Map created by CUHK SpatioEpi Group
For over one year, the human population has been under the threats of a SARS-like virus. The new virus (Novel coronavirus, NCoV or MERS-CoV) began to emerge in the Arabian Peninsula since April 2012. As of June 2013, over 50 cases of NCoV infections have been reported. This map shows the distribution of NCoV cases, most of which resident in Middle Eastern countries - Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan. Some cases have been reported in Europe (France, Italy, Germany and United Kingdom), where most had travel history to the Middle East. More recently cases were diagnosed in the African country of Tunisia. Almost all NCoV patients have significant respiratory disease, and more than half have died. A minority of cases presented with mild symptoms. While exposure to animal is the cause of NCoV infections, human-to-human transmission has occurred. Clusters have been reported in family and health care facilities. It is obvious that the virus is crossing country boundaries and has moved across continents.
MERS-CoV is the abbreviation for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, a newly discovered virus associated with severe respiratory symptoms in infected persons, largely from countries in the Middle East. "Corona" means crown, which refers to the crown-like appearance under electron microscope. Initially named as NCoV (novel coronavirus), the virus belongs to a common family composing of viruses responsible for common cold, and SARS that caused severe outbreaks in Hong Kong, back in 2003. The virus was structurally similar to coronavirus in bats and other animals. The first case of MERS-CoV infection was reported in April 2012. Scientific evidences suggested that MERS-CoV is a virus infecting dromedary camels, through which human infection occurred, though the exact mode of transmission is not well characterized. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented as a result of suboptimal infection control practice. There is no definitive treatment for MERS-CoV infection and about one-third of infected patients have died from the infection.
中東呼吸綜合症冠狀病毒 (MERS-CoV) 是導致新發現嚴重呼吸道感染的病毒，大部份個案來自中東。冠狀病毒取名於病毒在電子顯微鏡下的皇冠外形。冠狀病毒與引起上呼吸道感染的病毒和2003年香港沙士疫症的沙士冠狀病毒同屬一個病毒家族，結構上與蝙蝠及其他動物的冠狀病毒相似。2012年4月首次發現人類感染中東呼吸綜合症，其病毒當時被稱為新型冠狀病毒（NCoV）。科學研究發現MERS-CoV 主要在單峰駱駝之間傳播，再引致入類受到感染，當中的傳播過程仍未得以破解。人傳人的個案亦已出現，主要和醫療環境下感染控制措施不足有關。時至今日，仍然沒有有效的治療MERS-CoV方法，大約三分一感染者死亡。
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