WHO: Unexplained cases of pneumonia could be MERS-CoV

All countries need healthcare workers to be aware of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, World Health Organization officials in Switzerland say.

The SARS-like virus recently named the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV, is a new, emerging virus that is distantly related to the virus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome, the WHO officials said.

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Saudi Arabia assigns more labs to coronavirus probe

Saudi Arabia has dedicated more labs to investigating novel coronavirus (nCoV) cases in the country, while the condition of an nCoV patient in France has worsened, according to news media reports today.

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health said it has assigned nine more labs to work on the nCoV investigation, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. It didn’t give the total number of labs involved in the effort or give any other details.

Saudi Arabia is has had 30 of the 40 nCoV cases that have been reported so far. The number includes 21 cases with 9 deaths in a hospital-centered cluster that emerged this month in the country’s Eastern province. Two of the 21 cases are in healthcare workers who had contact with nCoV patients, Saudi officials revealed yesterday. No new cases were reported today.

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Close Contact Seen in Spread of Saudi Virus

The latest and largest-yet outbreak of a lethal new SARS-like virus centered on Saudi Arabia seems to be spreading chiefly by close person-to-person contact, the World Health Organization and Saudi doctors said on Thursday, as a doctor and nurse who had treated patients sickened by the disease became the latest confirmed cases in the eastern part of the kingdom.

Since the first known appearance of the novel coronavirus, in the Middle East in April 2012, 40 cases have been confirmed world-wide.

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New Respiratory Viruses Could Spark Global Outbreaks

Two respiratory viruses in different parts of the world have captured the attention of global health officials — a novel coronavirus in the Middle East and a new bird flu spreading in China.

Last week, the coronavirus related to SARS spread to France, where one patient who probably caught the disease in Dubai infected his hospital roommate. Officials are now trying to track down everyone who went on a tour group holiday to Dubai with the first patient as well as all contacts of the second patient. Since it was first spotted last year, the new coronavirus has infected 34 people, killing 18 of them. Nearly all had some connection to the Middle East.

The World Health Organization, however, says there is no reason to think the virus is restricted to the Middle East and has advised health officials worldwide to closely monitor any unusual respiratory cases.

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