World Bulletin / News Desk
A new virus belonging to the same family as the SARS virus that killed 800 people in 2002 has been identified in Britain in a man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday.
The United Nations health body, which issued a statement through its "global alert and response" system, said tests on the patient, a 49-year-old Qatari man, confirmed the presence of a new, or novel, coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes the common cold and SARS.
"Given that this is a novel coronavirus, WHO is currently in the process of obtaining further information to determine the public health implications," the statement said.
SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, appeared in China in 2002 and killed some 800 people globally before being brought under control.
Peter Openshaw, director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, said at this stage the novel virus looked unlikely to prove a concern, and may well only have been identified due to sophisticated testing techniques.
"For now, I would be watchful but not immediately concerned," he told Reuters.
The WHO said the Qatari patient had first presented to doctors on September 3, 2012 with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection.
On September 7, he was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar, and on September 11, he was transferred to Britain by air ambulance from Qatar.
"The Health Protection Agency of the UK conducted laboratory testing and has confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus," the WHO said.
It said scientists at the HPA compared gene sequences of the virus from the Qatari patient with samples of virus sequenced by Dutch scientists from lung tissue of a fatal case earlier this year in a 60-year-old Saudi national.
The two were almost identical, it said.
Openshaw said the fact the two cases found so far are apparently unrelated suggests "that what has been picked up is just some rare event that in past times might have been undiagnosed".
But he added: "Any evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission or of contact would be more worrying, raising the worry that another SARS-like agent could be emerging."
The WHO said it was not recommending any travel restrictions but would be seeking further information on the virus.
When dealing with ADHD, learning disorders and autism, how many of us focus on the connection between our gut flora, what we eat, and our mental state?
In an interview Hollywood actor Jean Claude Van Damme has stated that he favoured Arabic food and that the diet followed by the Prophet Muhammad was one that was best for the human body
El Nino has devastated Mozambique's Gorongosa park with political tensions threatening the park
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on skin for a few minutes to create suction, the therapy itself dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Earth has hit a record high with an overall globel temperature the highest ever on record
The National Institute of Health may fund research into mixed embryos to better understand human diseases and develop therapies to treat them.
Travel across multiple time zones disrupts circadian rhythms resulting in jet lag
After five years the radiation levels in the Pacific Ocean are close to normal levels after a nuclear meltdown in the city
A trilateral pledge will see a jump from the current collective clean power levels of about 37% to 50% by 2025
Around 6.5 million deaths globally are attributed each year to poor air quality inside and outside, making it the world's fourth-largest threat to human health, behind high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking
New World Drug Report research identifies heroin as deadliest drug
Zika has caused alarm throughout the Americas since cases of the birth defect microcephaly were reported in Brazil, the country hardest hit by the outbreak
Philadelphia has become the first big city in the US to place a tax on soda to tackle the obesity crisis
Average global temperatures startlingly higher than normal between March-May
Government study provides strongest evidence of cell phone health effects