A Novel Coronavirus Emerging in China — Key Questions for Impact Assessment (2020/01/24)

Anovel coronavirus, designated as 2019-nCoV, emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019. As of January 24, 2020, at least 830 cases had been diagnosed in nine countries: China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Nepal, and the United States. Twenty-six fatalities occurred, mainly in patients who had serious underlying illness.1 Although many details of the emergence of this virus — such as its origin and its ability to spread among humans — remain unknown, an increasing number of cases appear to have resulted from human-to-human transmission. Given the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) outbreak in 2002 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in 2012,2 2019-nCoV is the third coronavirus to emerge in the human population in the past two decades — an emergence that has put global public health institutions on high alert.

China responded quickly by informing the World Health Organization (WHO) of the outbreak and sharing sequence information with the international community after discovery of the causative agent. The WHO responded rapidly by coordinating diagnostics development; issuing guidance on patient monitoring, specimen collection, and treatment; and providing up-to-date information on the outbreak.3 Several countries in the region as well as the United States are screening travelers from Wuhan for fever, aiming to detect 2019-nCoV cases before the virus spreads further. Updates from China, Thailand, Korea, and Japan indicate that the disease associated with 2019-nCoV appears to be relatively mild as compared with SARS and MERS.

Author: Vincent J. Munster, Marion Koopmans, Neeltje van Doremalen, et al.

Link: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2000929