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Health Experts Concerned About Novel Coronavirus As It Continues To Spread In Saudi Arabia, France

“Two more people have died from novel coronavirus, a new strain of the virus similar to the one that caused SARS, in an outbreak in al-Ahsa region of Saudi Arabia, the deputy health minister for public health said on Sunday,” Reuters reports. “Ziad Memish said that in the latest cluster of infections, 15 cases had been confirmed, and nine of those patients had died,” the news service notes (McDowall, 5/12). In addition, “France has confirmed a second case of [the virus], authorities said Sunday, as they increased efforts to inform the public about how to avoid the illness and watch for its signs,” the Associated Press writes (Krivokapic, 5/12). “The second patient diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, known as NCoV, was in the same room as a man with the infection at Valenciennes hospital from April 27 to 29,” according to CNN (Almasy, 5/12). “Three people who came into contact with France’s [first] confirmed case of coronavirus have tested negative for the SARS-like disease, … Health Minister Marisol Touraine said on Saturday,” Reuters adds in a separate article (Frost, 5/11).

“Health experts are concerned about clusters of the new coronavirus strain, NCoV, which was first spotted in the Gulf and has spread to France, Britain and Germany,” Reuters reports in a third article (Frost, 5/12). “A two-man [WHO] mission traveled to Saudi Arabia this week to study the … situation there, said the health organization Friday,” according to Xinhua (5/10). WHO “officials said on Sunday it seemed likely [NCoV] could be passed between humans, but only after prolonged contact,” Reuters writes in another article (McDowell, 5/13). “‘This pattern of person-to-person transmission has remained limited to some small clusters and so far, there is no evidence to suggest the virus has the capacity to sustain generalized transmission in communities,’ [a WHO] statement adds,” BBC News notes (5/12). “At this point, several urgent actions are needed,” the statement says, adding, “The most important ones are the need for countries, both inside and outside of the region, to increase their levels of awareness among all people but especially among staff working in their health systems and to increase their levels of surveillance about this new infection” (5/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.