Friday, September 28, 2012

Coronavirus: WHO Update & Genome Sequence


Coronavirus – Credit CDC PHIL


# 6592


The World Health Organization has posted an update on the novel coronavirus situation, and indicate that no additional cases have been identified and the evidence to date suggests that this virus is not easily transmissible to humans.


Novel coronavirus infection - update

28 September 2012 - As of 28 September 2012, no additional confirmed cases due to infection with the novel coronavirus have been reported to WHO.


WHO is working closely with the national authorities of the involved countries (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom) and international partners in order to better understand the public health risk from the novel coronavirus.


From the information available thus far, it appears that the novel coronavirus cannot be easily transmitted from person-to-person.


Given the severity of the two laboratory confirmed cases, WHO is continuing to monitor the situation in order to provide the appropriate response, expertise and support to its Member States.


Rapid progress has been made in the characterization of the novel coronavirus, and in the development of sensitive and specific diagnostic assays. WHO is collaborating with partner laboratories to make these available as quickly as possible. It is anticipated that the first batch of reagents, together with information and testing algorithms, will be available for urgent testing within the coming days.


Tests for novel coronavirus infection of patients under investigation - based on the case definition issued by WHO – are currently available by some partner laboratories. National Health Authorities can contact these laboratories through WHO.


WHO continues to inform its Member States through the designated National Focal Points under the International Health Regulations (2005).


No travel or trade restrictions have been recommended by WHO for Saudi Arabia or Qatar with respect to the novel coronavirus infections.



Meanwhile, overnight the entire genome sequence for this betacoronavirus 2c was deposited at GenBank by a team from Erasmus University in the Netherlands headed by Ron Fouchier.


With only two known cases, roughly 2 months apart, the question now becomes what was the likely source of their infection?


The virus is similar to those previously detected in bats, but other animal hosts (intermediate or primary) are certainly possible.


For now, this novel coronavirus appears to pose more of a epidemiological enigma than a threat to public health.


While more is being learned about this new coronavirus everyday, our knowledge of this emerging pathogen is still very limited. And viruses can always change over time – so it is important that we not let down our guard. 


Stay tuned.

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