Interim laboratory biosafety guidelines for the handling and transport of samples associated with the novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV), 28 January 2020
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In January 2020, the etiologic agent responsible for a cluster of severe pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, was identified as a novel beta-coronavirus (2019-nCoV), distinct than SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV (1) (2) (3). The complete genomic sequence of this new agent is available and different detection protocols have been developed, although they have not been fully validated yet. However, in light of the possible introduction of a suspected case related to 2019-nCoV in the Region of the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO) recommends that Member States ensure its timely identification either by the shipment of the samples to national or reference laboratories, or the implementation of the molecular detection protocol for 2019-nCoV, depending on the laboratory's capacity. To date, the pathogenic potential and transmission dynamics of 2019-nCoV is not fully understood. For this reason and in the light of the knowledge of other similar viruses (e.g., MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV), it is necessary to maintain and strengthen biosafety measures including personal protection procedures, to work with samples from suspected cases of respiratory pathogen infection.
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