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Another death to SARS-like virus in Saudi Arabia: DOH

2013/03/07 17:29:57

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) One more patient in Saudi Arabia has succumbed to novel coronavirus, bringing the global death toll of the SARS-like virus to eight, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

Citing a notice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the DOH said the the latest victim was a 69-year-old man who was hospitalized Feb. 10 and died nine days later.

The Saudi man had not traveled abroad before falling ill, the WHO said in its notice, citing information provided by the Saudi health authorities.

The case pushed the global number of confirmed infections of the new virus to 14, some of which might have been transmitted through close person-to-person contact, according to the WHO, the Geneva-based world health regulatory body.

DOH officials said the new coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that cause a variety of ailments including the common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). A global SARS outbreak in 2003 killed about 800 people worldwide, including dozens in Taiwan.

The newly detected virus is not exactly same as the SARS virus, but can cause similar symptoms such as severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties, the officials said.

The virus was first identified in September 2012 when the WHO issued an international alert saying that the virus -- previously unknown in humans -- had infected a Qatari man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia.

The DOH called on Taiwanese nationals with plans to visit the Middle East to take precautions, maintain their personal hygiene and avoid close contact with individuals with respiratory illness.

It also urged travelers arriving in Taiwan from the Middle East with similar symptoms to report to airport officials and receive an examination or be quarantined if necessary.

(By Lung Rui-yun and Sofia Wu)