Unknowns About Coronavirus Transmission Complicate Decisions On Control Efforts, Experts Say

AP: Unknowns of the new virus make global quarantines a struggle
“Health authorities are scrambling to halt the spread of a new virus that has killed hundreds in China, restricting visitors from the country and confining thousands on cruise ships for extensive screening after some passengers tested positive. But with important details about the illness and how it spreads still unknown, officials and medical personnel are struggling…” (Tong-Hyung, 2/5).

BBC: Coronavirus: Window of opportunity to act, World Health Organization says
“The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is a ‘window of opportunity’ to stop the deadly new coronavirus becoming a broader global crisis. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the steps China took to fight the virus at its epicenter were a good way of stopping its spread. The praise comes as Chinese officials have been widely criticized for their initial handling of the outbreak…” (2/5).

New York Times: Even Without Symptoms, Wuhan Coronavirus May Spread, Experts Fear
“…Doctors in China claimed asymptomatic transmission was possible, and a letter published Jan. 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine appeared to back them up. … But now health officials in Germany have raised doubts about the accuracy of that report. … Whatever the inaccuracies in the journal report, many experts remain concerned about the potential for coronavirus to be spread by asymptomatic individuals, in large part because of anecdotal information received from their colleagues in China…” (Rabin, 2/4).

POLITICO: Coronavirus quarantine, travel ban could backfire, experts fear
“The Trump administration’s quarantine and travel ban in response to the Wuhan coronavirus could undercut international efforts to fight the outbreak by antagonizing Chinese leaders, as well as stigmatizing people of Asian descent, according to a growing chorus of public health experts and lawmakers. The World Health Organization’s top official on Tuesday repeated concern that moves that interfere with transportation and trade could harm efforts to address the crisis, though he didn’t directly name the United States…” (Ollstein, 2/4).

Washington Post: Key evidence for coronavirus spread is flawed as public health decisions loom
“…The essential question public health experts are grappling with is how easily the virus spreads, particularly from people who have mild symptoms. And despite the error in the report from Germany, it’s still possible that people can spread it before they have symptoms. Public health measures that depend on isolating people who could transmit the virus could become difficult to implement if the virus spreads before people realize they have been infected…” (Johnson/Sun, 2/4).

Additional coverage of detection, diagnosis, transmission, and control strategies of the novel coronavirus is available from CNBC, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Reuters (2), Science, and STAT.

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KFF | twitter.com/kff

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.