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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid