Dr. Daniel Lucey, who has responded to, and monitored information on outbreaks since 2001, has provided a series of updates and analysis on the outbreak, now an epidemic of 2019-nCoV, the novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan China, since Jan. 7. He continues to respond to and break down developments and data on the outbreak here. He writes this 12th update on Covid-19 from Hong Kong
February 14, 2020 is a day that will always be remembered by healthcare workers around the world, as well as current epidemic planners and responders, as well as historians of this worsening pan-epidemic of COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2.
Today is Feb. 14, 2020 and China has just reported that 1,716 health workers have been infected with “SARS-CoV-2”, and thus have “COVID-19.”
Reports of this staggering number of HCW infections, citing the official China National Health Commission, appeared today in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP), The New York Times and elsewhere.
In the SCMP article titled “Chinese medical staff paying ‘too high a price’ in battle to curb coronavirus” it is reported that in Hubei province there are 1,502 infected medical workers, of whom 1,102 are in the capital of Wuhan. During the SARS epidemic in 2003 there were a total of 1,002 infected health care workers in all of Mainland China reported to WHO.
On the morning of February 12 (local time in HK about 12 hours ago), the SCMP reported on page A4 of the print copy an article titled: “Military sends more medical staff to reinforce operations in Wuhan: Xi orders deployment of another 2600 specialists, with total now at 6600—far outstripping PLA response to SARS in 2003.”
To the best of my knowledge, there are zero health care workers in Hong Kong currently diagnosed with COVID-19 due to “SARS-CoV-2,” and 56 confirmed patients including some locally infected. In contrast, in 2003 there were 386 health care workers infected with SARS-CoV in Hong Kong.
Worldwide, during SARS 2002-2003 there were 1,701 infected healthcare workers according to the WHO in their 2006 book titled SARS: How a Global Epidemic Was Stopped (see Table 20.2 on p. 191. Other places reporting SARS infections in healthcare workers included Canada (109), Singapore (97), Taiwan (68), Vietnam (36) and the Philippines (3).
Thus, today’s report of 1,716 healthcare workers in China infected with the SARS-CoV-2 already exceeds the global total of healthcare workers infected during SARS 2002-2003.
The implications for China and other nations around the world preparing for, and responding to, this growing pan-epidemic are staggering e.g.,
- PPE availability and sustainability
- “Just-in-time” training
- The acute need for mass production of PPE
- Impact on the morale and family concerns for healthcare workers
- Duty-to-Serve and Ethical considerations for healthcare workers
- Crisis standards of care immediate planning,
- All-of-Society considerations including economic and political factors.
Daniel R. Lucey MD, MPH FIDSA Hong Kong, 14 Feb. 2020
Dr. Daniel Lucey is an infectious diseases physician and adjunct professor of infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center, a senior scholar at the Georgetown University O’Neil Institute, Anthropology Research Associate, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America Global Health Committee.He has served as a volunteer medical responder to outbreaks that included the West Africa Ebola crisis. He has collected information on outbreaks starting in 2001 with cases of anthrax in 2001, and including smallpox vaccination 2002, SARS 2003, H5N1 Flu 2004, MERS in 2013, and Ebola in April, 2014, He has gathered, and is updating information on the current outbreak of pneumonia first reported in Wuhan City in the Hubei province of China.
Featured image photo credit: NIAID-RML