Daily updates on the emerging novel coronavirus from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
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February 05, 2020 - Afternoon Update

EPI UPDATES Per China’s National Health Commission , there have been a total of 24,324 cases reported and 490 deaths in China. 23,260 suspected cases have been identified, and 3,219 patients are in “serious” condition. Of the newly reported cases in China roughly 80% came from Hubei Province, the region that remains the epicenter of the outbreak and China’s top priority. 

FDA AUTHORIZES NCOV TEST The FDA granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the 2019-nCoV Real-Time PCR Diagnostic Panel developed by the CDC. This regulatory mechanism is intended to hasten the availability of medical countermeasures during emergencies. The EUA will enable the rapid roll out of the CDC assay to state and local public health labs, which will dramatically expand national surveillance capacity for 2019-nCoV. Scott Becker, the executive director of the Association Public Health Laboratories stressed that the roll out of these test kits will require patience, stating that once states receive the test kits, it could take 5 to 6 days for state labs to incorporate the new test and ensure that it is running correctly. 

EVALUATING THE GLOBAL HEALTH RESPONSE Global health expert Lawrence Gostin published an article in Health Affairs that critically evaluates the response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak from a legal perspective. Issues examined include the WHO’s PHEIC declaration process and the impact of such a declaration. Additionally, he examines the ethical and logistical nature of China’s mass quarantine as well as individual country quarantines for individuals who have been evacuated from China.

2019-NCOV TO BE RENAMED The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses is preparing a manuscript for publication that will provide a new name for 2019-nCoV. Multiple scientists and communications experts have noted the need for a more descriptive, easy to use name that avoids the pitfalls of past naming conventions for pathogens. The new name is expected within days. 

HONG KONG IMPOSES NEW QUARANTINE RULE Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, announced a new quarantine rule for the region. The rule will require any traveler from mainland China, including Hong Kong citizens, to enter a 14 day quarantine process. In the same news conference, Lam also shared that Hong Kong would set aside funding totaling $1.28 Billion USD to fight the outbreak. 

WUHAN ADDS THREE NEW TEMPORARY TREATMENT CENTERS Reports show that Wuhan City is increasing their capacity to house 2019-nCoV patients. The new announcement stated that three large local spaces will be repurposed to hold and treat mild cases of 2019-nCoV. The repurposed gymnasium, exhibition center, and building complex are expected to hold 3400 beds and plans are that every 50 beds will be staffed with one physician and one nurse. 

TECH COMPANIES JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST MISINFORMATION The 2019-nCoV outbreak has generated a large amount of misinformation on social media channels. Earlier this week Facebook announced that it would take actions to remove misinformation regarding the outbreak from its social media platform. The policy change was announced in a company blog post and is a step toward a more involved presence in efforts to address misinformation. The WHO has also announced that they have developed a partnership with Google to work to prevent misinformation. While these companies have taken a step in the right direction, the challenge at hand will not be solved overnight. 

U.S.TRANSPORTS CITIZENS FROM CHINA Late last night the US Government flew two planes of citizens to the US from Hubei Province. The 350 individuals will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine on a military base in Northern California. 

GATES FOUNDATION PLEDGES 2019-NCOV RESPONSE FUNDING Earlier today the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged up to $100 million for the response efforts around 2019-nCoV, raising the total pledged by $90 million. In late January, the Foundation had pledged $10 million to support the nCoV response in China and Africa. The newly pledged funds will go toward improvements in detection and efforts to isolate and treat nCoV patients, with a specific focus on vulnerable populations in South East Asia.