Most infections with human coronaviruses are mild and associated with common colds. The six coronaviruses known to infect humans are in the alpha and beta genera. Both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome) are betacoronaviruses.
Global surveillance of potential epidemics and preparation has improved since and because of the SARS epidemic, and MERS is being closely monitored.
The Fourth Meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee concerning MERS-CoV was held on 4 December 2013. The committee decided that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) had not at present been met.
In November 2012, Egyptian virologist Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki sent a virus sample from the first confirmed case to virologist Ron Fouchier, a leading coronavirus researcher at the Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The second laboratory-proven case was in London, confirmed by the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA). The HPA named the virus the London1_novel CoV 2012.