A new virus from the same family as SARS that sparked a global alert in September last year has been found in another patient in Britain, health officials said on Monday.
The latest case of infection with the new virus known as a coronavirus brings the total number confirmed globally to 10, of whom five have died.
The WHO said the latest infection was “a sporadic case” and did not alter the WHO’s risk assessment. However, it added that the new case “does indicate that the virus is persistent.”
The British patient, who recently had traveled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, is receiving intensive care treatment in hospital in Manchester, England.
The new virus, which the WHO refers to as novel coronavirus or NCoV, shares some of the symptoms of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome — a coronavirus which emerged in China in 2002 and killed about a 10th of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide.
Symptoms include severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.
The WHO said the new patient, who is a UK resident, developed symptoms on Jan. 26. A series of laboratory tests of respiratory specimens showed the patient had contracted both an H1N1 swine flu infection and a confirmed NCoV infection.
NCoV was identified when the WHO issued an international alert in September last year saying a virus previously unknown in humans had infected a Qatari man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia.
Britain’s Health Protection Agency said among the 10 laboratory confirmed cases to date, five had been in Saudi Arabia, two were in Jordan, two were in Britain and one was in Germany in a patient from Qatar who had since been discharged from medical care.