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26 Mar 2013

Novel Coronavirus - Multistate - Severe respiratory syndrome (ECDC/CDTR, March 26 2013, edited)

[Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), full PDF document: (LINK). Edited.]


Week 12, 17-23 March 2013



Novel Coronavirus - Multistate - Severe respiratory syndrome

Opening date: 24 September 2012 Latest update: 14 March 2013


Epidemiological summary

The first described case of novel coronavirus infection was a 60-year-old male resident of Saudi Arabia who died from severe pneumonia complicated by renal failure in June 2012. A previously unknown coronavirus isolated from this patient was identified and named Human Coronavirus-Erasmus Medical Center (HCoV-EMC/2012).

In September 2012, a second case was reported, a Qatari man, who was transferred for care to Europe. In November 2012, additional cases with similar symptomatology were diagnosed in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. These included a family cluster of three confirmed and one probable case. Subsequently, two fatal cases were confirmed retrospectively by testing stored samples from a cluster of 11 cases of lower respiratory infection linked to a hospital in Jordan in April 2012.

In February 2013, a cluster of novel coronavirus cases was reported from the United Kingdom where the index case had travelled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia ten days before symptom onset and where contact tracing identified two secondary cases among family members without recent travel. One person died, the other had a self-limiting influenza-like illness which did not require hospitalisation.

Three additional sporadic cases have been reported since February, all from Saudi Arabia and fatal.

The latest case was notified on 12 March 2013.

This brings the number of cases to 15 globally, including nine deaths.



ECDC assessment

Research on the complete genome sequence of the novel coronavirus has characterised the virus as a new genotype that is closely related to bat coronaviruses. It is genetically distinct from SARS-CoV. The routes of transmission to humans and the virus reservoir have not been determined. This is a common problem with emerging zoonoses where there is often simultaneous possibilities including environmental, animal and human exposures.

The cluster of three cases in the UK is evidence of limited human-to-human transmission. However, several hundred contacts of the UK cluster and the case treated in Germany have now been actively followed up without evidence of novel coronavirus infection indicating that the risk of transmission remains low.



ECDC updated its rapid risk assessment, first published on 7 December 2012. The results of an ECDC coordinated survey on laboratory capacity for testing for the novel coronavirus in Europe were published in EuroSurveillance. On 18 March, WHO posted
interim surveillance recommendations for human infection with novel coronavirus on their website.

ECDC is closely monitoring the situation in collaboration with WHO and the European Union Member States. If new sporadic cases of confirmed NCoV infection are reported, ECDC will communicate them through this report.