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Human Corona​viruses

2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak​ (COVID-19)

Updated February 20, 2020

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology is closely monitoring the rapidly-emerging outbreak of COVID-19 first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. There are currently no confirmed cases in Alaska.

We are working with CDC and other state and local public health partners to respond to this emerging public health threat.

First identified in the 1960s, coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface.

There are seven coronaviruses that can infect people. People around the world commonly get infected with these four human coronaviruses: 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1.

Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick, and become a new human coronavirus. The following three coronaviruses are examples of this, and are known to cause severe disease. Information on these three coronaviruses can be found below. 

In Alaska, providers must immediately report suspected cases of any of the following to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology (SOE) at (907) 269-8000.


On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization reported that a novel (new) coronavirus had been preliminarily identified by Chinese authorities. The virus is associated with an outbreak of pneumonia that started in late December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which has resulted in thousands of confirmed cases in China, including cases outside of Wuhan City.  Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States.  

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MERS-CoV (the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It has since caused illness in people from dozens of other countries. All cases to date have been linked to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula.


SARS-CoV (the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was first recognized in China in November 2002. It caused a worldwide outbreak in 2002-2003 with 8,098 probable cases including 774 deaths. Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS-CoV infection reported anywhere in the world.