25 September 2012 -
As of 25 September 2012, no additional cases of acute
respiratory syndrome with renal failure due to infection with a novel
coronavirus have been reported to WHO. WHO is continuing investigations
into two recently confirmed infections identified as a novel
coronavirus. Today WHO issued an interim case definition to help
countries strengthen health protection measures against the new virus.
The case definition, based on the cases so far, includes
criteria for identifying a ‘patient under investigation’, a ‘probable
case’ and a ‘confirmed case’. These criteria are based on clinical,
epidemiological and laboratory indicators.
Following the confirmation of the novel coronavirus, WHO -
under the International Health Regulations - immediately alerted all its
Member States about the virus and has been leading the coordination and
providing guidance to health authorities and technical health agencies.
WHO is also identifying a network of laboratories that can provide
expertise on coronaviruses for countries.
On 22 September 2012, the United Kingdom (UK) informed WHO of a
case of acute respiratory syndrome with travel history to the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Qatar.
The case is a previously healthy, 49 year-old male Qatari
national that presented with symptoms on 3 September 2012 with travel
history to KSA several days prior to onset of illness. On 7 September he
was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar. On 11 September,
he was transferred to the UK by air ambulance from Qatar. The Health
Protection Agency of the UK (HPA) conducted laboratory testing and
subsequently confirmed the presence of the novel coronavirus.
The HPA compared the sequencing of the virus isolate from the
49 year-old Qatari national with that of a virus sequenced previously by
the Erasmus University Medical Centre, Netherlands. This latter isolate
was obtained from lung tissue of a fatal case earlier this year in a 60
year-old Saudi national. This comparison indicated 99.5% identity, with
one nucleotide mismatch over the regions compared.
Though it is a very different virus to SARS, given the
severity of the two confirmed cases so far, WHO is engaged in further
characterizing the novel coronavirus. As such, international efforts are
being stepped up across all WHO six regions to ensure an appropriate
and effective response with a WHO specialist team in daily contact with
more than a dozen international and regional technical partners.
In addition WHO is working closely with KSA, as in previous
years, to support the country’s health measures for all visitors
participating in the Haji pilgrimage to Mecca next month.