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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

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