Brief Update on Novel Coronavirus

Since our last report on the novel coronavirus, nCoV or MERS, the numbers have risen. There are now 40 cases and 20 deaths attributed to nCoV. New cases and deaths all come from the health facility cluster in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

Last week, two cases were documented in France, marking the first official documentation of human-to-human transmission. This week, the virus has successfully been passed from patient to health facility personnel. The two most recent cases are a 45-year-old male, healthcare worker, reportedly in critical condition, and a 43-year-old female healthcare worker with a “coexisting health condition,” but in stable condition.

This outbreak has, in my opinion, been much more difficult to track than H7N9. As emerging viruses are causing both outbreaks, there is a chance that mild cases are going undetected. And how are we to know that the first cases we detected are really the first cases? As the nCoV outbreak continues, more information has come out about a cluster of severe respiratory illness cases in a healthcare facility in Jordan during April 2012. Two deaths from this outbreak were retrospectively diagnosed as nCoV deaths. The WHO notes that this was the first incidence of healthcare-associated transmission of the virus. However, the two most recent cases from the Al-Ahsa cluster represent the first time that healthcare personnel have been diagnosed after being exposed to an infected patient.

Twenty-one of the 40 nCoV cases and nine of the 20 deaths, are from the Al-Ahsa healthcare facility cluster. The WHO reminds healthcare personnel to take appropriate infection prevention and control measures. No restrictions have been made on trade or travel, and no screenings have been advised at this point.

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