News / Health

New SARS-Like Virus Can Probably Pass Person-to-Person

A electron microscope image of a coronavirus is seen in this undated picture provided by the Health Protection Agency in London, (File photo).A electron microscope image of a coronavirus is seen in this undated picture provided by the Health Protection Agency in London, (File photo).
x
A electron microscope image of a coronavirus is seen in this undated picture provided by the Health Protection Agency in London, (File photo).
A electron microscope image of a coronavirus is seen in this undated picture provided by the Health Protection Agency in London, (File photo).
Reuters
World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Sunday it seemed likely a new coronavirus that has killed at least 18 people in the Middle East and Europe could be passed between humans, but only after prolonged contact.


A virus from the same family triggered the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that swept the world after emerging in Asia and killed 775 people in 2003.
        
On Sunday French authorities announced that a second man had been diagnosed with the disease after sharing a hospital room with France's only other sufferer.
        
WHO Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda told reporters in Saudi Arabia, the site of the largest cluster of infections,  there was no evidence so far the virus was able to sustain "generalized transmission in communities'' - a scenario that would raise the specter of a pandemic.

But he added: "Of most concern... is the fact that the different clusters seen in multiple countries... increasingly support the hypothesis that when there is close contact, this novel coronavirus can transmit from person to person."

"There is a need for countries to... increase levels of awareness," he said.

A public health expert who declined to be identified, said "close contact" meant being in the same small, enclosed space with an infected person for a prolonged period.
        
The virus first emerged in the Gulf last year, but deaths have also been recorded in Britain and France of people who had recently been in the Middle East. A total of 34 cases worldwide have been confirmed by blood tests so far.

New deaths

Saudi Deputy Health Minister for Public Health Ziad Memish told reporters that, of 15 confirmed cases in the most recent outbreak, in al-Ahsa district of Eastern Province, nine had died, two more than previously reported.

Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry said in a statement the country had had 24 confirmed cases since last summer, of whom 15 had died. Fukuda said he was not sure if the two newly reported Saudi deaths were included in the numbers confirmed by the WHO.

Memish added that three suspected cases in Saudi Arabia were still under investigation, including previous negative results that were being re-examined.

The first French patient was confirmed as suffering from the disease on Wednesday after travelling in the Gulf. The second patient was transferred to intensive care on Sunday after the two men shared a room in a hospital in Lille.

Professor Benoit Guery, head of the Lille hospital's infectious diseases unit, said the first patient had not been immediately isolated because he presented "'quite atypical" symptoms.

He added in comments broadcast by BFMTV channel the case suggested that airborne transmission of the virus was possible, though still unusual, and that the public ''should not be concerned" as there had been only 34 cases globally in a year.

Fukuda, part of a WHO team visiting Saudi Arabia to investigate the spread of the disease, said although no specific vaccine or medication was yet available for novel coronavirus, patients were responding to treatment."
        
"The care that is taken in the hospitals, in terms of using respirators well, in terms of treating pneumonia, in terms of treating complications, in terms of providing support, these steps can get patients through this very severe illness," he said.

Fukuda said that as far as he knew all cases in the latest outbreak in al-Ahsa district were directly or indirectly linked to one hospital.

He added that Saudi Arabian authorities had taken novel coronavirus very seriously and had initiated necessary health measures such as increased surveillance systems.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More