Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid 1960s. There are 3 subtypes and they all cause respiratory infections in both humans and animals. However this strain, first identified in 2012, is a completely new strain, not detected previously.
As there has not yet been that many patients infected, (around 11 so far around the world), there is limited information on clinical impact, transmission and severity of the virus, at this stage.
The main symptoms observed in patients infected are fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. The virus is passed on from person to person much like flu or a cold, by droplets released during coughing or sneezing.
Although it is a similar virus to the one that caused SARS, there is no current need to be alarmed as human to human spread seems to be limited.
Treatment is mainly supportive, but if you are have breathing difficulty it is best to see a doctor immediately, especially if you have been to the Middle East recently.
There is a blood test available to confirm the diagnosis, so if you have respiratory symptoms and are really unwell best to get yourself checked out.