News / Health

Death Toll from SARS-Like Virus Rises to 30

This undated image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an electron microscope image of a coronavirus.
This undated image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an electron microscope image of a coronavirus.
Selah Hennessy
The World Health Organization said the global death toll from a SARS-like virus has risen to 30, after three new deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia. Health experts are scrambling to understand the new virus.

World Health Organization spokesperson Gregory Hartl spoke to VOA from Geneva. He said, "As of today we have 50 confirmed cases of which unfortunately 30 have died.”

The most recent deaths occurred in Saudi Arabia, from where two-thirds of the cases have emerged.

In all, eight countries that have been affected by the virus, including Tunisia, Jordan, Britain, and France, where earlier this week a 65-year-old man died of the virus - the first patient in France to die from the condition.

But Hartl emphasized that up until now the virus appears to have its routes in the Middle East.

“So far all the cases have a connection to the Arabian Peninsula," he said. "The initial cases in France and in the U.K. and in Tunisia all had a travel history associated with somewhere on the Arabian Peninsula and then once they got back to their home countries there was a very limited person-to-person transmission.”

The virus has recently been given a new name, the Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus, or MERS for short. It is a cousin of SARS, another coronavirus, which emerged in Asia a decade ago and went on to kill around 800 people. Health experts say SARS, which was spread by respiratory droplets through coughing or sneezing, appears to have passed from person to person more easily than the new virus.

But speaking in Geneva on Monday the director-general of the WHO said MERS is a "threat to the entire world". Hartl said of major concern right now is how little is known about the virus.

“We need to figure out how and where humans get infected in order to be able to control it," he said. "And we also need to work to develop medical means of treating the disease in terms of vaccines or anti-virals, which we do not have at the moment.”

The source of MERS is yet unknown. But the World Health Organizations said it appears to have originated in bats. It said a single variant from bats may have crossed over to another, intermediate animal before subsequently infecting humans.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid