What is the Wuhan Coronavirus?
On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China - which is approximately 1000 km and across the Taiwan Strait from Taoyuan. The virus did not match any other known virus. This raised concern because when a virus is new, we do not know how it affects people.
One week later, on 7 January, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus is a coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. This new virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”
WHO has been working with Chinese authorities and global experts from the day we were informed, to learn more about the virus, how it affects the people who are sick with it, how they can be treated, and what countries can do to respond.
Is traveling to Taiwan safe?
As of now, there have been no travel restrictions on traveling to Taiwan. On January 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated travel guidance for China, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all of the country. Taiwan is not included in this advisory. Source
Taiwan Department of Health Commissioner Huang Shier-chieg spoke to the media on Tuesday, January 28. He said that this time around, following the experience of the 2003 SARS outbreak, it has become easier to manage the situation, and that people in general were more experienced in knowing how to react to and control such viruses. He went on to say that at present coronavirus cases in Taiwan are few and far between, and that since both medical staff and the public are more aware of the risks and know what kind of precautions to take, Taiwan is more likely to pull through relatively unscathed. Source
As of January 29, Chinese authorities have effectively sealed off Wuhan, state media said, in a move was meant to "resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spreading" and protect lives, the central city's special command centre against the virus said. Airports around the world have introduced screening measures and some countries are working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan and the Hubei province. Source
"At the moment, our Taiwan hosts have not sent us alarm signals and our ICF Taiwan folks have only advised that people take the regular precautions one takes during the flu season," said ICF Co-Founder Lou Zacharilla, pictured right. "Taiwan, like South Korea and Japan has become extremely adept at confining flu outbreaks and do it rapidly and more transparently than most nations. If there was a serious issue in Taiwan we would have heard about it. To our knowledge and as reported today in the Taiwan international news agency there has been only one death related to the coronavirus. We at ICF will be communicating information on our website and social media as we get it from our Taoyuan colleagues."
Last updated: January 29. Additional updates will be posted here.