Dental world reacts to coronavirus outbreak
LEIPZIG, Germany: Over the past month, one topic has dominated the international news cycle above all else—the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. As of 10 February 2020, more than 40,620 cases of the virus have been confirmed and 910 deaths have resulted from it. In response, many dental associations and organisations have released advice on what dental professionals can do to help limit the transmission of the virus.
This particular coronavirus was identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, one of the largest cities in China, where it is believed to have first been contracted at a live animal and seafood market. A ban on travel both to and from Wuhan was implemented on 23 January 2020, though a multitude of countries have evacuated their respective citizens from the area since its implementation. In addition, the World Health Organization declared it to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), owing to the severity of the outbreak.
Spread through air droplets expelled when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, the Wuhan coronavirus is considered to be highly infectious, and the number of confirmed cases has risen each day since its identification. “It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” Dr Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, told the New York Times.
Since the outbreak, numerous national health bodies have released guidance for dental and medical professionals relating to the Wuhan coronavirus. For example, Public Health England has set up a webpage that, among other guidance, recommends isolating and not physically examining any patients who are reasonably suspected of having contracted the virus, and the Australian Dental Association has strongly endorsed the use of thorough infection control and hygiene measures in dental practices.
Meanwhile, the organising team responsible for the International Dental Exhibition and Meeting (IDEM) has reassured attendees and exhibitors that the event is still scheduled to take place in Singapore from 24 to 26 April 2020. “We continue to closely monitor developments pertaining to the Novel Coronavirus and will put in place precautionary measures at IDEM,” the IDEM organisers wrote in an email.
“Should a pandemic situation arise, we may reassess our position on continuing to host IDEM, and keep you promptly informed of any updates,” they continued.
FDI World Dental Federation (FDI), which is set to host its annual World Dental Congress in Shanghai in China this coming September, also released an update regarding its plans. “The safety and security of all those taking part in FDI’s World Dental Congress is always our primary concern,” FDI stated.
“We continue to monitor developments in China and are in close contact with our local partners to assess the situation daily. Currently, the congress is scheduled to take place as planned as we anticipate the situation will be under control by this time,” it continued.
The effects of the Wuhan coronavirus are also being felt by some of the dental industry’s biggest companies. As reported by Dental Tribune International, the clear aligner manufacturer Align announced in a recent conference call that it expects to sell between 20,000 and 25,000 fewer Invisalign cases in China in the first quarter of 2020, owing to the outbreak of the virus. Further costs associated with the idling of manufacturing capacities in Align’s Chinese plants are expected to be around US$3 million to $4 million.