Update on 2019-nCoV: part 6 (winging its way around the world)?

I am interested, selfishly, in understanding the risk to Europe presented by the novel coronavirus (which now has a “working” name: 2019-nCoV; catchy isn’t it?!). It seems likely that there will be more imported cases, and possibly also some limited cross-transmission in Europe over the coming weeks.

As of yesterday, WHO reported 4537 confirmed cases, with 56 in 14 countries outside of China. There have been four confirmed cases in Europe (three in France and one in Germany). ECDC did a risk assessment from a European perspective published on 22/1 (now ancient history in the context of this rapidly developing picture). However, the risk assessment contained some interesting information on flight paths out of Wuhan. The top 5 destinations from Wuhan were Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea; there were also several direct flights each week to London, Paris, and Rome in Europe (see Figure). Whilst this is all somewhat immaterial now, since I don’t think many flights are coming out of Wuhan now, these flight paths are still important because they may help us understand the risk of spread over the coming weeks.

Figure: Direct flight paths out of Wuhan City, China (from http://www.flightconnections.com).

wuhan flights

So what is the risk to Europe? The ECDC risk assessment concluded that there is a moderate likelihood of detecting cases imported into European countries, with a lower risk of subsequent person-to-person spread.

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