14 May 2013

NZ should increase surveillance for new virus - virologist

9:34 am on 14 May 2013

A virologist says the new strain of coronavirus has not yet reached the pandemic stage but New Zealand should increase it awareness.

Since 2012, there have been 34 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (NCoV) across Europe and the Middle East and 18 people have died, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) update said.

WHO officials have said it is likely the virus can be passed between people in close contact.

The director of the WHO National Influenza Centre in Upper Hutt says New Zealand should beef up surveillance, have a good diagnostic test and increase awareness of the virus for healthcare workers.

Dr Sue Huang told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the Ministry of Health has issued interim guidelines for dealing with a potential pandemic.