15 February 2013
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) can confirm a third case of novel coronavirus infection in a family cluster, following the confirmed diagnosis of two cases announced earlier this week. The patient, who is a UK resident and does not have any recent travel history, is recovering from a mild respiratory illness and is currently well. This latest case brings the total number of confirmed cases globally to 12, of which four have been diagnosed in the UK.
Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: "Although this patient had a mild form of respiratory illness, as a precaution the HPA is advising that the patient self-isolate and limit contact with non-household members. Follow up of other household members and contacts of this case is currently underway.
“Although this case appears to be due to person-to-person transmission, the risk of infection in contacts in most circumstances is still considered to be low. If novel coronavirus were more infectious, we would have expected to have seen a larger number of cases than we have seen since the first case was reported three months ago. However, this new development does justify the measures that were immediately put into place to prevent any further spread of infection and to identify and follow up contacts of known cases.
“We would like to emphasise that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains very low. The HPA will continue to work closely with national and international health authorities and will share any further advice with health professionals and the public if and when more information becomes available."
1. Laboratory confirmed cases to date: 12
2. Coronaviruses are causes of the common cold but can also include more severe illness, such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). This new coronavirus was first identified in September 2012 in a patient who died from a severe respiratory infection in June 2012. The virus has so far only been identified in a small number of cases of acute, serious respiratory illness who presented with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
3. For further information, see the HPA’s coronavirus webpages which includes a Q&A on this topic.
4. The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013 the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: www.hpa.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @HPAuk.
5. For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 0208 200 4400.
Last reviewed: 15 February 2013