Emerging understandings of 2019-nCoV (2020/01/24)

“There is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency…WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day”, said Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, on Jan 23. A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is emerging, but it is not yet a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). As we went to press, more than 500 cases have been confirmed in China, as well as in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the US. The virus can cause a severe respiratory illness, like SARS and MERS, and human-to-human transmission has been confirmed. These characteristics are driving China’s urgent public health actions, as well as international concern. But much remains unknown. The pieces of the puzzle that is 2019-nCoV are only now beginning to come together.
Today, we publish the first clinical data from individuals confirmed to be infected with 2019-nCoV from Wuhan, China. Chaolin Huang and colleagues provide comprehensive findings for the first 41 laboratory-confirmed cases. 27 of these 41 cases had direct exposure to the Wuhan seafood market that is thought to be the initial site of infection from an animal source. All had viral pneumonia. The severity of illness is concerning: almost a third of patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome requiring intensive care; six patients died; five had acute cardiac injury; and four required ventilation.