New Coronavirus: International Responsibilities of Veterinary Authorities


On 31 December 2019, human cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology were reported in the city of Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei Province. On January 7, 2020, Chinese authorities identified a CoV, named New Coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV). These viruses are called coronaviruses because the viral particle shows a characteristic “crown” of spicular proteins around the lipid envelope. In humans, CoVs can cause a range of illnesses from common colds to more serious diseases.

Genetic sequence data show that 2019-nCoV is a close relative of another CoV found in populations of Rhinolophus bats (horseshoe bats). It is suspected that the new coronavirus 2019 may be of animal origin, but further research is needed to confirm this.

The OIE is cooperating closely with its network of experts involved in ongoing research into the origin of the disease. It also manages rumours and unofficial information on a daily basis.

The detection of 2019-nCoV in animals meets the criteria of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code to be considered as an emerging disease. This implies that any detection of 2019-nCoV in an animal, including information on the species, the diagnostic tests used and any relevant epidemiological information, must be notified to the OIE through the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS).

It is important for Veterinary Authorities to keep themselves informed and in close cooperation with public health and wildlife authorities to ensure consistent, relevant and effective risk management communication.

At borders, biosecurity risks should be effectively managed and cooperation with control authorities should be established.

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