Skooter reporting 09/27/12
An unknown virus related to the deadly SARS infection and the common cold struck down a Qatari man who is seriously ill in hospital in Britain, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
A global alert was issued by the U.N. health agency on Sunday saying a new virus had infected the 49-year-old Qatari man who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where another man with an almost identical virus had already died.
There was no immediate cause for concern, Britain's Health Protection Agency (HPA) and respiratory disease experts said, though authorities were keeping a close watch for any signs of the virus spreading.
The virus, known as a coronavirus, comes from the same family as SARS which appeared in 2002 and killed 800 people.
What they fear now is if there is a link between the virus and Saudi Arabia will cause particular worry in the build-up to next month’s Muslim haj pilgrimage, when millions of people arrive in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia from across the world, then return to their homes.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said it is now a global issue. It is understood that the Qatari patient is still alive but in critical condition.
The HPA is recommending that the Qatari patient be treated in isolation by doctors and nurses wearing protective equipment such as gowns, gloves respirators, goggles and other protection.
It did not recommend any specific actions for travelers or other members of the public.