Further investigations are needed to fully understand the novel coronavirus and the public health implications. However, based on the available information, ECDC assesses the current risk as low.
In their statement they also point out that this novel coronavirus is `not genetically similar to the SARS coronavirus’ and `There is no evidence of person to person transmission’.
25 Sep 2012
European, international and national public health authorities have been working closely together since the identification of two cases with a novel coronavirus became known. One case has died in Saudi Arabia and the second is in intensive care in a London hospital.
This newly identified coronavirus is not genetically similar to the SARS coronavirus and does not signal the start of a new SARS outbreak. There is no evidence of person to person transmission, which was the case with SARS, and the symptom presentation is also different. Coronaviruses can cause quite mild symptoms, similar to the common cold, or more severe disease as witnessed by the 2003 international SARS outbreak.
Further investigations are needed to fully understand the novel coronavirus and the public health implications. However, based on the available information, ECDC assesses the current risk as low. The only way we can build a proper understanding of the virus is through coordinated international surveillance and laboratory testing. The value of laboratories has been demonstrated by the excellent work done by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) laboratories in the UK and the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
There are in place plans and procedures in all public health authorities and international organisations for managing events where there is a little- or un-known disease or virus. These range from sharing the genome of the virus between countries to ensure rapid laboratory identification to regular conference calls of public health officials. This is, in part, due to the legacy of the 2003 international SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak. We now have better surveillance systems and a network of expert laboratories on imported viral diseases.