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News: Coronavirus Update

17 February 2020

“It is impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take” said WHO Director-General about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in his speech to the Munich Security Conference on the 15.02.2020.  

By 16.02.2020 the number of confirmed cases had reached 51,857 across 26 countries. Over the last two days, the proportion of confirmed cases of severely diseased people in China fell to 21.6% from 32.4% on 27.01.2020. At the moment, cruise ships seem to be the epicentre of fears for the spread of the virus outside China.

With regard to the quarantined cruise ship “Diamond Princess”, on the 16.02.2020 the Japanese Authorities announced that the number of new cases on board the ship has increased from 70 to 355. The US government organised repatriation of the American passengers who will likely face a further two weeks of quarantine once home.  

One passenger tested positive in Malaysia after her departure from the “Westerdam”. The relevant cruise line is now trying to contact other passengers to arrange precautionary testing.  

Egypt reported to WHO its first confirmed case of COVID-19, rendering it the second country within the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region to do so, following the United Arab Emirates with eight cases. Even though most of the cases are either fully recovered or asymptomatic and under control, the countries in the Region are expected to enhance measures for the detection and prompt response to potential COVID-19 cases.

Given the serious and fluid nature of this emergency, we would advise members to monitor any updates from the WHO as well as the port authorities/governments of ports they intend to call.