COVID-19 (formerly nCoV-19) was initially identified from cultured samples from pneumonia cases using electron microscopy, and reported as a betacoronavirus, similar to MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. PCR Assays were then developed and the novel virus identified.
The full genome has been shared and is available and WHO, CDC and PHE have guidelines for laboratories. A fully validated assay has yet to be developed but is expected soon.
Further following resources are available:
CDC - Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). CLICK HERE
WHO - Interim guidance: laboratory testing for 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in suspected human cases. CLICK HERE
PHE - Interim guidance: laboratory testing for 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in suspected human cases. CLICK HERE
ECDC - Laboratory testing of suspect cases of COVID-19 using RT-PCR. CLICK HERE
Public Health Ontario - Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing. CLICK HERE
The ECDC advise that infection with COVID-19 should be immediately reported to the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) in accordance with Decision No 1082/2013 on serious cross-border threats to health and to the IHR system in accordance with the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR).