Emergencies preparedness, response

Revised interim case definition – novel coronavirus

Interim case definition as of 16 January 2013


Based on additional information received since the original recommendations were published, WHO has updated its recommendations for surveillance. Surveillance recommendations are now contained in a separate document:

This case definition document has been revised to remove overlapping and outdated material. The definition is currently under review but the substance has not changed.

WHO will continue to review and revise guidance related to novel coronavirus as more information becomes available.

Case definitions for reporting

Probable Case

  • A person fitting the definition above of a “Patient Under Investigation”, with clinical, radiological, or histopathological evidence of pulmonary parenchymal disease (e.g. pneumonia or the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, ARDS) but no possibility of laboratory confirmation either because the patient or samples are not available or no testing is available for other respiratory infections; AND
  • close contact* with a laboratory-confirmed case; AND
  • not already explained by any other infection or aetiology, including all clinically indicated tests for community-acquired pneumonia according to local management guidelines.

Confirmed Case

A person with laboratory confirmation of infection with the novel coronavirus.


WHO requests that probable and confirmed cases be reported within 24 hours of being classified as such, through the regional focal point for International Health Regulations at the appropriate WHO Regional Office.

* Close contact includes:

  • anyone who provided care for the patient, including a health care worker or family member, or who had other similarly close physical contact;
  • anyone who stayed at the same place (e.g. lived with, visited) as a probable or confirmed case while the case was symptomatic.