Washington, January 21, 2020 (PAHO)—The Pan American Health Organization has updated an alert to its member countries on the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV), recommending that they strengthen surveillance activities to detect patients with acute respiratory disease, and that  “health care workers have access to up to date information on the illness, be familiar with the principles and procedures for handling nCoV infections, and be trained to consult a patient’s travel history to link this information with clinical data.”

Four countries have now reported confirmed cases to the World Organization Health (WHO): 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).

The alert notes there is still “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.”

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

PAHO/WHO encourage its Member States to strengthen surveillance activities to detect any unusual respiratory health event, and will closely monitor the epidemiological evolution of the situation, providing more detailed guidance when available. 

PAHO/WHO does not recommend any screening at entry points regarding this event, nor any restrictions on travel or trade.

Details of the alert are on Epidemiological Update - Novel coronavirus (nCoV) - 20 January 2020


— Web page for novel coronavirus
— Event page
— Disease Outbreak News
— Novel coronavirus in Thailand
Interim guidance information developed for Member States