NCoV: New SARS-Like Virus Stumps Public Health Officials


The World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting that at least 18 people in the Middle East and Europe have been killed by the new novel coronavirus or NCoV. It has also been called the "new SARS" (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The deadly virus has resulted in new cases in France and most recently in Saudi Arabia. In 2003, SARS was responsible for killing more than 775 people after first appearing in Asia. Health authorities are concerned because this new virus appears to be formed from the same pathogens that caused the 2003 outbreak. 

The virus has infected 34 individuals since September, most of them in Saudi Arabia. In order to contract the virus an individual would have to be confined to a small space with an infected person for a prolonged period of time. Right now, the WHO Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda is calling for increased awareness within infected communities. For now, he does not believe that the virus would be able to spread via generalized transmission.

The Saudi Deputy Health Minister for Public Health Ziad Memish cited 15 confirmed cases of the new outbreak in the al-Ahsa district. The disease is passed from human-to-human after prolonged contact (like sharing a room together). A particular concern about the spread of this disease was noted by The Atlantic which said that reports of just how many people are sick with NCoV have been slowly reported. That could have disastrous effects of public health officials.

For right now, the WHO is focusing on the Ahsa district where around one million people work. Those infected appear to have been treated at the private al-Moosa General Hospital while in the intensive care unit. The WHO will monitor the district closely in order to better identify how the deadly virus is transmitted.