Published time: 31 January 2020
Authors: Mary E Wilson, Lin H Chen
Keywords: Wuhan, SARS, MERS, novel coronavirus, bats, live animal markets, spillover, cross-species spread, respiratory, airborne, one health, super-spreader
This virus can fly. For the third time in less than two decades the world is confronting a deadly and disruptive epidemic caused by a coronavirus.1,2 The first was the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002–2003. The second started unfolding in 2012 caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). SARS was contained through consistent, compulsive application of traditional public health measures (surveillance, detection, isolation of infected persons and quarantine of exposed). MERS still smolders (about 2500 cases confirmed globally) but has remained largely confined to the Middle East except for one well-documented outbreak (186 cases) traced to a traveller returning to South Korea from the Middle East.3 Both SARS and MERS have been associated with nosocomial transmission and super-spreader events, in which a single person infected many others.4 In December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases was reported to be linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Now the world is confronting the emergence of 2019- nCoV, and on 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization declared it to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Travellers give wings to novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)