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Health experts are monitoring a SARS-like virus that has killed one individual and hospitalized another in the Middle East.The World Health organisation (WHO) said on Monday that the 49-year-old Qatari man was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha on September 7, suffering from “acute respiratory infection and kidney failure” after travelling to Saudi Arabia. He was transferred to Britain by air ambulance on September 11.
The British Health Protection Agency also released a statement on Sunday addressing the infections.
The WHO said virus samples from the patient in the UK are almost identical to those of a 60-year-old Saudi Arabian man who was infected — and died — earlier this year, according to the AP.
Like SARS, the virus in question is of the coronavirus family, but “this new virus, however, is different from any that have previously been identified in humans,” according to the HPA.
“It’s still very early days,” said Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman, told Time . “At the moment we have two sporadic cases and there are still a lot of holes to be filled in.”
The AP also reports: “Health officials don’t know yet whether the virus could spread as rapidly as SARS did or if it might kill as many people.”
The 2003 SARS epidemic killed approximately 800 people, mostly in Asia.
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