Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as a public health emergency of international concern.  

While there is currently no known infection of staff and other personnel actively deployed, the situation is being closely monitored and issues and options are being developed to both maintain the safety and protection of personnel and mitigate any impact on operations where possible.  

Precautions and prevention is a priority in supporting preparedness and response efforts. The source of the virus is not yet known but is suspected to have jumped from animals. The signs and symptoms of the patients as reported are mainly fever, with a few having difficulty in breathing, and a chest x-ray showing pneumonia. more evaluation is on-going to better understand the mode of transmission and the clinical manifestation of this new virus.

For any UN personnel who are free of symptoms, and returning from China, managers are encouraged to exercise flexibility in terms of using remote working arrangements for staff in these situations who would like to limit their contact with others and work from home for 14 days post travel.

It is recommended that all personnel evaluate the criticality of their travel and avoid any non-essential travel to China until the situation eases.  If you must travel to China or another area known to be affected: 

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Discuss travel to China with your healthcare provider. Elderly adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease.
  • Avoid contact with animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.

Joint Medical Service recommends that any individual who has traveled from China in the last 14 days and feels sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should be advised to:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Call ahead and share information about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Avoid contact with others, including public places, commuter transport, and the workplace.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Please see the Post Deployment Checklist here

All personnel and their families that travel should note that they may be subjected to travel restrictions and health screening measures implemented by local authorities for travelers entering or exiting the country.

All UN personnel who are planning to travel should check with the destination countries’ embassy, consulate or Ministry of Health and keep up to date with local health advice before and during your travel.

As the outbreak evolves, it can be difficult to predict the situation globally and it would be prudent to make contingency arrangements should the need arise.  Anyone with concerns should not hesitate to contact their usual health provider or local UN medical clinic.

UNON Covid-19 Contingency Plan 

For more information visit

See the list of Frequently Asked Questions here 

Read the UNMD Covid-19 risk mitigation guidance for UN personnel 

    See a presentation on the Covid-19 coronavirus here and a Pandemic Preparedness Checklist here