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Briefing: Testing for COVID-19

Briefing from the Royal College of Pathologists on testing for COVID-19

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was informed of a cluster of casesof pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. On 12 January 2020 it was announced that a novel coronavirus had been identified in samples obtained from cases and that initial analysis of virus genetic sequences suggested that this was the cause of the outbreak.

This virus is referred to as SARS-CoV-2, and the associated disease as COVID-19.

The recent emergence of this virus means that knowledge of the infection is developing all thetime. It is increasingly clear that many people have mild or even no  symptoms of infection. However, a small percentage of people have life-threatening disease and admission of thesepatients to hospital is likely to cause severe healthcare disruption.