Rapid Risk Assessment: Severe respiratory disease associated with a novel coronavirus

Risk assessment

This is an update of the rapid risk assessment of severe respiratory disease associated with a novel coronavirus, in relation to three more laboratory confirmed infections reported from the UK in the past 10 days.

Executive summary

As of 16 February 2013, twelve laboratory confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (novel CoV) have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). Six of the cases have been fatal and two others remain very ill.

ECDC has published an update of its risk assessment on the novel coronavirus, providing a number of conclusions and recommendations as well as background information:

  • Of the total of these 12 cases, three recently confirmed cases have been diagnosed in the UK. The second and third cases were infected through human-to-human transmission although the exact route of transmission is still under investigation by the UK authorities. No sustained transmission or expanding clusters of infection have been identified in any country.
  • Close follow-up of approximately 200 health care workers, family and other contacts of cases in Europe and the Middle-East have not yet found other demonstrated instances of human-to-human transmission.
  • The most recent UK case, a relative of the other two UK cases, had only a mild disease and has recovered quickly. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is undertaking intensive follow-up of close contacts of these three recent cases.
  • ECDC supports recommendations of laboratory investigation for novel-CoV of patients with severe acute respiratory infection returning from the Arabian Peninsula and neighbouring countries as defined in the current WHO guidance.
  • Health professionals engaged in receiving medical evacuated patients from the Arabian Peninsula and neighbouring countries with any infectious respiratory condition should be particularly vigilant concerning the possibility of infection with novel-CoV.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients under investigation for novel-CoV should exercise infection control measures following national or international guidance.