The first confirmed cases of 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 January 24, 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.
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.
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.
In the past, systematic implementation of infection prevention and control measures were effective in controlling both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
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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More on the pneumonia cases associated with the novel coronavirus from China from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC):
Chinese authorities have identified a cluster of novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV infections in Wuhan City, China. Cases have also been reported from Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Nepal, Malaysia, France, Australia. All the cases outside China had a recent travel history to China prior onset, except in Vietnam. The first cases in the EU/EEA were confirmed in France. Further global spread is likely.
The 2019-nCoV is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern, especially when there’s little knowledge about the characteristics of the virus, how it spreads between people, how severe are the resulting infections and how to treat them.
Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed but more information is needed to evaluate the full extent of this mode of transmission. The source of infection is unknown and could still be active. EU/EEA countries should ensure that timely and rigorous infection prevention and control measures (IPC) are applied around cases detected in the EU/EEA, in order to prevent further sustained spread in the community and healthcare settings.
Assuming that timely and rigorous IPC measures are applied around imported cases detected in the EU/EEA, the likelihood of further sustained spread in community settings is considered low.
All flights from Wuhan have been canceled. The Chinese New Year celebrations at the end of January will increase travel volume to/from China and within China, hence increasing the likelihood of arrival of cases in the EU.