Sars-like virus guidelines issued

Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 01:00

The World Health Organization today urged health workers around the world to report any patient with acute respiratory infection who may have travelled to Saudi Arabia or Qatar and been exposed to a new Sars-like virus confirmed in two people so far.

The United Nations agency put out a global alert on Sunday saying a new virus had infected a 49-year-old Qatari who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia - where another man with an almost identical virus had died.

The Qatari remained critically ill in hospital in Britain, according to the WHO's latest information as yesterday.

The WHO said today no new case of acute respiratory syndrome with renal failure due to the new virus had been reported but its investigations continued.

"We've got things in place should things change, should the behaviour of the virus change," spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

The WHO said it was working closely with Saudi authorities regarding health measures for the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca next month when millions of Muslims travel to the kingdom and then return to their home countries.

Its clinical guidance to 194 member states said health care workers should be alert to anyone with acute respiratory syndrome that may include fever 38 degrees and cough, requiring hospitalisation, who had been in the area where the virus was found or in contact with a suspect or confirmed case within the previous 10 days.

The virus, known as a coronavirus also related to the common cold, comes from the same family as Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) which emerged in China in 2002.

Sars infected 8,000 people worldwide and killed 800 of them before being brought under control.

The WHO said it was identifying a network of laboratories that could provide expertise on coronaviruses to countries.

"Though it is a very different virus from Sars, given the severity of the two confirmed cases so far, WHO is engaged in further characterising the novel coronavirus," it said, referring to genetic sequencing.

Mr Hartl, speaking to reporters yesterday, said: "This is not Sars, it will not become Sars, it is not Sars-like."

It was not established whether the virus spread by human to human contact or just how it was transmitted, he said.

"We don't know if all cases of infections are as severe as the two cases we have currently or in fact whether there have been two million cases of this virus and only two severe cases."

Reuters

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.