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Epidemiological Update - Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) - 20 January 2020

Situation Report
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Situation Summary

Since the Epidemiological Alert on the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) published on January 16, 2020 (available at: and until January 20, 2020 four countries have reported to the World Organization Health (WHO) confirmed cases: China (198 cases, including three deaths, 2 cases in Beijing and 1 case in Guandong, all imported from Wuhan), Japan (1 case, imported from Wuhan, China), Thailand (two cases imported from Wuhan, China) and Republic of Korea (1 case imported from Wuhan, China).

Public health response and risk assessment for the Americas

According to the information disclosed by the Chinese authorities, an epidemiological investigation led by a national team of experts began on December 31, 2019 and the following public health measures were implemented: case isolation, identification and followup of contacts, environmental sanitation and laboratory research.

To date, continues the uncertainty about the new pathogen and the spectrum of manifestations it may cause, the source of infection, the mode of transmission, the incubation period, the severity of the disease and the specific control measures.

Current evidence suggests that person-to-person transmission is limited, which would be consistent with what is known about other similar pathogens. However, person-to-person transmission, included in the nosocomial environment, has been documented on a recurring basis for other emerging coronaviruses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-causing Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Therefore, control measures taken for SARS and MERS can guide the response against this new pathogen.