The World Health Organization announced on Monday that it had identified a new coronavirus, confirming several deaths previously confirmed in a case from Saudi Arabia. The virus, previously known as MERS-CoV, is different from SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and has been found in humans in the Middle East, where it appears to have started. According to the London-based UK Centre for Infection and Respiratory Disease, this has only been seen in people who are visiting health facilities.

Experts believe the deadly virus may be airborne, though it can be treated and is not transmitted from person to person. Last year, many countries issued advisories and masks to those with close contact with the infected, and shuttered restaurants and hotels frequented by those at higher risk, including health workers. Now that WHO has confirmed the coronavirus, countries and health authorities will be watching closely to see if this could be transmitted through medical facilities.

MERS-CoV, originally found in the Arabian Peninsula, initially appeared in 2013 in three countries. A number of cases have continued to appear in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar, including the latest death last week. Even though some experts say this coronavirus may be more serious than previously thought, most who have been diagnosed with the virus are healthy.

A developing virus, MERS-CoV, confirmed to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula, is similar to previous coronaviruses discovered in 2004. Of that group, only Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) mutated to go global. After it was first reported in 2002, SARS infected nearly 8,000 people and killed 828 of them, making it the deadliest of all known coronaviruses.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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