A SARS-like virus first found in humans last year poses a threat to the whole world, according to the World Health Organization’s general director, Margaret Chan.
So far, the coronavirus has killed 27 people and resulted in 49 confirmed infections. The latest deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia. While several cases have happened on the Arabian Peninsula, people have also died of the infection, dubbed MERS-CoV, elsewhere.
Chan stated in her closing remarks at the 66th World Assembly in Geneva on Wednesday, “[It] is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself.” She added that the virus is “a threat to the entire world.”
Most recently, a patient in France died after having contracted the virus on a trip to the Middle East. Coronaviruses are dangerous and deadly. They cause illnesses that range from the common cold to SARS (Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome). They are also responsible for several animal diseases.
But the latest coronavirus isn’t SARS, however closely related it is. The new virus has been named the Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV. It acts much like a cold virus in that it attacks the respiratory system. But, as the Centers for Disease Control explained, its symptoms are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.
The WHO added earlier this month that “all of the European cases have had a direct or indirect connection to the Middle East.” However, the virus’s origins have yet to be discovered.
Because the virus has a small number of victims and it may be in its early stages, health officials do not know much about how it spreads. This makes it harder for scientists to figure out how to prevent infections.
The WHO has called for the world to pull together resources to battle the new SARS-like virus. There is currently no vaccine to protect against a coronavirus infection.
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