A patient from Saudi Arabia died from a novel coronavirus (NCoV) infection, becoming the world's 13th case and seventh death, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.
According to Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health, the patient, whose sex, age, and clinical picture were not specified, was hospitalized on Jan 29 and died on Feb 10, the WHO said in a brief statement. NCoV was confirmed in a laboratory on Feb 18, but the agency did not specify the confirmatory test used.
"Further investigation into this case is ongoing," the WHO added.
"Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States (MS) to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns," the agency said in the statement.
"Testing for the NCoV should be considered in patients with unexplained pneumonias, or in patients with unexplained, severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment, particularly in persons traveling from or resident in areas of the world known to be affected."
The WHO said that any SARI clusters or any SARI in healthcare workers should be thoroughly investigated, adding, "WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied."
NCoV is related to coronaviruses found in bats in a number of countries, but its source has not yet been identified. It is also related to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus, which spread internationally in 2002 and 2003 and killed about 900 people.
The 13 NCoV cases that have been confirmed since last year include 6 in Saudi Arabia (4 fatal), 2 in Jordan (both fatal), 2 in Qatari patients (one of whom is still being treated in a UK hospital), and a recent cluster of 3 patients in the United Kingdom that involved 1 death.