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Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

With increasing numbers of confirmed cases of this new coronavirus virus both in China as well as other nearby countries, and the World Health Organisation convening a meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), we invited experts into the SMC to answer journalists questions about:

  • What do we currently know about this new virus and where it came from? How does it compare to previous coronavirus outbreaks like SARS?
  • Can we model what this outbreak is likely to look like in the future and which countries are at risk? How accurate are these predictions?
  • Why and when would a country introduce airport screening? How effective is this strategy?
  • What else can countries do to limit spread of the virus?
  • What does it mean if the WHO declares this outbreak a PHEIC on Wednesday? How does that change the global response?


Speakers included:

Prof Neil Ferguson, Director, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Imperial College London

Prof Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Centre of Tropical Medicine and Global Health, University of Oxford

Dr Josie Golding, Epidemics Lead at Wellcome

Prof David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) (dial in)


An SMC Rapid Reaction accompanied this briefing.

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