Hospitals in Tokyo have been placed on alert as a recent coronavirus death has prompted officials to step up their screening of patients and medical staffers in case they have been exposed to the virus, which is normally fatal, according to The New York Times.

Health officials believe that the recent deaths were of patients infected with SARS-like SARS-CoV. Recent samples have also shown that the virus was shared by one of the first patients with SARS, but further identification of the origins of the illness is still underway.

SARS-CoV was first discovered in 2007 after first being identified in Saudi Arabia, where it has been traced to two men who worked with the same cucumber, which had been imported from China. The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus has since been found in a growing number of countries and is now the biggest threat to humans at this time.

SARS spread through Middle Eastern travelers, and medical experts say there is a higher possibility of a resurgence of the illness here because a virus with the ability to spread easily is more prevalent in Japan, which has more than 100,000 former and current workers working abroad. According to The Times, SARS-CoV can be transmitted by common contact, including coughing, sneezing and contact with broken skin, making the threat of an outbreak “very real” in Tokyo.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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