Three new cases of a mysterious SARS-like coronavirus have been reported in Saudi Arabia after the deaths of five others earlier this week. That brings the total number of cases reported recently in the same area of the country to 10.
It is reported that one of the new cases is a family member of a previous case, leading to speculation that the virus can be transferred person-to-person.
CBS reported yesterday on the individuals who had already died, stating that the other two cases at the time were in critical condition.
Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said that these new reports indicate there is a new respiratory virus that they call the coronavirus. Officials are said to have informed the World Health Organization (WHO).
“WHO is currently working with international experts and countries where cases have been reported to assess the situation and review recommendations for surveillance and monitoring,” WHO said in a statement released yesterday.
Since September 2012, there have been 24 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 16 resulting in death.
Saudi Arabia is not the only country where cases have been reported. Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and three cases in the UK are among those reported, although the first case was believed to have traveled to Saudi Arabia before showing symptoms.
WHO advises countries to test any individual with unexplained pneumonia, suspecting that the disease is more widespread than just in the Middle East.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that has been associated with SARS, which killed 800 people during a global epidemic in 2003. But coronaviruses are also associated with the common cold. WHO says it will continue to monitor the situation.
“WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied,” the organization said in a statement.