ECDC assessment of the COVID-19 situation in Europe as of 2 March 2020

News

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention ECDC today publishes a rapid risk assessment on the novel coronavirus situation in Europe.

Sick woman sneezing

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention ECDC today publishes a rapid risk assessment on the novel coronavirus situation in Europe.

The risk of widespread sustained transmission of COVID-19 in EU/EEA and UK in the coming weeks is moderate to high, with more countries expected to report more cases and clusters. This assessment is based on the following factors:

  • There is an increasing number of countries with widespread community transmission around the world and in Europe, and these are exporting cases with subsequent transmission to previously unaffected areas. Up to now, the control measures have been able to only slow, but not stop further spread;
  • Cases with mild symptoms are numerous and able to transmit the infection. Cases with mild symptoms are not always aware of their potential infectivity, and some people with mild symptoms have sought medical care, thereby infecting health care workers;
  • Previously unaffected areas are reporting cases with no history of travel to countries or areas where there is known community transmission.

What is new in this risk assessment?

  • Updated epidemiological data;
  • Description of cases and transmission reported in the EU/EEA and the UK;
  • Findings on disease and transmissibility;
  • Risk to the healthcare systems in the EU/EEA and the UK;
  • Risk to citizens from the EU/EEA and UK travelling or living in areas with presumed community transmission;
  • Risk of widespread and sustained transmission in the EU/EEA and UK in the coming weeks;
  • Options for preparedness and response; including a proposed change in case definition.

In the event of established and widespread community transmission, current containment measures may no longer be an efficient use of resources. If this occurs, action should be taken to prepare for a mitigation strategy that includes co-ordinated efforts to protect the health of EU/EEA and UK citizens by decreasing the burden on healthcare systems and protecting populations at risk of severe disease.

A significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks would have a high impact on public health and on healthcare systems. Increasing numbers of imported cases and local transmission chains would require additional resources for case management, surveillance, and contact tracing.

Risk communication to the public and to healthcare professionals would tie up further resources. Further increased transmission could result in a significant increase of hospital admissions at a time when healthcare systems may already be under pressure from the current influenza season. This situation would be further exacerbated if substantial numbers of healthcare workers became infected. Bottlenecks may also emerge in terms of diagnostic capacity. Containment measures intended to slow down the spread of the virus in the population are therefore extremely important.

Epidemiological data as of 2 March 2020

Total number of reported cases: 89,068 globally (2,199 in the EU/EEA, UK, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland)

Total number of deaths: 3,046 globally (38 in the EU/EEA, UK, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland)

For detailed epidemiological information

Publication

Rapid risk assessment: Outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): increased transmission globally – fifth update

Risk assessment -

As of 2 March, 66 countries have reported cases of novel coronavirus disease 2019. The risk associated with COVID-19 infection for people in the EU/EEA and UK is currently considered to be moderate to high, based on the probability of transmission and the impact of the disease.