Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) epidemiologists and infectious disease experts are following the fast-evolving development of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As of January 30, there are more than 7,900 cases, more than 98 percent of which are in mainland China.
We have offered support to health authorities in mainland China and Hong Kong, who are leading the respective response efforts, and offering support similar to what we did in 2003 during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndome (SARS), caused by a related type of coronavirus. These activities included training of health care staff on methods to prevent and control infections and health education for vulnerable and at-risk groups.
An MSF team is being deployed to Hong Kong with an initial focus on health education for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and other at-risk people.
Because the 2019-nCoV virus is new, much remains to be understood about it. However, as with other coronaviruses, droplet infection seems to be the main mode of transmission, so infection control measures such as handwashing and cough etiquette (covering coughs with disposable tissues or clothing) remain very important for prevention.