONG 2 confirmed case, 0 deaths. Two confirmed cases, with a possible 106 suspected cases under observation. The government has designated two former military barracks as quarantine stations. The national airline, Cathay Pacific, has said that it will allow cabin crew to wear surgical masks on mainland flights.
  • UNITED STATES 1 confirmed case, 0 deaths One confirmed case in Washington State. The man had traveled back into the country from Wuhan but symptoms only developed later, prompting him to go to the hospital to report his symptoms and his recent travel - he is said to be recovering well.
  • REST OF THE WORLD Saudi Arabia and India, both recently reported to have their first cases, have denied any confirmed cases of the ‘Wuhan’ coronavirus. In the UK, 14 people are currently being tested for the virus. Authorities in Texas are investigating a potential second case, and in Australia, at least six people have been quarantined after arriving from China, pending test results for the coronavirus.

ADVICE TO TRAVELERS: PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE TO REDUCE RISK OF INFECTION

If you or any of your employees are currently traveling in this area, our team of medical experts have put together the following advice on measures that should be taken. Healix/HX Global has extensive experience with these types of situations; if you have a need for a more in-depth conversation or specific consult enquiries@hx-global.com for additional information.

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) or with an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing and sneezing and before handling and consuming food. When coughing and sneezing, use disposable tissues and dispose of them carefully and promptly. Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell or who are coughing or sneezing and avoid sharing personal items. Avoid unprotected contact with wild or domestic farm animals (alive or dead). Thoroughly cook all meat and eggs before consuming.

IF YOU BECOME UNWELL WITHIN 14 DAYS OF RETURNING FROM CHINA: Seek prompt medical advice if you develop symptoms of breathing difficulties, temperature or cough. Call ahead to alert the medical facility, warning them about your recent travel and that you may have been exposed. Try to limit contact with others if you become unwell after travel until you have been assessed by a health professional. When coughing and sneezing, use disposable tissues and dispose of them carefully and promptly. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) or with an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after coughing and sneezing and before handling and consuming food. Wearing a surgical face mask consistently may help to prevent spread to others.

ADVICE TO EMPLOYERS

  1. Make sure that all individuals have clear, consistent and regularly updated guidance on: how to recognize symptoms in themselves and others; what precautions to take to prevent exposure; and who to contact if you think you may have symptoms.
  2. RESTRICT TRAVEL Review all travel plans to the affected region on a regular basis, making use of electronic remote conferencing facilities wherever possible.
  3. REMOTE WORKING Make provision, as far as practicable, for travelers and employees within China, and neighboring countries with confirmed cases, to work from home in order to reduce using public transport and coming into contact with crowds of people.
  4. REVIEW VACCINATION POLICY Advise employees of the benefits of the ‘seasonal flu vaccine’ to help prevent infection with ‘flu’ that may be confused with the new coronavirus- as well as helping to protect them from the flu virus that kills half a million people annually. **Wuhan and surrounding cities are on lockdown so no travel is permitted to the region, by order of the Chinese government.

WHAT WE STILL DON’T KNOW ABOUT 2019-NCOV

WHAT SPECIES OF ANIMAL IS THE ‘RESERVOIR’ (SOURCE) OF THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS?

It could be a live or a dead animal, almost certainly a bird or a mammal - there are usually bats involved in Coronavirus transmission cycles. It is very hard for scientists to determine the specific animal source, as the Wuhan market that was thought to be at the center of the outbreak was quickly and thoroughly sanitized, thereby erasing any helpful evidence.

HOW IS THE VIRUS TRANSMITTED FROM THE ANIMAL RESERVOIR AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED FROM HUMAN-TO-HUMAN? It is likely that this respiratory virus is transmitted by coughs and sneezes causing minute aerosol droplets containing the virus to hang in the air, ready to be breathed in by other contacts. How long does the virus remain in the air? Can the virus remain on other objects such as door handles or surfaces, providing another source for transmission?

WHAT IS THE ‘INCUBATION PERIOD’ (TIME FROM INFECTION TO DISPLAYING SYMPTOMS) OF THE INFECTION? And how long, before symptoms develop, is an individual contagious and capable of spreading the infection to others- is it 2-3 days or is it 7-10 days or any combination in between? There is a difference between being ‘infected’ and being ‘infectious’ (capable of transmission).

WHAT IS THE MORTALITY RATE OF THE INFECTION? This is a direct ratio of the number of fatalities compared to the number infected. It is always hard to quantify this figure as many individuals will remain ‘sub-clinical’, not knowing that they are actually infected, and an unknown number of people will also die without anyone ever knowing that they were actually infected with 2019-nCoV. This ratio will eventually determine the severity of the outbreak.

ABOUT HX GLOBAL

HX Global is the US division of Healix International, a leading provider of international medical, security and travel assistance services. We are relied upon to look after the welfare of millions of expatriates, travelers and local nationals in every country of the world, 24 hours a day. Our clients include some of the world's most respected Multi-National Corporations, Governments, NGOs and Insurers.

Stephanie Miller
Director, Corporate Communications 
HX Global, Inc. 
617.750.7907 
stephanie.miller@hx-global.com

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