WHO identifies new SARS-like virus
London: A rare and deadly virus belonging to the same family as SARS virus has been identified in a 49-year-old man, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Sunday.
In a statement issued through its global alert and response system, the WHO confirmed the presence of a new coronavirus in a Qatari patient.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which include common cold and SARS.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which appeared in China in 2002, killed nearly 800 people before being controlled.
The patient, who was first presented to doctors on September 03, 2012 with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, was transferred to Britain by air ambulance from Qatar on September 11.
The Health Protection Agency of the UK which conducted laboratory testing confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus, the WHO said.
Peter Openshaw, the 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. However, 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 United Nations health body, which is currently in the process of obtaining further information to determine the public health implications, has so far not recommended any travel restrictions.