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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2

A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): What do we know so far?

Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, Jouf University, Sakakah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission04-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance08-Feb-2020
Date of Web Publication12-Mar-2020

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Ibrahim A Taher
Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, Jouf University, Sakakah
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2588-9044.280562

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How to cite this article:
Taher IA, Ghazy AA. A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): What do we know so far?. Libyan J Med Sci 2020;4:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Taher IA, Ghazy AA. A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): What do we know so far?. Libyan J Med Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Oct 7];4:1-2. Available from: https://www.ljmsonline.com/text.asp?2020/4/1/1/280562

Coronaviruses are made of a family that are known to cause a series of respiratory illnesses such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).[1] Over the two decades, those two coronaviruses had crossed species to infect human populations, leading to outbreak of SARS in 2002 and MERS-CoV in 2012. The most recent novel coronavirus is officially named as 2019-nCoV identified few months ago in Wuhan, China. The virus was found to affect persons in contact with seafood or wet market.[2],[3] This emergence has led to a worldwide public health concern, being set to a very high alert.

By the end of December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases were reported from China among individuals in contact with the Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan and Hubei Province. Later, the Chinese health authorities have confirmed the cause directed to the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV.[4],[5] The World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of the outbreak by the Chinese heath authorities, and the sequence information of the causative agent was shard with the international community. The WHO responded rapidly by continuous monitoring of developments, coordinating diagnostics, and screening methodologies, giving guidance and recommendations on patient monitoring, collection of specimens, and treatment and providing the latest information on the outbreak globally.[6],[7] In the latest development, the WHO Emergency Committee has confirmed that this 20190-nCoV outbreak meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.[8]

The virus struck hard, leading to over 10,000 confirmed cases with 361 deaths in China alone since the beginning of the outbreak and the virus has subsequently spread around the world reaching more than 20 countries. By the end of the 1st week of February 2020, over 31,481 confirmed cases were reported worldwide,[9] including around 270 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection in 24 other countries including Japan, South-Korea, the United States, Germany, United Arab Emirates, and others,[3],[6],[9],[10] with 637 deaths in China and one death being reported outside of China.[9]

The sharing of the full genetic sequence of 2019-nCoV between Chinese researchers and others[2],[3],[11],[12] can lead to the expedition of the development of sensitive assays helping in the rapid detection of infection in humans, possible zoonotic sources, and will guide the development of experimental animal models, therapies, and vaccines.[2]

Scientists believe that bats could be the primary source for 2019-nCoV. Other, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV are known to be transmitted to humans through exotic animals and camels, respectively. The ancestral hosts of both these cases are probably bats. However, it is not clear yet if the new 2019-nCoV is directly transmitted from bats or an intermediate hosts may play a role.[13]

In view of the epidemiological information regarding 2019-nCoV infection, it indicates that human-to-human transmission occurs through droplets and/or contact. Rothe et al. have reported that transmission of 2019-nCoV can occur during incubation period from asymptomatic persons.[10] Moreover, convalescent patients were reported to have high levels of sputum viral load which may predict a prolonged shedding of 2019-nCoV even after recovery. However, a viral culture assay is necessary to demonstrate the viability of the detected virus using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.

The current researches estimate the viral incubation period to range between 2 and 14 days. Understanding the time when infected patients may transmit the virus to others (infectious period of 2019-nCoV) is critical for control efforts, in particular whether transmission can occur from asymptomatic individuals or during the incubation period.[6]

SARS-CoV outbreaks were contained eventually by means of syndromic surveillance, isolation of patients, and quarantine procedures. Thus, applying the basic principles of infection control measures, such as avoiding direct contact with suffers from acute respiratory infections, regular hand-washing, avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, and practicing cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands), can ultimately lead to reducing the risk of transmission of respiratory infections.[6]

Finally, many details of this emerged virus still need to be determined, such as its origin, its zoonotic transmission patterns, degree to which the virus is mutating, risk factors, extent of interhuman transmission, clinical spectrum of the diseases, and availability of developing vaccines to those at high risk.

  References Top

Huang C, Wang Y, Li X, Ren L, Zhao J, Hu Y, et al. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Lancet 2020;395:497-506. [doi: 10.1056/NEJMe2001126].  Back to cited text no. 1
Perlman S. Another decade, another coronavirus. N Engl J Med 2020. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejme2001126.  Back to cited text no. 2
Holshue ML, DeBolt C, Lindquist S, Lofy KH, Wiesman J, Bruce H, et al. First case of 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States. N Engl J Med 2020. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2001191.  Back to cited text no. 3
World Health Organization. Pneumonia of Unknown Cause-China. 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/csr/don/05-january-2020-pneumonia-of-unkown-cause-china/en/. [Last accessed on 2020 Feb 02].  Back to cited text no. 4
World Health Organization. Novel Coronavirus – China; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/csr/don/12-january-2020-novel-coronavirus-china/en/. [Last accessed on 2020 Feb 02].  Back to cited text no. 5
WHO. Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 7. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200127-sitrep-7-2019--ncov.pdf?sfvrsn=98ef79f5_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Jan 27].  Back to cited text no. 6
Munster VJ, Koopmans M, van Doremalen N, van Riel D, de Wit E. A Novel Coronavirus Emerging in China-Key Questions for Impact Assessment. N Engl J Med 2020. p. 1-3. [doi: 10.1056/NEJMp2000929].  Back to cited text no. 7
World Health Organization. Statement on the Second Meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee Regarding the Outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) 30 January, 2020 Statement, Geneva, Switzerland. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/30-01-2020-statement-on-the-second-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations. [Last accessed on 2020 Feb 02].  Back to cited text no. 8
WHO. Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 18. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200207-sitrep-18-ncov.pdf?sfvrsn=fa644293_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Feb 08].  Back to cited text no. 9
Rothe C, Schunk M, Sothmann P, Bretzel G, Froeschl G, Wallrauch C, et al. Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany. N Eng J Med 2020. p. 1-2. [doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2001468].  Back to cited text no. 10
Zhu N, Zhang D, Wang W, Li X, Yang B, Song J, et al. China Novel Coronavirus Investigating and Research Team. A novel coronavirus from patients with pneumonia in China, 2019. N Engl J Med 2020. [doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2001017].  Back to cited text no. 11
Zhou P, Yang XL, Wang XG, Wang XG, Hu B, Zhang L, et al. Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent pneumonia outbreak in 2 humans and its potential bat origin. BioRxiv 2020. [doi: 10.1101/2020.01.22.914952].  Back to cited text no. 12
Mulangu S, Dodd LE, Davey RT Jr, Tshiani Mbaya O, Proschan M, Mukadi D, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of ebola virus disease therapeutics. N Engl J Med 2019;381:2293-303.  Back to cited text no. 13


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