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Published On: Tue, May 14th, 2013

Saudi Arabia reports four more novel coronavirus cases, total confirmed cases 38 globally

The Saudi Arabia Health Ministry has notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of four additional laboratory-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (NCoV) today.

According to the WHO update, the cases are described as follows:

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

The first patient was a 69-year-old woman with multiple coexisting medical conditions who became ill on 25 April 2013 and has died. The second patient is a 48-year-old man with multiple coexisting medical conditions who became ill on 24 April 2013, and is in critical condition. The third patient is an 81-year-old man with multiple coexisting medical conditions, who became ill on 26 April 2013, and is in critical condition. The fourth patient is a 56-year-old man with multiple coexisting medical conditions, who became ill on 7 May 2013. He has recovered and has been discharged from hospital.

Since the beginning of May to date, a total of 19 patients, including nine deaths have been reported from the outbreak primarily linked to a health care facility in the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia. The government is conducting ongoing investigation into the outbreak.

From September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a global total of 38 laboratory confirmed cases of human infection with nCoV, including 20 deaths.

What do the experts say about the transmission of the virus and the risk of spread?

The London-based Science Media Centre asked several experts their thoughts of the new coronavirus.

Dr Peter Horby, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, the Wellcome Trust and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) in Hanoi, Vietnam, said, “This is not the first time that person to person transmission of the novel corona virus has been described. It definitely occurred in the UK, but to an individual with pre-existing poor health and therefore vulnerability, and probably occurred in other clusters in the Middle East.

“However, the fact that we have now observed several clusters in different settings in different countries demonstrates more clearly that the virus possesses the ability for limited person to person transmission under certain conditions, such as the health care setting and prolonged close contact.

“Information is limited but the large cluster in Saudi is the more concerning since it might represent more than one link in the chain of transmission (from person to person to person) and/or transmission from an infected person to previously healthy people. More details are urgently needed, particularly on the specific conditions under which transmission has occurred.

“These events highlight the need for a high level of vigilance for possible cases and adherence to strict infection control and prevention practices, particularly in settings where there are other vulnerable patients.”

Another expert offer his thoughts.

Prof Peter Openshaw, Director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection, Imperial College London, said, “We are right to be concerned about the reporting of transmission from person to person, but there is absolutely no reason to panic.

“Human to human transmission has now been documented but this is not a great surprise and the virus seems relatively hard to transmit. The ‘super-spreading’ events, in which one person infects several dozen people at a time (as was seen with SARS coronavirus), do not seem to be happening with this coronavirus.

“There is much we still don’t know about this virus, including the nature and location of its reservoir and how often it caused mild or unapparent disease in healthy people. We need to know a lot more in order to limit spread in the future.”

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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