Nations in the Western Pacific region continue to report COVID-19 transmission as of late February. Some variations in risk remain possible in sub-regions. Disease activity continues to fluctuate across the region; however, China and Japan continue to report a significant increase in disease incidence. Generally, access to health services is being managed appropriately with limited public health measures. Major disruptions to public health infrastructure have largely been contained in most countries. However, health facilities in China and Japan have been overburdened by the rise in COVID-19 incidence.
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through respiratory droplets from infected individuals or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms typically include fever, fatigue, and dry cough; less common symptoms include headache, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, reddening of the eyes, skin rash, or discoloration of the fingers or toes. Symptoms may worsen to difficulty breathing, pneumonia, and organ failure - especially in those with underlying, chronic medical conditions. Some infected individuals display no symptoms. Multiple variants of COVID-19 have been identified globally, some spreading more easily between people, like Omicron. COVID-19 vaccines are distributed across population groups, with evidence suggesting strong protective effects against COVID-19 variants.
Older individuals and people of any age with chronic medical conditions or compromised immunity should consider postponing nonessential travel, including domestic travel, and take special precautions to avoid becoming ill, especially where sustained community transmission of COVID-19 is ongoing. All individuals should monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning from travel.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions. Individuals that are feeling ill or displaying symptoms should refrain from public engagements and consider isolating were possible.
COVID-19 vaccinations can increase protection against severe infection and all individuals, especially those at higher risk, are encouraged to remain up to date with booster vaccines. Individuals should continue to abide by national health and safety measures provided by their regulatory bodies.
WHO coronavirus knowledge base
WHO: Public health considerations while resuming international travel
US CDC: Guidance for Businesses and Workplaces
US CDC: Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities
Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak
US CDC: Manage Anxiety and Stress
New England Journal of Medicine: COVID-19 FAQs