The novel coronavirus continues to spread - what should we know about it?
Unfortunately, there is no good news regarding the new coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases approaches 3000, the number of suspected cases nears 6000 and the number of deaths approaches 100. Experts now assume that the virus can be transmitted from person to person. In Wuhan, where there was an outbreak of mysterious lung diseases at the end of December, at least 15 hospital employees have become infected with the coronavirus now known as "2019-nCoV". Infections or suspected cases have also been reported in other Chinese cities and across the globe.
The WHO has convened its Emergency Committee to discuss the declaration of a health emergency and potential actions to be taken. Given that medical staff has also been affected by the virus, we recommend colleagues to familiarize themselves with the latest information provided by the WHO and national health authorities, without the need to raise unnecessary alarms at this point in European territory.
Summarizing information distributed by the WHO, by January 27th, 2020 the situation was as follows:
The patient should be isolated (in the case of 1. in a single room, in the case of 2. in an isolation room with an anteroom/lock), and appropriate measures should be taken to prevent the risk of infections due to breath/mucose droplets, i.e. protective gowns, gloves, protective goggles, mouth protection, nose protection or FFP2/FFP3 masks. The case must be reported to the respective public health department and appropriate laboratory diagnostics must be initiated.
For Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics, sample material should be taken from the upper respiratory tract [nasopharyngeal (NP) and/or oropharyngeal (OP) swabs or irrigation/aspirator] and lower respiratory tracts (sputum as instructed/induced, tracheal secretion, Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), also known as bronchoalveolar washing). The material must be then sent to national or any laboratories that can inform national and international health monitor agencies in real-time for any further decisions.