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Laboratory capability and surveillance testing for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection in the WHO European Region, June 2013



Laboratory capability and surveillance testing for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection in the WHO European Region, June 2013



Euro Surveillance 19(40): 20923



Since September 2012, over 90 cases of respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus, now named Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERSCoV), have been reported in the Middle East and Europe. To ascertain the capabilities and testing experience of national reference laboratories across the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region to detect this virus, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe conducted a joint survey in November 2012 and a follow-up survey in June 2013. In 2013, 29 of 52 responding WHO European Region countries and 24 of 31 countries of the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) had laboratory capabilities to detect and confirm MERS-CoV cases, compared with 22 of 46 and 18 of 30 countries, respectively, in 2012. By June 2013, more than 2,300 patients had been tested in 23 countries in the WHO European Region with nine laboratory-confirmed MERS-CoV cases. These data indicate that the Region has developed significant capability to detect this emerging virus in accordance with WHO and ECDC guidance. However, not all countries had developed capabilities, and the needs to do so should be addressed. This includes enhancing collaborations between countries to ensure diagnostic capabilities for surveillance of MERS-CoV infections across the European Region.

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