World Bulletin / News Desk
A new and potentially fatal virus from the same family as SARS which was discovered in a patient in London last week appears not to spread easily form person to person, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.
In an update on the virus, which has so far killed a Saudi man and made a patient from Qatar critically ill, the United Nations health agency said it was working with international partners to understand the public health risk better.
"From the information available thus far, it appears that the novel coronavirus cannot be easily transmitted from person-to-person," it said in a statement.
The WHO 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 the same virus had died.
The Qatari was described as critically ill on Tuesday and is being treated in a London hospital. No new confirmed cases of infection with the virus have since been reported, the WHO said.
The new virus shares some of the symptoms of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, another coronavirus, which emerged in China in 2002 and killed around a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide.
Both patients who have so far been confirmed with the virus suffered kidney failure.
"Given the severity of the two laboratory confirmed cases, WHO is continuing to monitor the situation in order to provide the appropriate response, expertise and support to its member states," the WHO statement said.
Scientists at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors disease in the European Union, said initial virology results and the separation in time of the only two confirmed cases suggest the infection may have developed from animals. Such diseases are known as zoonoses.
"(It) is quite probably is of zoonotic origin and different in behaviour from SARS," the scientists wrote in a "rapid communication" study in the online journal Eurosurveillance.
The WHO's clinical guidance to its 194 member states says health workers should be alert to anyone with acute respiratory syndrome and requiring hospitalisation who had been in the Middle East where the virus was found or in contact with a suspected or confirmed case within the previous 10 days.
The U.N. agency has not recommended any travel restrictions in connection with the new virus, but said it was working closely with Saudi authorities on health measures for Muslims making the haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Health experts said rapid progress has already been made in figuring out the nature and genetic makeup of the new coronavirus, and in the development of sensitive and specific diagnostic tests.
The WHO said it is working with laboratories in various countries to make these tests available as quickly as possible.
MERS has no vaccine or anti-viral treatment, but international and Saudi health authorities say the disease, which originated in camels, does not transmit easily between people and may simply die out
Blamed on the uncontrolled and overuse of farm chemicals, the level of contamination has raised a number of health concerns, with certain villages already showing higher rates of cancer than the national average.
The deputy minister called on South Sudanese farmers in states that have not been hit by famine to cultivate their farmlands to avoid exacerbating the crisis in the country.
Researchers determined that while the Guinean form of the Ebola virus (EBOV) showed a 97 percent similarity to the Zaire strain, the disease was not introduced from Central Africa.
Pakistan's army will join campaign to eradicate polio.
Instead of testing one drug at a time, a novel lung cancer study announced will allow British researchers to test up to 14 drugs from AstraZeneca and Pfizer at the same time within one trial
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office said that medical officers at the centre had confirmed three cases of the potentially fatal tropical disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) last month ordered a halt to its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean, prompting Japan to cancel its 2014-2015 Antarctic hunt, the programme's mainstay, as it pledged to abide by the ruling
Researchers said they have identified a protein on the egg cell's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of a sperm cell, allowing the two cells to join
The Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus was found in the person's blood who died on Sunday in Istanbul.
Authorities said a cancer-inducing chemical had been found in tap water supplied by the firm at 20 times above national safety levels, state media said
Ebola is a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure.
The central government has identified the heavily industrialised Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region as one of the main fronts in its war against pollution
The findings of the study and the likely changes to the food chain will be of concern to millions in the tropics who depend on coral reefs for food security and livelihoods.
More compact city designs that cut commutes, insulation to save energy, better public transport, cycle lanes and pedestrian areas can all cut emissions, mainly from fossil fuels.
Along with Saudi Arabia, cases of MERS have so far been reported in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Jordan and Oman.