Monday, September 24, 2012

Hong Kong alert for novel coronavirus cases

September 24, 2012
The Centre for Health Protection has formed an enhanced surveillance mechanism with public and private hospitals to watch for cases of novel coronavirus infection.

The move follows the World Health Organisation's report on September 23 of a case of novel coronavirus infection. The case involved a previously healthy 49-year-old Qatari man who had been in Saudi Arabia prior to the onset of illness on September 3. He is being treated for severe respiratory illness in London.

The UK's Health Protection Agency has confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus. It said the virus isolate from the patient is highly similar to the coronavirus identified from a fatal case in a 60-year-old Saudi man reported on September 20.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which include those that cause the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The WHO is gathering more information to determine the public health implications of these two confirmed cases.

In Hong Kong, the centre reported that the Public Health Laboratory Centre has the capacity to detect this virus. No human infection with this virus has been identified here so far.

The centre will closely monitor the progress of further epidemiological investigations and surveillance, and the corresponding advice from the WHO.

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