This is the new strain of the deadly SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus. It’s known as a coronavirus, which is a mutated form of any virus, ranging from the common cold to SARS. This strain is transferred through the exchange of bodily fluids.
A man from the UK, who had recently traveled to the Middle East, where this strain originated, has been confirmed as suffering from the new SARS strain virus. He is being treated for the illness in a hospital in Manchester. The man first reported to be ill on January 26 and was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus on January 31.
Of the 10 who have contracted the disease so far, three in Saudi Arabia and two in Jordan have died. This first patient who was identified with the new strain in Saudi Arabia in September 2012 died from the illness. One man in Germany, who was originally from Qatar, is currently being treated for the virus, as are two others in Saudi Arabia, and now two in the UK. Doctor’s in the UK have said that it’s highly unlikely that the coronavirus will spread to the general population in Britain.
Back in 2002 a pandemic-like outbreak of SARS killed 800 people, killing about 10 percent of those who were infected. Symptoms of the virus include difficulty breathing, high fever, and coughing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there is no proof that this strain spreads easily from person to person.
Prof. John Watson, the head of the Respiratory Diseases Department at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), told the BBC:
The HPA is providing advice to healthcare workers to ensure the patient under investigation is being treated appropriately and that healthcare staff who are looking after the patient are protected. Contacts of the case are also being followed up to check on their health.
Our assessment is that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travellers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low. No travel restrictions are in place but people who develop severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within 10 days of returning from these countries should seek medical advice and mention which countries they have visited.
Since the first case of novel coronavirus was diagnosed in the UK in September 2012, the HPA has maintained increased vigilance for illness caused by this virus, working closely with national and international authorities including the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). We have also produced updated guidance for health professionals in the UK on the investigation and management of possible cases.
Though Prof. Watson did add that any person suffering from shortness of breath within 10 days of traveling in and around the Arabian Peninsula should go to a doctor.
Back in November, the HPA published a report on the evolution of this virus allowing scientists to study possible cures.