Further case of novel coronavirus detected

The United Kingdom has informed WHO of a confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (nCoV). The new case is in a United Kingdom resident who developed symptoms of illness on 26 January 2013. A preliminary investigation revealed that the patient had a history of travel to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Laboratory investigations of respiratory specimens have revealed infection with both influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and nCoV. The patient is hospitalized in intensive care in the United Kingdom.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) of the United Kingdom has instituted stringent infection control measures around the patient and identified contacts who may have been exposed to him during his illness. Further investigation into the case is ongoing.

WHO recommendations

This sporadic case does not alter the current WHO risk assessment on nCoV, but itindicates that the virus is persistent. As of 11 February 2013, a total of 10 confirmed cases of human infection with nCoVhave been notified to WHO.

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event, and does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

For further recommendations, refer to the WHO headquarters novel coronavirus update.

Background

Coronaviruses are a large family of RNA viruses capable of infecting human beings and some animal species. In humans, coronaviruses may cause a range of illnesses, from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

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 Qatar and Saudi Arabia . Upon further investigation, a total of 9 cases, 5 of which were fatal, were identified that had taken place since April 2012 in Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

This particular strain of coronavirus had not been previously identified in humans and the characterization of the full genome sequence of the virus indicates that it belongs to a novel species of coronavirus in the genus Betacoronavirus that is distinct from other known coronaviruses and SARS.

WHO response

Following the first confirmation of nCoV, WHO – under the International Health Regulations – immediately alerted all its Member States and has led the coordination of and provided guidance to health authorities and technical health agencies. WHO is also identifying a network of laboratories that can provide expertise on coronaviruses for countries.

WHO will continue monitoring the situation and working with partners to ensure a high degree of preparedness, should the new virus be found to be sufficiently transmissible to cause community outbreaks.