Novel Coronavirus AlertA novel coronavirus has been identified in two patients, both previously healthy adults presenting with severe acute respiratory illness. The first patient, a 60-year-old male from Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was hospitalised in June and died. The second patient, a 49-year-old male Qatari national with onset of symptoms in September 2012 was transferred to the United Kingdom for intensive care. He remains hospitalized on life support.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which may cause respiratory infections in humans and animals. Such respiratory infections may range from mild upper respiratory tract illness to severe lower respiratory disease. Genetic sequence data indicate that this new virus is a betacoronavirus similar to bat coronaviruses, but not similar to any other coronavirus previously described in humans, including the coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.
Transmission of coronaviruses is mainly by large respiratory droplets and direct or indirect contact with infected respiratory tract secretions. To date only two laboratory confirmed cases have been reported globally and there is no evidence of
person-to-person or health care -associated transmission.
Clinical presentation and case management
Since this novel coronavirus has only been recently described, and only two laboratory-confirmed cases detected so far, there is limited information regarding the mode/s of transmission, clinical features, and severity of disease at this stage. The incubation period is currently considered to be up to 7 days. Symptoms in the two confirmed cases included fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
It is not yet clear whether these are typical presentations or whether the virus could cause milder illness. Treatment is supportive because no specific therapy has been shown to be effective.
Precautions and infection prevention and control considerations
At present, no vaccine is available for the novel coronavirus. However, travellers are encouraged to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza and to practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette in order to reduce the risk of infection with respiratory viruses.
People who are ill with respiratory symptoms are advised to stay at home whilst they are unwell and avoid contact with healthy people, as far as possible.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not issued any travel alerts. In addition, no screening at points of entry should be enforced. For persons planning to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to participate in the Hajj scheduled for October 24–29, 2012, requirements and recommendations remain unchanged and can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/features/Hajj Travel advice will be reviewed if additional cases occur.
More information on the novel coronavirus can be accessed at the following websites: