Public Health Alert on Coronavirus issued

A public health alert notice number 1 on the Coronavirus has been issued by the Director General of the Ministry of Social Services and the Health Department. 

The notice is to inform the public of the preparatory procedures already in place to monitor and respond to any suspected cases of the coronavirus. 

It also says that Cabinet approval is being sought on specific travel restrictions and the public will be advised accordingly. 

According to the statement On 31 December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia of unknown cause was reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. On 9 January 2020, Chinese authorities reported that the cause of this viral pneumonia was initially identified as a new type of coronavirus, which is different from any other human coronaviruses discovered so far.

Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The 2019-nCoV can be transmitted from person to person, however investigations are ongoing to understand more information about the virus.

Common signs and symptoms

● fever

● cough

● shortness of breath / breathing difficulties

The Health Department has been monitoring the progress of the 2019-nCoV outbreak, and has been receiving regular updates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the NZ Ministry of Health and other Health Ministries in the Pacific.

As of 9am Tuesday 28​th January, the WHO has not declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak in China a public health emergency of international concern. With the information currently available for the novel coronavirus, WHO advises that measures to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease should be implemented

Health Department Preparedness Activities

1) The Niue Department of Health (DOH) has a pandemic plan which covers infectious diseases. The Plan includes active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management and contact tracing and prevention of onward spread. The Plan is now in effective.

2) Isolation tents were ordered during the recent measles outbreak in the Pacific. These tents will be used should the need for isolation occur.

3) The appropriate laboratory for testing and transport pathway has also been identified and all necessary supplies for testing were replenished in preparation for measles, and they are still available.

4) The risk of nCoV will be treated like other infectious diseases and therefore a stocktake of Personal Protective Equipment has been undertaken.

5) Collaboration with key border control agencies will continue and training carried out as part of preparedness efforts.

6) Cabinet approval is being sought on specific travel restrictions and the public will be advised accordingly.

7) The Health Department will regularly provide Public Health notices on the 2019-nCoV and is the only source of official information on the matter.

At this time the public are requested to remain calm, stay alert for signs and symptoms, and continue practising good cough and hand hygiene to help protect themselves from getting a range of illnesses, including 2019-nCoV.

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