A new strain of coronavirus claims another life...this time in France. A 65-year-old man who had been traveling in Dubai has died from the illness, the French health ministry said. He was the first Frenchman to fall ill from the SARS-like coronavirus. The World Health Organization says the virus, which causes coughing, fever and pneumonia, can likely be passed between humans, but only after prolonged, close contact. Out of 44 confirmed cases worldwide, 23 people have now died with most of those infected having traveled in the Middle East. A virus from the same family triggered the SARS outbreak in Asia that killed 775 people in 2003.
The director-general of the United Nations' World Health Organization said today that the virus is "a threat to the entire world."
"The so-called novel coronavirus "is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself," Margaret Chan said Monday in her closing remarks at the 66th World Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
The world needs to pull together its resources to properly tackle the virus which, Chan said, is her "greatest concern" at present.
"We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat," she said, and more information is needed "quickly" and "urgently."
"We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond," she said.
Novel coronavirus is part of a family called coronaviruses, which cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as well as a variety of animal diseases. However, the new virus is not SARS."
The WHO appear to have given the novel coronavirus a name: Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV.
The male patient who died in a French hospital on Tuesday with the coronavirus died of organ failure. He was the first of two people to be diagnosed with novel coronavirus, and died at University Hospital of Lille, where he had been treated since May 9th. The second patient, also male, was in stable but very serious condition, the hospital said. One of the patients shared a room with the other and contracted the virus.