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Health Security

Coronaviruses: Outbreak Preparedness and Response, Infection Control, and Public Health Policy

A New Novel Coronavirus

In December 2019, astute clinicians in Wuhan, China, notified public health authorities of a cluster of asymptomatic pneumonia cases, some with ties to a seafood market in the city. Within days, additional cases were discovered, and a sophisticated epidemiologic investigation was launched. Within weeks, a novel coronavirus, now known as 2019-nCoV, was identified and sequenced, with the sequence published online for use by other scientists and public health authorities globally.

Although the full significance of this outbreak is not yet known, it calls to mind previous experiences with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), 2 coronaviruses responsible for significant morbidity and mortality. Fortunately, current known evidence suggests that this new virus is neither as severe nor as transmissible as SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV. However, the Health Security editorial staff see this outbreak as an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in the past 2 decades and on the work yet to be done.

Infectious disease surveillance systems have evolved dramatically from the emergence of SARS, when delays in recognizing the outbreak hampered the response effort. The International Health Regulations (2005), which provided for expanded surveillance, reporting, and capacity building, have facilitated communication of health threats. There have also been substantial advances in both basic science and public health capabilities in countries around the world. For instance, improved diagnostic technologies have enabled the rapid detection and identification of emerging infectious diseases. Infection control has also improved, with a number of countries having developed biocontainment units to improve the ability to safely treat patients with highly infectious diseases.

Nonetheless, this new novel coronavirus outbreak serves as a reminder to the global public health community that we must be relentless in our efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats. There is more that governments need to do to prepare for and respond to biological threats. Efforts to develop the capabilities to rapidly develop and manufacture new medical countermeasures are more important now than ever, given the speed with which pathogens can travel the globe. Healthcare systems should be strengthened to ensure they are robust enough to treat a large number of patients in an epidemic. And the global community must continue to support and strengthen the IHR to ensure that outbreaks are identified and stopped at their source.

The rapid detection and identification of the 2019-nCoV underscores how much progress has been made since the early days of SARS, but gaps remain. We have selected 10 relevant articles from Health Security on coronaviruses, outbreak preparedness and response, infection control, and public health policy; these articles will be freely available through the pandemic to facilitate the conversation around health security. We hope these pieces will serve as resources for the community as it works to ensure that the 2019-nCoV outbreak is fully understood and contained.

Editor-in-Chief: Thomas V. Inglesby, MD

Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

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CDC's Flu on Call Simulation: Testing a National Helpline for Use During an Influenza Pandemic

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Learning from New York City Health + Hospitals' Experience with COVID-19

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Isolation Hotels: A Community-Based Intervention to Mitigate the Spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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A Health Intelligence Framework for Pandemic Response: Lessons from the UK Experience of COVID-19

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Geoffrey Rose's Strategy of Prevention Applied to COVID-19

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Factors Associated with Psychological Distress and Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The COVID-19 Pandemic in Italy and the World: To Be or Not to Be? That Is the Real Problem

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Are Disinfectants for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 Safe?

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Picking Up the Pieces: Healthcare Quality in a Post-COVID-19 World

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A Social and Behavioral Research Agenda to Facilitate COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in the United States

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Fierce Advocates for Building All-Hazards Resurgence and Resilience: NYC Health + Hospitals' COVID-19 Experiences Applied

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COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and Export Controls

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Risk-Informed Decision Making: More Critical Today than Ever Before

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SARS and Its Implications for U.S. Public Health Policy: "We've Been Lucky"

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Preparedness at Japan's Hospitals Designated for Patients with Highly Infectious Diseases

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Perspectives on the Management of Children in a Biocontainment Unit: Report of the NETEC Pediatric Workgroup

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Risk and Outbreak Communication: Lessons from Taiwan's Experiences in the Post-SARS Era

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New York City's Communication Trials by Fire, from West Nile to SARS

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Taiwan's Experience in Hospital Preparedness and Response for Emerging Infectious Diseases

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Economic Impact of the 2015 MERS Outbreak on the Republic of Korea's Tourism-Related Industries

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Factors Influencing Compliance with Quarantine in Toronto During the 2003 SARS Outbreak

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Acting on the Lessons of SARS: What Remains To Be Done?

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Advancing Preparedness for Highly Hazardous Contagious Diseases: Admitting 10 Simulated Patients with MERS-CoV


Download Free Articles

Download Icon

CDC's Flu on Call Simulation: Testing a National Helpline for Use During an Influenza Pandemic

Download Icon

Learning from New York City Health + Hospitals' Experience with COVID-19

Download Icon

Isolation Hotels: A Community-Based Intervention to Mitigate the Spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Download Icon

A Health Intelligence Framework for Pandemic Response: Lessons from the UK Experience of COVID-19

Download Icon

Geoffrey Rose's Strategy of Prevention Applied to COVID-19

Download Icon

Factors Associated with Psychological Distress and Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Download Icon

The COVID-19 Pandemic in Italy and the World: To Be or Not to Be? That Is the Real Problem

Download Icon

Are Disinfectants for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 Safe?

Download Icon

Picking Up the Pieces: Healthcare Quality in a Post-COVID-19 World

Download Icon

A Social and Behavioral Research Agenda to Facilitate COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in the United States

Download Icon

Fierce Advocates for Building All-Hazards Resurgence and Resilience: NYC Health + Hospitals' COVID-19 Experiences Applied

Download Icon

COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and Export Controls

Download Icon

Risk-Informed Decision Making: More Critical Today than Ever Before

Download Icon

SARS and Its Implications for U.S. Public Health Policy: "We've Been Lucky"

Download Icon

Preparedness at Japan's Hospitals Designated for Patients with Highly Infectious Diseases

Download Icon

Perspectives on the Management of Children in a Biocontainment Unit: Report of the NETEC Pediatric Workgroup

Download Icon

Risk and Outbreak Communication: Lessons from Taiwan's Experiences in the Post-SARS Era

Download Icon

New York City's Communication Trials by Fire, from West Nile to SARS

Download Icon

Taiwan's Experience in Hospital Preparedness and Response for Emerging Infectious Diseases

Download Icon

Economic Impact of the 2015 MERS Outbreak on the Republic of Korea's Tourism-Related Industries

Download Icon

Factors Influencing Compliance with Quarantine in Toronto During the 2003 SARS Outbreak

Download Icon

Acting on the Lessons of SARS: What Remains To Be Done?

Download Icon

Advancing Preparedness for Highly Hazardous Contagious Diseases: Admitting 10 Simulated Patients with MERS-CoV