Health officials announced Monday that a new virus from the same family as SARS, which sparked a global alert last September, has been found in an additional patient in Britain – raising the total number of confirmed cases to 10 worldwide. Five of the patients with the new virus, known as coronavirus, have died.
The latest British patient confirmed to have the infection had recently traveled to the Middle East and Pakistan, and is currently receiving intensive care treatment at a hospital in northern England.
The new coronavirus has symptoms similar to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which emerged in 2002 in China, and killed nearly a tenth of the 8,000 victims it infected worldwide. Symptoms include severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.
The new virus was identified in September 2012 by the World Health Organization (WHO), which issued an international alert that said a virus previously unknown in humans had infected a Qatari man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia.
According to Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA), five of the 10 confirmed cases to date have been in Saudi Arabia, where three died; two were in Jordan, where both died; two were in Britain, where both are receiving treatment; and one was in Germany, where the patient from Qatar has since been discharged from medical treatment.
In a statement on Monday, the agency said it was providing advice to ensure that the latest British patient was treated appropriately and that the healthcare staff were protected as well.
Coronaviruses normally spread like other airborne respiratory infections, such as the flu, traveling via droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
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