Wednesday 29 January 2020

New Sars-like virus 'a threat to entire world'

Ella Pickover

The new Sars-like respiratory illness, which has killed half of the people who have been infected with it, is a "threat to the entire world", the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Experts raised concerns that the disease was "emerging faster than our understanding".

The WHO says that since September last year, there have been 44 laboratory confirmed cases across eight countries, which have resulted in 22 deaths, but reports suggest that the figure could be higher.

Earlier this week, WHO's director general said the virus, which has been called Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, was her "greatest concern".

Addressing the World Health Assembly in Geneva on Monday, Dr Margaret Chan said: "My greatest concern is the novel coronavirus. We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat.

"Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world."

Most of the patients who became infected had travelled to the Middle East but earlier this month health officials confirmed that the virus can transmit from person to person.

Irish Independent

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