Daily updates on the emerging novel coronavirus from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
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February 03, 2020 - Morning Update

EPI UPDATES The Chinese National Health Commission is reporting 17205 confirmed cases, 2296 cases are severe, and 152700 individuals are under medical observation.

Outside of China, the WHO situation report reports 146 confirmed cases in 23 countries. There have been 360 deaths in China and 1 death outside of China, in the Philippines. In the United States, there have been 11 confirmed cases in 5 states. 

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS Despite WHO recommendations to the contrary, countries continue to implement restrictions on travel to and from China in an effort to prevent transmission of 2019-nCoV. Cirium, an organization that analyzes travel industry data has estimated that 10,000 flights have been canceled.

United Arab Emirates airline Emirates announced that they will be shifting to smaller aircrafts but will be continuing flights to China flying to Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. 

Russia has announced a potential plan to deport foreign nationals that test positive for n-CoV. Russian officials also expressed confidence that they have all of the required countermeasures needed to prevent the spread of the outbreak domestically. 

PANDEMIC POTENTIAL Leading infectious disease experts including the NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci and former CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden have raised the prospect that the 2019-nCoV outbreak may not be controllable and appears to have pandemic potential. Dr. Fauci is quoted by the New York Times as saying, “It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic, […] But will it be catastrophic? I don’t know.”

‘INFODEMIC’ The most recent WHO situation report notes that the 2019-nCoV epidemic is accompanied by an epidemic of misinformation that is complicating the public’s ability to access factual information from trustworthy sources. In an effort to enable access to reliable guidance, risk communication and social media teams from WHO are tracking rumors, and conducting myth busting efforts to provide the public with evidence-based information. 

ECONOMIC IMPACTS Earlier today, the Chinese stock market re-opened for the first time since January 23. The market had been closed for lunar new year celebrations and saw a drop that analysts attributed to the ongoing nCoV outbreak. Markets dropped 8.7% in Shanghai and 9% in Shenzhen. Japan’s Nikkei is down 1% in today’s trading. There are also reports that Saudi Arabia has considered a short-term cut to oil production in response to decreased demand from China.

TREATMENT FACILITIES BEING BUILT China rapidly constructed two treatment facilities in Wuhan that were expected to open as early as today. The facilities are designed to increase capacity for the isolation and treatment of patients who have tested positive for 2019-nCoV. The 1,000 bed facility in Huoshenshan , will be staffed by 1,400 medical providers from the People’s Liberation Army. 

MEDICAL COUNTERMEASURE ADVANCEMENTS IN CHINA Remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences , is currently being assessed in clinical trials as a treatment for 2019-nCoV. The trials are being conducted in multiple hospitals within Wuhan, though a Beijing-based medical team from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital will reportedly be responsible for carrying out the trial. 

In addition, China’s National Health Commission announced today that vaccine development has progressed, as an infection model in primates has reportedly been established. 

SUPPLY SHORTAGE A shortage of 2019-nCoV diagnostic reagents has been reported in Wuhan. According to the referenced interview, there are not currently enough reagents to test all suspected cases within Wuhan. China’s National Health Commission announced , however, that diagnostic kits designed to detect 2019-nCoV antibodies are in production and are expected to be released soon. 

G-7 HEALTH OFFICIALS TO MEET TO COORDINATE NCOV RESPONSE Health ministers from the Group of 7 (United States, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Japan, and Italy) are meeting to discuss the ongoing 2019-nCoV outbreak. The aim of the meeting is to ensure a unified approach to responding to the outbreak. Updates will be available at the conclusion of the teleconference. 

HONG KONG TIGHTENS BORDER IN RESPONSE TO STRIKES Hong Kong will reportedly close four additional border checkpoints as the government has received increasing pressure from the public, including healthcare providers , to tighten border controls with mainland China. In response to counter the demands to close the border entirely, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor cited the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (2005) which outlines legal provisions on whether travel and borders can be restricted in the event of a health emergency.