May 3, 2013
Novel Coronavirus Kills Five In Saudi Arabia, WHO Reports
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Saudi Arabia´s Ministry of Health has confirmed to the World health Organization (WHO) on Thursday (May 2) that seven new lab cases of infection to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) have been discovered, including five deaths. The remaining two patients are currently in critical condition, according to the Ministry.
NCoV is a SARS-like virus that was first reported back in September 2012. Since then the WHO has been informed of a total of 24 global confirmed cases of human infection, including 16 deaths (a 66 percent mortality rate).
According to Saudi news agency SPA, the seven infections were discovered in al-Ahsa governorate in the Eastern Province. The infections come following the death of another Saudi man in March from the nCoV.
NCoV is from the same family of viruses as those that cause the common cold and also the ones that caused the deadly SARS outbreak that first emerged in 2003 in Asia. The new virus is not the same as SARS, but is very similar to it. Since first cropping up in the Middle East last year, cases have been confirmed in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Britain.
A preliminary investigation has shown that none of the seven infected persons had recently traveled or had contact with animals and the confirmed cases are not from the same family.
According to a BBC report, the exact source of the new virus and how it spreads is still unknown, but one resounding theory is that it comes from animals, perhaps bats. It is believed the overall threat to the general population is relatively small, and the virus has shown no signs of spreading in people.
While most of the cases have occurred and remained in the Middle East, a UK man died from the disease in February, after three members of his family became infected. It is believed a family member had picked up the virus while traveling to the Middle East.
The WHO is encouraging all Member States (MS) to continue surveillance for infections related to the SARS-like virus and to carefully review any unusual patterns. The organization is currently working with international health experts to “assess the situation and review recommendations for surveillance and monitoring.”
“All MS are reminded to promptly assess and notify WHO of any new case of infection with nCoV, along with information about potential exposures that may have resulted in infection and a description of the clinical course,” according to a statement on the WHO website.
Currently, the WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be implemented. However, it continues to closely monitor the situation in case further guidance is needed.