Detection of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by real-time RT-PCR (2020/01/25)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown aetiology in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, on 31 December 2019 [1]. A novel coronavirus currently termed 2019-nCoV was officially announced as the causative agent by Chinese authorities on 7 January. A viral genome sequence was released for immediate public health support via the community online resource on 10 January (Wuhan-Hu-1, GenBank accession number MN908947 [2]), followed by four other genomes deposited on 12 January in the viral sequence database curated by the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). The genome sequences suggest presence of a virus closely related to the members of a viral species termed severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related CoV, a species defined by the agent of the 2002/03 outbreak of SARS in humans [3,4]. The species also comprises a large number of viruses mostly detected in rhinolophid bats in Asia and Europe.

As at 20 January 2019, 282 laboratory-confirmed human cases have been notified to WHO [5]. Confirmed cases in travellers from Wuhan were announced on 13 and 17 January in Thailand as well as on 15 January in Japan and 19 January in Korea. The extent of human-to-human transmission of 2019-nCoV is unclear at the time of writing of this report but there is evidence of some human-to-human transmission.

Author: Victor M Corman, Olfert Landt, Marco Kaiser, et al.