Assessing the Risks of The Coronavirus Outbreak

On the last day of 2019, in Wuhan, the Hubei Province of China, reported several cases of pneumonia whose root cause was still unknown. After one week, the Chinese CDC informed about a new virus called Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) the main cause of this sudden outbreak. The Coronavirus is part of the SARS-CoV clade, phylogenetically.

As of the end of January 2020, there has been over 7,000 cases of 2019-nCoV worldwide that has been confirmed by a laboratory. Majority of them have been in China, with over 70 cases being reported from different countries all over the world.

Up until then, 170 deaths were reported that are related with the Coronavirus. In the last week of January, 2020, the health authorities in China confirmed the spread of this virus through human contact, outside the Hubei province. Additionally, 16 healthcare workers are supposedly infected with this virus.

On the 24th of January, 2020, France reported three cases of this virus that were imported in the EU and EEA, including another case being reported towards the end of January 2020. Moreover, on the 28th of January, Germany reported 4 cases in their local region that had indirect connection to Wuhan. On the 29th of January, a case was reported in Finland that was imported from Wuhan.

The CDC in China is assessing this virus’s transmissibility to be enough for sustained transmission of the community without any control measures taken for the first time. In the near future, more deaths are expected in China. Plus, more cases are to be expected amongst the travelers who are coming from China, especially the Hubei province. That is why the health authorities within the Member States of the EU and EEA need to stay alert and reinforce their capacity when it comes to responding to an event like this.

Because of the lack of an in-depth epidemiological analyses, there are quite a few uncertainties when it comes to assessing the virus’s risk. Based on the information that is currently out there, the ECDC thinks that:

  • The impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is potentially high.
  • The possibility of EU and EEA citizens being infected, who live in or are visiting the Hubei province, is potentially high.
  • The possibility of EU and EEA citizens being infected, who are from the other provinces of China, is moderate but it will increase.
  • There is a medium to high possibility of more imported cases within the EU and EEA.
  • The possibility of observing more limited transmission from one human to another inside the EU and EEA is predicted to be low. That is if there is an early detection of a case and the right practice from the Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) is executed, especially in the healthcare settings within the EU and EEA countries.
  • Supposing that the cases within the EU and EEA are identified early and the proper IPC actions are executed, the possibility of sustained transmission from one human to another inside the EU and EEA is at the moment low.
  • If a new and imported case within the countries of the EU and EEA is detected late and the proper IPC measures weren’t applied, then this would highly increase the chance of a transmission from one human to another. Hence, in this situation the possibility of a secondary transmission within the community setting can be very high.


To read the complete report from the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control), click on the link below: