Current risk assessment on the novel coronavirus situation, 17 February 2020

Risk assessment

What is the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for the EU/EEA and UK population?

The risk associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection for people from the EU/EEA and UK is currently considered to be low.

This assessment is based on the following factors:

  • Since all cases reported in the EU/EEA have clearly established epidemiological links, the probability of transmission in the EU/EEA and the UK is considered to be very low.
  • However, the impact of one or more infections resulting in sustained transmission in the EU/EEA would be moderate to high, especially for elderly populations with comorbidities, given that the reported case severity is high among these groups.

What is the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for the EU/EEA and UK population travelling/resident in areas with presumed ongoing community transmission?

The risk for people from the EU/EEA and UK travelling/resident in areas with presumed community transmission is currently high.

This assessment is based on the following factors:

  • The probability of infection for those travelling/resident in areas where ongoing sustained community transmission is considered moderate to high. The overall number of reported cases in areas with community transmission is high or increasing sharply. However, there are significant uncertainties regarding transmissibility and under-detection, particularly among mild or asymptomatic cases.
  • For travellers/residents, the impact of one or more infections is considered high, especially for elderly populations with comorbidities, given that the reported case severity is high among these groups. The impact will also depend on the capacity and availability of healthcare during the epidemic.

What is the risk for healthcare systems capacity in the EU/EEA and the UK during the peak of the flu season? 

The risk for healthcare systems capacity in the EU/EEA and the UK is low to moderate

This assessment is based on the following factors:

  • As the number of reported cases in the EU/EEA and the UK remains low, the probability of widespread SARS-CoV-2 infection remains low during the peak of the 2019–2020 influenza season. 

  • If there was a significant increase in COVID-19 cases during the peak of the influenza season, the potential impact on healthcare systems would be moderate to high. Increasing numbers of cases would require additional resources for case management, surveillance, and contact tracing. Increased transmission could result in further pressure on healthcare systems, exacerbated if substantial numbers of healthcare workers became infected.

Previous risk assessments

Publication

Risk assessment: Outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): increased transmission beyond China – fourth update

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Risk assessment: Outbreak of acute respiratory syndrome associated with a novel coronavirus, China: first local transmission in the EU/EEA − third update

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Publication

Risk assessment: outbreak of acute respiratory syndrome associated with a novel coronavirus, China; First cases imported in the EU/EEA; second update

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Publication

Risk assessment: Outbreak of acute respiratory syndrome associated with a novel coronavirus, Wuhan, China; first update

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Publication

Rapid Risk Assessment: Cluster of pneumonia cases caused by a novel coronavirus, Wuhan, China, 2020

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Advice to healthcare workers: management of patients with 2019-nCoV infection

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Sources of updated information on COVID-19 in the EU/EEA and the UK

Case definition and European surveillance for human infection with novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)

Event background COVID-19