Austria's health authorities have reported the first cases of the SARS-like coronavirus in Europe, which are linked to a Norwegian man who was hospitalized in Germany last November.

The national health authorities said Friday that the Swedish man and the Austrian woman both tested positive for the virus, which is also known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. It can cause severe illness and even death.

The patient's Norway-based sister was being tested for the virus but is not symptomatic.

The man was infected with the virus during his stay in Germany, while the Swedish woman was infected while traveling in Qatar.

Both are being treated in hospital and appear to be recovering.

The German man who contracted the virus has died.

The health authorities of the state of Lower Austria are investigating the woman to determine whether she contracted the virus from the man.

The virus has emerged from the Middle East, with reports coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan. There have been at least 28 reports of the virus in 16 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Scientists don't know how it is spread from person to person, but speculation is it may be spread through close contact. It is estimated that about 90 per cent of the humans who contract the virus suffer no symptoms.