VIENNA (AP) — Austria on Friday confirmed its first two cases of the mysterious coronavirus, a deadly respiratory disease presumed to have been brought into Europe from the Middle East by people infected there.
The Health Ministry said in a statement that the people who have contracted the coronavirus were seriously ill and identified as well known citizens of Denmark, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the three countries with confirmed cases of the virus.
The ministry refused to name the victims of the new coronavirus or say where they live. It said the virus poses no health risk for other patients and people not infected with the virus are unlikely to be affected.
Unlike the swine flu outbreak in North America, there has been no evidence of ongoing transmissions of the coronavirus from person to person. Health officials say the coronavirus is not airborne and most cases have been reported among patients who were extremely ill or received sick treatment.
In France, a nurse's aide died Thursday and a patient was said to be in critical condition. Hospital officials in Toulouse said another patient at the facility, which has six of the 10 cases in Europe, was in good condition.
Authorities have said the two cases in Austria are related, but the health ministry declined to comment further on its causes of death.
Doctors in Denmark say one patient has died.
At least 77 people have died worldwide since the virus was first identified in June 2012 in the Middle East, mostly in Saudi Arabia. Health officials believe the coronavirus likely came from bats and are studying how the virus differs from that of swine flu, which is transmitted mostly through the air.
Danish authorities said the virus appears to be less virulent than the swine flu virus, which prompted the world's largest-ever health alert in 2009.
Cases of the virus have popped up in Britain, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Malaysia.