Diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus (CoV) that recently emerged in the Middle East are being deployed rapidly in Europe, and about 250 patients have already been tested for the virus, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
An ECDC survey revealed that a screening test for the virus is available in 23 of 46 responding countries in the World Health Organization's (WHO's) European Region, according to a report yesterday in Eurosurveillance. Those include 19 of 30 countries in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).
Confirmatory testing of positive screened samples is available in 22 of 46 responding countries, including 18 of 30 EU and EEA countries, according to the survey. Six EU and EEA countries reported that they had tested about 250 patients who met the WHO surveillance criteria, the ECDC said.
The available screening test was the upE RT-PCR (reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) assay, while confirmatory testing involved ORF1b RT-PCR or other target RT-PCR assays with sequence analysis, the report said.
Nine novel CoV infections, with five deaths, have been identified in the world so far.
In a companion report, a German team describes a new confirmatory test for the novel CoV and a serologic test to detect antibodies to the virus. The authors say the recent investigation of a cluster of novel CoV cases in Saudi Arabia suggested that RT-PCR testing may miss cases in patients with symptoms and epidemiologic links to known cases.