Sun, Nov 25, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Virus reported in Middle East, DOH issues warning

By Jason Pan  /  Staff writer with CNA

Four new cases of acute respiratory infection by the “novel” coronavirus have been reported in the Middle East, as Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of the Department of Health issued a warning to the public over the virus yesterday.

The new cases were reported to the WHO, which released the information on Friday. Three cases were reported in Saudi Arabia, where one patient has already died, while the fourth new case was in Qatar.

According to the WHO, the new virus shares some of the symptoms of SARS, which also belongs to the coronavirus family. When SARS emerged in China in 2002, it killed about one-tenth of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide.

Scientists have not yet determined how contagious the new type of virus is, or how it spreads.

CDC Officials said that the Saudi Arabia cases occurred in families living in close quarters, indicating that this new coronavirus likely infects humans via person-to-person transmission.

The CDC said measures are being implemented to enhance virus detection at Taiwan’s port-of-entry checkpoints, while urging those who plan to travel to Saudi Arabia or Qatar to take extra precautions regarding personal hygiene and to wash their hands frequently.

The CDC also urged citizens heading to these countries to avoid crowded places and stay away from enclosed spaces without adequate air circulation.

If travelers who have recently returned from Saudi Arabia or Qatar experience signs of illness or respiratory disease, the CDC said they should immediately seek medical treatment.

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