Call for novel coronavirus monitoring in other countries too

From the WHO | Updated on January 18, 2020

The World Health Organization is working with officials in Thailand and China following reports of confirmation of the novel coronavirus in a person in Thailand. A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The person was a traveller from Wuhan, China, and was identified by Thai officials on January 8, and hospitalised. The person is said to be recovering from the illness.

The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected, and reinforces why WHO calls for on-going active monitoring and preparedness in other countries.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

The genetic sequencing shared by China enables more countries to rapidly diagnose patients. WHO reiterates that it is essential that investigations continue in China to identify the source of this outbreak and any animal reservoirs or intermediate hosts.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand-washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

There have been 41 confirmed cases in China and one death that occurred in a patient with serious underlying medical conditions. Preliminary epidemiological investigation suggests that most cases worked at or were handlers and frequent visitors to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

Given developments, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will consult with Emergency Committee members and could call for a meeting of the committee at short notice.

Published on January 18, 2020

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