11 February 2013
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) can confirm the diagnosis of a further case of novel coronavirus infection in a UK resident, who had recently travelled to the Middle East and Pakistan. The patient is receiving intensive care treatment in a Manchester hospital. This latest case brings the total number of confirmed cases globally to 10, of which two have been diagnosed in the UK.
Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: "The HPA is providing advice to healthcare workers to ensure the patient under investigation is being treated appropriately and that healthcare staff who are looking after the patient are protected. Contacts of the case are also being followed up to check on their health.
“Our assessment is that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travellers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low. No travel restrictions are in place but people who develop severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within ten days of returning from these countries should seek medical advice and mention which countries they have visited.
“Since the first case of novel coronavirus was diagnosed in the UK in September 2012, the HPA has maintained increased vigilance for illness caused by this virus, working closely with national and international authorities including the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). We have also produced updated guidance for health professionals in the UK on the investigation and management of possible cases.”
Professor Maria Zambon, director of reference microbiology services at the HPA, said: “A battery of laboratory tests have been developed by the HPA to test for coronavirus infection when cases of severe respiratory illness are identified, which are not explained by other infectious causes. These tests, which detect the presence of virus in the body, are available for use by selected frontline HPA laboratories.
“In mid-November the HPA published the full genome sequence from the first UK patient, enabling scientists around the world to understand more about the diversity of this virus. This will help with efforts to determine the origin of the virus and develop strategies for treatment and prevention.”
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.
Notes to editors:
1. Laboratory confirmed cases to date: 10
2. 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.
3. 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: 11 February 2013