06 Feb Novel Coronavirus Outbreak: How We’re Responding to the Newly Identified Disease
The start of the decade brought with it a global outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus. The Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), first identified and reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019, now has over 28,000 confirmed cases and over 550 reported deaths worldwide as of February 6, 2020. Wuhan is a populated city, with over 11 million residents and a strong biotechnology footprint. The current measures to control the outbreak have contended with the Lunar New Year holiday (and the extension of the holiday to control movement), workforce disruptions, and the use of social media to disseminate information (and misinformation) about the outbreak.
The world is quickly realizing this outbreak is unlike previous responses. With misleading information circulating on dominant social media platforms and a rapidly spreading virus we are still learning about – there are a lot of uncertainties and the full extent of the social and economic impacts is not yet clear.
As this dynamic outbreak quickly unfolds, we continue to learn more about the virus each day. As an organization focused on the role of the healthcare supply chain in protecting patients during crisis, Healthcare Ready has remained activated for this event. The Healthcare Ready team is closely tracking response efforts and related impacts to healthcare and public health – including tracking global response and humanitarian assistance efforts, monitoring global supply chain operations, and supporting readiness of the US health system. Here’s a snapshot of our activities.
Global Response Effort
The containment of the outbreak is still the primary focus of the global health community as authorities race to combat the epidemic. Healthcare Ready is tracking the following:
- Determining the impacts of travel advisories including quarantine recommendations and trade restrictions on the stability and international flow of supplies.
- Examining how the decisions of the World Health Organization (WHO) and nation states can influence the global response, such as the WHO declaring the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), which underscores the need to coordinate an international response and may influence countries to restrict travel or trade to China.
We are coordinating with NGO partners, including Partnership for Quality Medical Donations (PQMD) and other NGO partners sending healthcare workers and supplies to China, to coordinate humanitarian support of the Chinese response.
As the situation unfolds, we are working to understand how to best coordinate the efforts and donations of the relief organizations supporting China in managing the outbreak to ensure crucial supplies are delivered where they’re most needed.
Supply Chain Operations And Coordination
In an effort to understand and help address industry concerns, Healthcare Ready is gathering information from supply chain operators about concerns and challenges.
- We are liaising with components of the supply chain to better understand the current demands of supplies including pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Healthcare Ready is closely tracking issues related to workforce, business continuity, and transportation and trade restrictions. Ensuring employee safety helps prevent disease transmission in the workplace and is essential to reducing supply chain disruptions.
Supporting Readiness Of The US Health System
There is recognition that the US health system must be ready to rapidly detect and respond to the virus should the outbreak spread domestically. Key issue areas the Healthcare Ready support team is monitoring related to US readiness and efforts include:
- Working with health systems to understand their concerns about the outbreak including supply needs and response capabilities.
- Amplifying provider guidance from the CDC including exposure risk mitigation strategies.
- Coordinating with federal partners to understand healthcare and public health impacts and tracking how public health agencies and coalitions are contributing to national surveillance.
There are many facets to this outbreak, and each component has implications for public health. Healthcare Ready will remain activated as we work to understand the implications of the 2019-nCoV outbreak and protect patient health.
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