Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
Molecular assays to diagnose 2019-nCoV
Several assays that detect the 2019-nCoV have been and are currently under development, both in-house and commercially. Some assays may detect only the novel virus and some may also detect other strains (e.g. SARS-CoV) that are genetically similar.
In-house developed molecular assays
Some groups shared their protocols which can be accessed below (Summary table and link to the protocols). In some cases, the groups will be willing to send reagents or reagent mixes prepared in their laboratories, with or without associated fees. It is strongly recommended to contact the developer if you need further assistance. The list is not exhaustive and is being updated regularly.
Summary table of available protocols
China CDC Primers and probes for detection 2019-nCoV (24 January 2020)
Diagnostic detection of Wuhan coronavirus 2019 by real-time RT-PCR – Charité, Berlin Germany (17 January 2020)
Detection of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in suspected human cases by RT-PCR – Hong Kong University (23 January 2020)
PCR and sequencing protocol for 2019-nCoV - Department of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand (Updated 28 January 2020)
PCR and sequencing protocols for 2019-nCoV- National Institute of Infectious Diseases Japan (24 January 2020)
US CDC Real-Time RT-PCR Panel for Detection 2019-Novel Coronavirus (28 January 2020)
US CDC panel primer and probes– U.S. CDC, USA (28 January 2020)
Real-time RT-PCR assays for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 Institut Pasteur, Paris (2 March 2020)
Laboratory testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in suspected human cases. Interim guidance (02Mar2020)
Disease commodity package - Novel Coronavirus (nCoV)(06Mar2020)