A confirmed person-to-person transmission of the novel coronavirus (NcoV) occurred when a British man recently contracted the disease from a family member, according to a Health Protection Agency (HPA) press release.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause respiratory infections in humans and animals, from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
Officials believe that this patient possesses an existing medical condition that may have made him more susceptible to respiratory infections.
“Although this case provides strong evidence for person to person transmission, the risk of infection in most circumstances is still considered to be very low,” said professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA. “If novel coronavirus were more infectious, we would have expected to have seen a larger number of cases than we have seen since the first case was reported three months ago.”
Watson does note, however, that the development justifies measures “immediately put into place to prevent any further spread of infection and to identify and follow up contacts of known cases.”
Since first being identified in September 2012, there have been a total of 11 people infected with the NcoV, five of whom have died. The World Health Organization (WHO) is actively monitoring the virus.