The Ministry of Health has announced that whilst there is little risk of coronavirus for Luxembourg, it is preparing for all possibilities in accordance with international and European recommendations.
This announcement follows the meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee earlier this week to determine whether the current coronavirus epidemic in China constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern" (PHEIC) under the International Health Regulations.
From 31 December to 22 January 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has recorded 603 confirmed cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection, including seventeen deaths in the city of Wuhan, China. Two provinces in mainland China as well as Taiwan and Macao have reported cases and Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States have reported one or more imported cases.
Luxembourg’s Ministry of Health recalled that the situation is being constantly monitored by the WHO and the ECDC, which decreed a public health emergency level 1 (PHE1) on Wednesday evening. This corresponds to the first level of alert allowing to mobilise more internal staff to monitor the situation. All surveillance and control measures are coordinated at the European level between countries by the Health Security Committee, which is located in Luxembourg.
The ministry has also assured that the estimated likelihood of cases also occurring in Luxembourg following travel is low. It added that there are currently no direct connections between Luxembourg and Wuhan, although the import of individual cases cannot be excluded. Consequently, in the presence of patients with symptoms of infection that may be related to the coronavirus (fever, cough, breathing difficulties), the Health Directorate has recommended that medical professionals inquire about the patients’ travel history in the region concerned during the two last weeks. Any suspicious case must be reported immediately to the Directorate. People from affected areas with symptoms of coronavirus infection should be isolated in an appropriate hospital until the hospital can be excluded. In Luxembourg, specially equipped rooms at the National Service for Infectious Diseases of the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg are available for the adequate isolation of patients.
In addition, the National Health Laboratory (LNS) is currently developing its capacity to carry out tests to identify the 2019-nCoV. At the same time, the laboratory has an agreement with the Charité university hospital in Berlin which can test samples from the LNS. The Charité laboratory appears as a reference laboratory in the list drawn up by the ECDC.
The Ministry of Health has also issued recommendations for travellers, recalling that access to and from the metropolis of Wuhan has been blocked off. Several airports in Asia, the Pacific Rim, the UK, Nigeria and Italy have also set up body temperature controls. These airports have direct air links to the Wuhan area.
Travellers wishing to go to China and especially in the Wuhan region are advised to cancel any trip that is not necessary and/or if they suffer from a respiratory disease. During a stay in the region, travellers are advised to comply with local recommendations, avoid contact with live or dead animals and with people who have a fever and cough and to wash their hands regularly with soap or hydroalcoholic solutions.
In the case of symptoms of respiratory infection (fever, cough, breathing difficulties) during the stay, travellers are advised to consult a doctor quickly, wear a surgical mask if in contact with other people, use disposable tissues and wash hands regularly.
Similarly, in the case of symptoms upon return to Luxembourg or in the fortnight thereafter, the individuals in question are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, or to wear a surgical mask if in contact with other people, use disposable tissues and wash their hands regularly. To avoid transmission to other people, those concerned should not go to their doctor or the emergency room. To contact the Health Directorate, tel.: 247-85650 or 112 outside office hours. They will direct the concerned individuals to the appropriate medical service.
For more information, visit: https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/pneumonia-in-wuhan-china.