May 13, 2013
New French Coronavirus Case Suggests Human-To-Human Infection Possible
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
As French health officials confirmed a second case of the new SARS-like novel coronavirus (nCoV) in that country on Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that they believe it is likely that the illness can travel from person to person following prolonged exposure.
According to Reuters reports, officials with the French Healthy Ministry said the new infection was found in a 50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room with the nation´s first victim.
The first nCoV case was confirmed on May 8 and involved a 65-year-old man who became ill following a trip to Dubai, the news agency said. Both patients have been hospitalized in Lille, located in the northern part of France, and the second victim has been transferred to intensive care as a result of respiratory issues.
At a news conference, French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that the first victim is “in a stable but worrisome situation,” Milos Krivokapic of the Associated Press (AP) reported. Touraine added that pamphlets detailing precautionary measures and potential signs of infection will be made to travelers at airports. Four additional suspected cases in France turned out to be “false alarms,” Krivokapic added.
In light of the developments in France, WHO officials have announced that it seemed likely that nCoV — which has infected 33 people and has been responsible for at least 18 deaths in Europe and the Middle East — could be passed from one person to another after a period of long contact.
Speaking to the media in Saudi Arabia, WHO Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda told Reuters and other reporters that there was no evidence that the coronavirus would be able to sustain “generalized transmission in communities,” which could lead to the potential threat of a global pandemic.
At the same time, BBC News reports that Fukuda 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“¦ This pattern of person-to-person transmission has remained limited to some small clusters and so far, there is no evidence to suggest the virus has the capacity to sustain generalized transmission in communities.”
According to the WHO, this new strain of novel coronavirus comes from the same family of pathogens responsible for the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Asia, the BBC said. However, they also noted that the two viruses are distinct from each other.
“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,” Reuters added. “Memish added that three suspected cases in Saudi Arabia were still under investigation, including previous negative results that were being re-examined.”