The World Health Organization has warned countries to heighten their
surveillance for possible cases of infection with the new coronavirus,
suggesting patients with unexplained pneumonias should be tested even if
they don’t have links to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The agency also
suggested investigating clusters of severe respiratory infections, and
clusters of such illnesses in health-care workers, regardless of where
they happen in the world.
Up until now the WHO has said that testing for the new coronavirus
should be restricted to patients with severe respiratory infections who
had recently travelled to or who were residents of a country that had
recorded cases. To date the only confirmed infections have been in
Qatari and Saudi nationals.
That change in advice, the basis for
which the WHO did not explain, raised eyebrows among some infectious
diseases experts, who were quick to try to read between the lines.