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      WHO Declares COVID-19 a Pandemic

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      Acta Bio Medica : Atenei Parmensis

      Mattioli 1885

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          Abstract

          The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, has declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic (1). At a news briefing, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that over the past 2 weeks, the number of cases outside China increased 13-fold and the number of countries with cases increased threefold. Further increases are expected. He said that the WHO is “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” and he called on countries to take action now to contain the virus. “We should double down,” he said. “We should be more aggressive.” Among the WHO’s current recommendations, people with mild respiratory symptoms should be encouraged to isolate themselves, and social distancing is emphasized and these recommendations apply even to countries with no reported cases (2). Separately, in JAMA, researchers report that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was most often detected in respiratory samples from patients in China. However, live virus was also found in feces. They conclude: “Transmission of the virus by respiratory and extrarespiratory routes may help explain the rapid spread of disease.”(3). COVID-19 is a novel disease with an incompletely described clinical course, especially for children. In a recente report W. Liu et al described that the virus causing Covid-19 was detected early in the epidemic in 6 (1.6%) out of 366 children (≤16 years of age) hospitalized because of respiratory infections at Tongji Hospital, around Wuhan. All these six children had previously been completely healthy and their clinical characteristics at admission included high fever (>39°C) cough and vomiting (only in four). Four of the six patients had pneumonia, and only one required intensive care. All patients were treated with antiviral agents, antibiotic agents, and supportive therapies, and recovered after a median 7.5 days of hospitalization. (4). Risk factors for severe illness remain uncertain (although older age and comorbidity have emerged as likely important factors), the safety of supportive care strategies such as oxygen by high-flow nasal cannula and noninvasive ventilation are unclear, and the risk of mortality, even among critically ill patients, is uncertain. There are no proven effective specific treatment strategies, and the risk-benefit ratio for commonly used treatments such as corticosteroids is unclear (3,5). Septic shock and specific organ dysfunction such as acute kidney injury appear to occur in a significant proportion of patients with COVID-19–related critical illness and are associated with increasing mortality, with management recommendations following available evidence-based guidelines (3). Novel COVID-19 “can often present as a common cold-like illness,” wrote Roman Wöelfel et al. (6). They report data from a study concerning nine young- to middle-aged adults in Germany who developed COVID-19 after close contact with a known case. All had generally mild clinical courses; seven had upper respiratory tract disease, and two had limited involvement of the lower respiratory tract. Pharyngeal virus shedding was high during the first week of symptoms, peaking on day 4. Additionally, sputum viral shedding persisted after symptom resolution. The German researchers say the current case definition for COVID-19, which emphasizes lower respiratory tract disease, may need to be adjusted(6). But they considered only young and “normal” subjecta whereas the story is different in frail comorbid older patients, in whom COVID 19 may precipitate an insterstitial pneumonia, with severe respiratory failure and death (3). High level of attention should be paid to comorbidities in the treatment of COVID-19. In the literature, COVID-19 is characterised by the symptoms of viral pneumonia such as fever, fatigue, dry cough, and lymphopenia. Many of the older patients who become severely ill have evidence of underlying illness such as cardiovascular disease, liver disease, kidney disease, or malignant tumours. These patients often die of their original comorbidities. They die “with COVID”, but were extremely frail and we therefore need to accurately evaluate all original comorbidities. In addition to the risk of group transmission of an infectious disease, we should pay full attention to the treatment of the original comorbidities of the individual while treating pneumonia, especially in older patients with serious comorbid conditions and polipharmacy. Not only capable of causing pneumonia, COVID-19 may also cause damage to other organs such as the heart, the liver, and the kidneys, as well as to organ systems such as the blood and the immune system. Patients die of multiple organ failure, shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome, heart failure, arrhythmias, and renal failure (5,6). What we know about COVID 19? In December 2019, a cluster of severe pneumonia cases of unknown cause was reported in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. The initial cluster was epidemiologically linked to a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, although many of the initial 41 cases were later reported to have no known exposure to the market (7). A novel strain of coronavirus belonging to the same family of viruses that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), as well as the 4 human coronaviruses associated with the common cold, was subsequently isolated from lower respiratory tract samples of 4 cases on 7 January 2020. On 30 January 2020, the WHO declared that the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and more than 80, 000 confirmed cases had been reported worldwide as of 28 February 2020 (8). On 31 January 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that all citizens returning from Hubei province, China, would be subject to mandatory quarantine for up to 14 days. But from China COVID 19 arrived to many other countries. Rothe C et al reported a case of a 33-year-old otherwise healthy German businessman :she became ill with a sore throat, chills, and myalgias on January 24, 2020 (9). The following day, a fever of 39.1°C developed, along with a productive cough. By the evening of the next day, he started feeling better and went back to work on January 27. Before the onset of symptoms, he had attended meetings with a Chinese business partner at his company near Munich on January 20 and 21. The business partner, a Shanghai resident, had visited Germany between January 19 and 22. During her stay, she had been well with no signs or symptoms of infection but had become ill on her flight back to China, where she tested positive for 2019-nCoV on January 26. This case of 2019-nCoV infection was diagnosed in Germany and transmitted outside Asia. However, it is notable that the infection appears to have been transmitted during the incubation period of the index patient, in whom the illness was brief and nonspecific. The fact that asymptomatic persons are potential sources of 2019-nCoV infection may warrant a reassessment of transmission dynamics of the current outbreak (9). Our current understanding of the incubation period for COVID-19 is limited. An early analysis based on 88 confirmed cases in Chinese provinces outside Wuhan, using data on known travel to and from Wuhan to estimate the exposure interval, indicated a mean incubation period of 6.4 days (95% CI, 5.6 to 7.7 days), with a range of 2.1 to 11.1 days. Another analysis based on 158 confirmed cases outside Wuhan estimated a median incubation period of 5.0 days (CI, 4.4 to 5.6 days), with a range of 2 to 14 days. These estimates are generally consistent with estimates from 10 confirmed cases in China (mean incubation period, 5.2 days [CI, 4.1 to 7.0 days] and from clinical reports of a familial cluster of COVID-19 in which symptom onset occurred 3 to 6 days after assumed exposure in Wuhan (10-12). The incubation period can inform several important public health activities for infectious diseases, including active monitoring, surveillance, control, and modeling. Active monitoring requires potentially exposed persons to contact local health authorities to report their health status every day. Understanding the length of active monitoring needed to limit the risk for missing infections is necessary for health departments to effectively use resources. A recent paper provides additional evidence for a median incubation period for COVID-19 of approximately 5 days (13). Lauer et al suggest that 101 out of every 10 000 cases will develop symptoms after 14 days of active monitoring or quarantinen (13). Whether this rate is acceptable depends on the expected risk for infection in the population being monitored and considered judgment about the cost of missing cases. Combining these judgments with the estimates presented here can help public health officials to set rational and evidence-based COVID-19 control policies. Note that the proportion of mild cases detected has increased as surveillance and monitoring systems have been strengthened. The incubation period for these severe cases may differ from that of less severe or subclinical infections and is not typically an applicable measure for those with asymptomatic infections In conclusion, in a very short period health care systems and society have been severely challenged by yet another emerging virus. Preventing transmission and slowing the rate of new infections are the primary goals; however, the concern of COVID-19 causing critical illness and death is at the core of public anxiety. The critical care community has enormous experience in treating severe acute respiratory infections every year, often from uncertain causes. The care of severely ill patients, in particular older persons with COVID-19 must be grounded in this evidence base and, in parallel, ensure that learning from each patient could be of great importance to care all population,

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          Most cited references 13

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          Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China

          Summary Background A recent cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel betacoronavirus, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics and treatment and clinical outcomes of these patients. Methods All patients with suspected 2019-nCoV were admitted to a designated hospital in Wuhan. We prospectively collected and analysed data on patients with laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection by real-time RT-PCR and next-generation sequencing. Data were obtained with standardised data collection forms shared by WHO and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium from electronic medical records. Researchers also directly communicated with patients or their families to ascertain epidemiological and symptom data. Outcomes were also compared between patients who had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and those who had not. Findings By Jan 2, 2020, 41 admitted hospital patients had been identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection. Most of the infected patients were men (30 [73%] of 41); less than half had underlying diseases (13 [32%]), including diabetes (eight [20%]), hypertension (six [15%]), and cardiovascular disease (six [15%]). Median age was 49·0 years (IQR 41·0–58·0). 27 (66%) of 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market. One family cluster was found. Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 [98%] of 41 patients), cough (31 [76%]), and myalgia or fatigue (18 [44%]); less common symptoms were sputum production (11 [28%] of 39), headache (three [8%] of 38), haemoptysis (two [5%] of 39), and diarrhoea (one [3%] of 38). Dyspnoea developed in 22 (55%) of 40 patients (median time from illness onset to dyspnoea 8·0 days [IQR 5·0–13·0]). 26 (63%) of 41 patients had lymphopenia. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome (12 [29%]), RNAaemia (six [15%]), acute cardiac injury (five [12%]) and secondary infection (four [10%]). 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died. Compared with non-ICU patients, ICU patients had higher plasma levels of IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα. Interpretation The 2019-nCoV infection caused clusters of severe respiratory illness similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and was associated with ICU admission and high mortality. Major gaps in our knowledge of the origin, epidemiology, duration of human transmission, and clinical spectrum of disease need fulfilment by future studies. Funding Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission.
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            A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, 2019

            Summary In December 2019, a cluster of patients with pneumonia of unknown cause was linked to a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China. A previously unknown betacoronavirus was discovered through the use of unbiased sequencing in samples from patients with pneumonia. Human airway epithelial cells were used to isolate a novel coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, which formed a clade within the subgenus sarbecovirus, Orthocoronavirinae subfamily. Different from both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, 2019-nCoV is the seventh member of the family of coronaviruses that infect humans. Enhanced surveillance and further investigation are ongoing. (Funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China and the National Major Project for Control and Prevention of Infectious Disease in China.)
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              A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster

              Summary Background An ongoing outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China. Affected patients were geographically linked with a local wet market as a potential source. No data on person-to-person or nosocomial transmission have been published to date. Methods In this study, we report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, radiological, and microbiological findings of five patients in a family cluster who presented with unexplained pneumonia after returning to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, after a visit to Wuhan, and an additional family member who did not travel to Wuhan. Phylogenetic analysis of genetic sequences from these patients were done. Findings From Jan 10, 2020, we enrolled a family of six patients who travelled to Wuhan from Shenzhen between Dec 29, 2019 and Jan 4, 2020. Of six family members who travelled to Wuhan, five were identified as infected with the novel coronavirus. Additionally, one family member, who did not travel to Wuhan, became infected with the virus after several days of contact with four of the family members. None of the family members had contacts with Wuhan markets or animals, although two had visited a Wuhan hospital. Five family members (aged 36–66 years) presented with fever, upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms, or diarrhoea, or a combination of these 3–6 days after exposure. They presented to our hospital (The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen) 6–10 days after symptom onset. They and one asymptomatic child (aged 10 years) had radiological ground-glass lung opacities. Older patients (aged >60 years) had more systemic symptoms, extensive radiological ground-glass lung changes, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, and increased C-reactive protein and lactate dehydrogenase levels. The nasopharyngeal or throat swabs of these six patients were negative for known respiratory microbes by point-of-care multiplex RT-PCR, but five patients (four adults and the child) were RT-PCR positive for genes encoding the internal RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and surface Spike protein of this novel coronavirus, which were confirmed by Sanger sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis of these five patients' RT-PCR amplicons and two full genomes by next-generation sequencing showed that this is a novel coronavirus, which is closest to the bat severe acute respiatory syndrome (SARS)-related coronaviruses found in Chinese horseshoe bats. Interpretation Our findings are consistent with person-to-person transmission of this novel coronavirus in hospital and family settings, and the reports of infected travellers in other geographical regions. Funding The Shaw Foundation Hong Kong, Michael Seak-Kan Tong, Respiratory Viral Research Foundation Limited, Hui Ming, Hui Hoy and Chow Sin Lan Charity Fund Limited, Marina Man-Wai Lee, the Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association South China Microbiology Research Fund, Sanming Project of Medicine (Shenzhen), and High Level-Hospital Program (Guangdong Health Commission).
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Acta Biomed
                Acta Biomed
                Acta Bio Medica : Atenei Parmensis
                Mattioli 1885 (Italy )
                0392-4203
                2531-6745
                2020
                19 March 2020
                : 91
                : 1
                : 157-160
                Affiliations
                Editors of Acta Biomedica
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Maurizio Vanelli E-mail: maurizio.vanelli@ 123456unipr.it
                Article
                ACTA-91-157
                10.23750/abm.v91i1.9397
                7569573
                32191675
                Copyright: © 2020 ACTA BIO MEDICA SOCIETY OF MEDICINE AND NATURAL SCIENCES OF PARMA

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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