- Current ECDC Threat Assessment Brief emphasizes that while COVID-19 risk for the EU/EEA and the UK is low to moderate, risk for case clusters observed in Italy is high.
- At this writing, Italian authorities confirmed 200 cases, with 5 deaths.
Why this matters
- Case clusters highlight likelihood for rapid, local COVID-19 transmission without direct evidence for first-generation transmission.
- Experts recommend testing symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with recent travel to affected Italian municipalities and/or Wuhan as soon as possible.
- Consult WHO and ECDC guidance.
- Transmission appears to have occurred locally; Italian authorities are conducting confirmatory testing and extensive contact tracing.
- Strict public health measures, including travel bans, suspension of public events, institution closures, and quarantine and surveillance have been implemented.
- ECDC warns of the potential effect of similar case clusters in the EU/EEA and UK, especially for vulnerable elderly populations with comorbidities.
- Significantly strained health care and hospital resources are likely.
- A Lancet Respiratory Medicine observational study confirms:
- High mortality rates among critically ill patients with likely post-ICU admission survival of 1-2 weeks.
- Older patients with comorbidities and acute respiratory distress syndrome have increased mortality risk.