03:11pm Tuesday 22 August 2017

New coronavirus variant detected

Illustration photoBoth people, who have been in Saudi Arabia, were confirmed to be infected with a previously unknown type of coronavirus. The situation is being monitored through the international infectious disease control networks in which Norway participates.
The genetic sequence of the virus isolated from both patients was compared and is almost 100 per cent identical. One patient has died and the other is critically ill and is in an intensive care unit in the UK. Both have been in Saudi Arabia, but are believed to have become ill three months apart. There is no evidence of a common source of infection or transmission between humans.

In addition, there are reports from the UK about a third person from Saudi Arabia, who was admitted to hospital in August with similar clinical symptoms and later died. In this case, there was no confirmed viral analysis.

Coronaviruses form a large family of viruses that include the common cold and other respiratory viruses, some of which can cause serious illness. Based on the proven cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other infectious disease control authorities are now monitoring the situation and considering possible health impacts measures. As yet, WHO does not recommend travel restrictions based on the reported cases.

“The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is monitoring the situation closely and is in dialogue with the European Commission and the WHO,” says Dr Karin Rønning, Division Director at the Department of Infectious Disease Control.

“We have contacted the Infectious Disease departments at all the regional hospitals. None of these have reported admissions of patients with such acute illness,” says Rønning.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has been notified of two cases of severe acute respiratory infection with renal failure.

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