The number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases significantly increased in Hubei province on Wednesday, February 12, after the National Health Commission implemented new standards for reporting on the outbreak. Officials will now report “clinically diagnosed” cases in their daily figures under the new standards. On Wednesday, 242 new fatalities and 14,840 cases were recorded in Hubei province, with 13,332 of the new cases falling under the clinically diagnosed classification. At least 59,558 cases have been reported nationwide, as well as 1355 associated fatalities, as of Wednesday.
New control measures are being implemented throughout China to prevent the spread of the outbreak and to assist in responding to increasing healthcare needs. On Thursday, February 13, wartime control measures were put in place in Shiyan’s Zhangwan district in Hubei province, which closes all buildings in the area for the next 14 days. Authorities have also begun requisitioning private hospitals, hotels, apartments, and vehicles in multiple regions to provide more space to treat coronavirus patients. According to media reports, emergency legislation for requisitioning has been passed in the cities of Wuhan, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, Fuzhou, and Xi’an.
SAir China has announced that it will cancel all flights to Athens (Greece) from Monday, February 17, through Wednesday, March 18, in an effort to prevent further spread of the outbreak. The 2020 Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to be held in Shanghai between April 17-19, was also postponed on February 12, due to health concerns. Other major international events may also be suspended or delayed in the near term.
Further international spread of the COVID-19 virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 28 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals in China are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
- Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
- Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
- Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
- Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
- Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease.