The 2019-nCoV coronavirus (now named COVID-19), has infected 69,092 people worldwide, including 1,716 healthcare workers in China. Of those HCW infected, 6 have died, according to Chinese health officials.
“At present, the duties of medical workers at the front are indeed extremely heavy; their working and resting circumstances are limited, the psychological pressures are great, and the risk of infection is high,” National Health Commission Vice Minister Zeng Yixin told Reuters, which reported a shortage of protective medical equipment for HCW in China.
The World Health Organization said last week that a public furor over the virus has triggered a shortage of personal protective equipment for medical workers, as demand for is 100 times higher than normal and prices have skyrocketed to 20 times usual rates, StatNews reported.
The United States confirmed its 15th case of COVID-19 on Thursday, the first case in Texas. The unidentified patient was another American evacuee from Wuhan, China and was under mandatory quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, according the CNN.com. The CDC described the patient as a “solo traveler,” now hospitalized and in isolation.
The 15th case was announced one day after the 14th case was confirmed in an evacuee under quarantine in California. Patient 14 was the second person diagnosed with COVID-19 on the same California military base near San Diego, but the CDC cautioned there was no evidence of person-to-person transmission there, yet.
“At this time there is no indication of person-to-person spread of this virus at the quarantine facility, but CDC will carry out a thorough contact investigation as part of its current response strategy to detect and contain any cases of infection with this virus,” the CDC said in a Feb 12 statement.
On Saturday, Reuters reported Europe’s first coronavirus-related death when an 80-year-old tourist from China died in France due to a lung infection.
The death is only the fourth outside of mainland China, including one in Hong Kong, one in the Philippines, and one in Japan. The global death toll is now 1,666, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Meanwhile, the first confirmed infection on the African continent took place in Egypt on Friday. The infected traveler was a “foreigner” now in isolation, according to Egyptian health officials and reported by Al Jazeera.
The virus has now touched down on all continents except South America.
The WHO has specifically stated its fear of outbreaks in ill-equipped healthcare systems, like those in the majority of Africa, where several nations are already battling other infectious disease outbreaks, such as Ebola, measles, and HIV-AIDS.
“We all know how fragile health systems [are] in the African continent, they are already overwhelmed by many outbreaks. For us, it is critical to detect coronavirus earlier [so] that we can prevent spreading within communities that can trigger a number of cases that can overwhelm the treatment capacity”, Michel Yao, WHO Africa program manager for emergency operations, told The Lancet.
According to an article in The Lancet, the WHO has prioritized preparedness and response to protect states with weaker health systems in 13 countries on the basis of their close transport links with China: Algeria, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.