A SARS-like respiratory illness has claimed the life of a second person from Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced. The coronavirus sparked worldwide attention in September when an initial alert was sounded, but now a total of six cases have been reported, two of which have been fatal.
Saudi Arabia has stepped up surveillance of acute respiratory illnesses after a 49-year-old Qatari who had recently travelled to the kingdom, where another infected man had died, fell ill with the same disease.
The WHO is working with representatives from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in order to learn more about the coronavirus that is similar to the SARS respiratory disease that killed 800 people in 2002.
“Further epidemiological and scientific studies are needed to better understand the virus,” WHO said in a press release, Arabian Business reports.
A relative of the Saudi national who died recently recovered from the disease, but this is the only case so far where people who have been infected are linked.
Although the WHO says that it is very unlikely that the illness is passed between humans, not enough is known about the disease and the organization urges caution.
“Until more information is available, it is prudent to consider that the virus is likely more widely distributed than just the two countries which have identified cases,” WHO said.
Image of an Arab boy wearing a white mask, Shutterstock