News is percolating among international travelers about what’s called the Novel Coronavirus, a new and deadly disease that can cause severe respiratory illness and fever.
The number of people infected since it was spotted last year is very low so far – 34 people from April 2012 to May 2013 according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – but the death rate is high and there is no specific treatment for it. Many cases have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and most recently a tourist from France is believed to have caught the virus when visiting Dubai (and his hospital roommate in France became infected).
However, the World Health Organization currently is not recommending any special screening at borders nor is it recommending any travel or trade restrictions because of the Novel Coronavirus.
“Q: What is the new human coronavirus?
A: The new virus is a beta coronavirus. It is different from other coronaviruses that have been found in people before.
Q: Is this virus the same as the SARS virus?
A: No. The novel coronavirus is not the same virus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, like the SARS virus, the novel coronavirus is most similar to those found in bats. CDC is still learning about this new virus.
Q: How many people have been infected?
A: From April 2012 to May 2013, a total of 34 people from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and France were confirmed to have an infection caused by the novel coronavirus.
- Saudi Arabia: 24 people; 15 of them died
- Qatar: 2 people; both survived
- Jordan: 2 people; both died
- UK: 3 people; 2 died, 1 recovered
- UAE: 1 person; died
- France: 2 people, both receiving treatment
For more information, see the World Health Organization.
Q: What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus infection?
A: Most people who got infected with the novel coronavirus developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Only two people experienced a mild respiratory illness.
Q: Does the virus spread from person to person?
A: In the UK, one infected person likely spread the virus to two family members. This cluster of cases provides the first evidence of person-to-person transmission. The UK’s Public Health England is continuing to investigate this.”