Coronaviruses (CoV) are of zoonotic origin, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.
The novel (new) Coronavirus (now named COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The index cases detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China on 31 December 2019. Early on, many of the patients in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Chinese officials and other countries reported that sustained person-to-person spread in the community is occurring.
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)”. This decision was made mainly to prevent spread of the virus in countries with weakest health systems so that all countries could be prepared for active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and mitigation of onward spread of COVID-19 infection.
On 6 February 2020 UN Development Coordination Office (UNDCO) hosted a call with WHO to brief all Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) to provide updates on the COVID‑19 epidemiological situation and introduce the COVID‑19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP).
By 11 March 2020, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled affecting 118 countries, areas and territories globally. On the same day, the World Health Organization announced that the outbreak of COVID-19 “can be characterized a pandemic”.
As of 15 March 2020, a total of 153,517 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 5,735 associated deaths were reported globally. On 13 March 2020, Sudan reported the first fatal case of COVID-19 with travel history to UAE. Daily COVID-19 updates can be followed on WHO official website at this link.