Novel coronavirus infection in the United Kingdom

On 22 September 2012, the United Kingdom informed WHO of a case of acute respiratory syndrome with renal failure in a person with travel history to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The case is in a previously healthy, 49-year-old male Qatari national that presented with symptoms on 3 September 2012; he had travelled to Saudi Arabia prior to the onset of illness. On 7 September, he was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar. On 11 September, he was transferred from Qatar to the United Kingdom by air ambulance. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) of the United Kingdom conducted laboratory tests and has confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus.

HPA has compared the sequencing of the virus isolate from the 49-year-old Qatari national with that of a virus previously sequenced by the Erasmus Medical Centre, the Netherlands. The latter was obtained from lung tissue of a fatal case in a 60-year-old Saudi national earlier this year. This comparison indicated 99.5% identity, with one nucleotide mismatch over the regions compared.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, including those that cause the common cold and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Given that this is a novel coronavirus, WHO is seeking further information to determine the public health implications of the two confirmed cases.

WHO does not recommend any travel restrictions as a result of these findings.