Saudi Arabia Sars-like virus 'kills five'

Coronavirus The World Health Organisation says it is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus

Related Stories

Five people in Saudi Arabia have died from a Sars-like virus and two more are seriously ill, officials say.

The seven cases were all from al-Ahsa governorate in the east of the country, the Saudi news agency SPA said citing health officials.

The novel coronavirus (NCoV) causes pneumonia and sometimes kidney failure.

It is from the same family of viruses as the one that caused an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) that emerged in Asia in 2003.

WHO notification

In the statement released by SPA, the Saudi health ministry said it was taking "all precautionary measures for persons who have been in contact with the infected people... and has taken samples from them to examine if they are infected".

However, the ministry gave no details on how many people had been tested for the disease.

In a statement, the World Health Organization said the cases were not from the same family and preliminary inquiries showed "no indication of recent travel or animal contact" in any of the confirmed cases.

Novel coronavirus

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that include the common cold and Sars
  • NCoV causes respiratory infections in humans and animals
  • May be a mutation of existing virus or an infection in animals that has made the jump to humans
  • NCoV does appear to be closely related to a virus in bats

In March, WHO said it had been informed of 17 confirmed cases of NCoV worldwide, including 11 deaths.

Cases have been detected in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany and the UK.

Correspondents say the exact source of the new virus and how it spreads are still unknown. One theory is that it comes from animals.

The threat to the general population is thought to be small, although the virus has shown signs of spreading in people.

According to WHO, the last known death from NCoV was a 73-year-old man from the United Arab Emirates in March.

In February, a patient died in a hospital in Birmingham, England, after three members of the same family became infected.

It is thought a family member had picked up the virus while travelling to the Middle East and Pakistan.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Middle East stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.